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