The Daring Bakers August 2010 Challenge - Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I chose to make the Baked Alaska. I made vanilla bean ice cream, brown butter pound cake and a lovely meringue topping. As this was my first challenge I didn't deviate from the recipe, but it was delicious and challenging with many firsts for me! I've never browned butter before, but it was incredible and I will be doing so many time in the future I'm sure. The flavour is amazing! I've also never made ice cream before, particularly because I don't own an ice cream maker. But making mine without the ice cream maker turned out to be just fine - still delightfully creamy.

The first step is to make the ice cream. I used David Lebovitz's recipe from "The Perfect Scoop". Simple, but time consuming, because regular stirring is necessary for a creamy ice cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart (1l)

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.
6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, follow instructions for freezing here.

Next up - brown the butter and make the brown butter pound cake. I know this cake sounds boring - just plain pound cake made with browned butter? Those were my initial thoughts, however, this cake is DIVINE!!! You must try it out. The nutty rich flavour of the browned butter makes the whole cake. It is moist and decadent and will go well with just about any flavours.

Brown Butter Pound Cake
  • 19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
  • 2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cut your cake into the desired shapes for your baked alaska. I cut mine into simple rectangles, but you can do any shape. Or you can leave the cake whole or cut it into one big shape and make a family sized baked alaska! There are so many options. In hindsight, I would have cut my cake in half as the amount of cake in each baked alaska was a bit much, but they still tasted delicious.

Next step is to make the meringue. This was the easiest part of the entire challenge!
  • 8 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1 cup (220g) sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Now to assemble the baked alaska! I simply scooped out ice cream and formed it into a mound on top of each cake piece. But you can freeze the ice cream in any type of form (ie use tea cups) to top your shape of cake. Freeze for a while until this is solid enough to work with. Remember, you don't want it melting too much when you start putting the meringue on.
Pipe the meringue onto the ice cream and cake shapes (I just smoothed it on with a spatula). Either way looks beautiful! Freeze for one hour or up to one day.
Remove from the freezer and let soften on the counter for about 10 minutes so it's not rock hard when you serve it. Then burn the tips of the meringue with a blow torch (alternatively, just broil in the oven until golden brown). Serve to your impressed guests and be sure to enjoy one yourself!

This was definitely challenging for me, but such a great learning experience. And so rewarding to taste the end result! Happy Baking my Friends!


  1. Welcome to the Daring Kitchen! Awesome job on your first challenge - your Baked Alaska looks absolutely perfect.

  2. Thanks Shelley! Thats really sweet of you. :)

  3. Well done on your first challenge! Your baked Alaska looks delicious!

  4. Thanks so much Renata! Your photos are absolutely lovely too. Hopefully with some practice my challenges will one day look as nice as yours do. :D

  5. Browned butter is delicious! Your cake looks awesome!

  6. Thanks Merut! It really is delicious! Tonight I'm making brown butter green beans with toasted almonds! Definitely loving the brown butter right now. :)

  7. Welcome to Daring Bakers! Great work on your first challenge! May it be the first success of many! Thanks for your wonderful comments on my blog!

  8. Thank you for stopping by Marcellina! I'm looking forward to coming challenges with the Daring Bakers.

  9. welcome :) Beautiful job on your first challenge!