Lately, I've really started to like all the Daring Bakers' challenges. The last month's ice cream cake tasted amazing even though I made the ice cream by hand, so I was really excited for the next challenge that was also ice-cream based!
Baked Alaska was always a thing that I wanted to make, but I thought it was way too advanced for me to try it. When I was answering the questions for the Daring Kitchen's On The Spot questionnaire, I even wrote that I would love them to make Baked Alaska a challenge. Ha!
I didn't use the recipe provided for ice cream because of the raw eggs in it, so I just made the one from the previous challenge. I didn't have any difficulties assembling the Baked Alaska, other than the ice-cream melting when I was spreading the meringue over it. I made six small Baked Alaskas and they were still too big to eat them in one sitting. It's definitely a very rich recipe and I'm sure I'll try it again some time, maybe when I get some piping tips. I apologize for the bad photos. There just wasn't enough time and the finished product was hideous, so why even bother?
I know, I should really get some piping tips. I'm working on it!
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''.
Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165 g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) heavy (approx. 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
- Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
- In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour 1/4 cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
- Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon - 5 ml if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons - 15 ml if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
- Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz.
Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (275 g) unsalted butter
2 cups (200 g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising, sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
1/2 cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9''x9'' (23 cm x 23 cm) square pan.
- Place the butter in a 10'' (25 cm) 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 of the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
- Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
- 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.
- Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
- Scrape the batter into the greased and floured square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and tap 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.
- 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
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
1 cup (220 g) 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.
- Line four 4'' (10 cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.
- Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4'' 10 cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.
- Make the meringue (see above).
- Unwrap the ice cream ''cups'' and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.
- Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.
- Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven got 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.
My oven only reaches temperatures around 220°C, so I just preheated it and popped the Baked Alaskas in there. One of them was completely covered in meringue and survived the baking part, while the other two started melting, so I took them all out of the oven and served them. I guess I'll have to use more egg whites next time, since I only used two instead of four for half of the recipe.
Overall, this recipe was a real challenge, but at the end it was worth it. I'll have to experiment with other ice cream flavors though, because this combination was too sweet. I should've used less sugar in the meringue. The pound cake, alone or paired with the ice cream, was delicious and I think I'll make some petit fours with it one day!
Look: 1/5 (a mess - I really need piping tips, I know)
Taste: 3/5 (the combination was too sweet)
Approximate cost of one Baked Alaska: 1.50 €