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Christmas Cake ice-cream

Piece of cakeIf you’ve ever wondered what to do with leftover Christmas cake (or pudding), here is your answer.  This ice-cream is unbelievable.  It’s like everything you wish for at Christmas on a spoon – smooth and creamy with a fruit and nut texture, a hint of spice and that boost of dark rum.

The recipe came about from last year’s Christmas cake baking, which ended up in the oven too long and although it didn’t burn, it was dry and a bit underwhelming.  Rather than compost it, I decided to cut it into slabs and freeze it to use over time.  Well almost 12 months have passed and it’s still there, so I wondered how it would go to mix cake with ice-cream to serve for dessert on the day.

I followed David Liebowitz’s classic vanilla ice-cream to the letter (unusual for me), and I’m glad I did. Note, however that the recipe in the link above only uses five eggs and David’s recipe in The Perfect Scoop uses six.  Personally I’d stick with six – or even seven – egg yolks for a thicker, richer custard, so I’ve copied the recipe below, using the six egg yolks.

I let the custard sit overnight before adding to my faithful, prefreeze-the-bowl ice-cream churner.  One day I will invest in a good quality ice-cream churner with a compressor motor.  But until then, this does the job.

Let’s cook custard

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 6 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 30 minutes to 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, whisk together the egg yolks. Make sure your milk is still warm, 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. (Minimun six hours, but preferably overnight.)

Now to make the ice-cream

Churned

Remove the vanilla bean* and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the custard is churning, break the cake into a food processor and whizz to make cake crumbs.

Crumbs

I have a Kenwood tri-blade, which is one of the best and most used appliances in my kitchen  They come out of that as lovely, moist crumbs.

Put it all together

Throw a spoonful or two into the churning ice-cream, then set the rest aside until the ice-cream is ready.

Before spooning into your ice-cream freezer tub, fold the cake crumbs through. Spoon into the ice-cream tub and into the freezer. Taste, then try to resist another taste, and another …

I must say that both my husband and I have agreed that this is up there with the best – if not THE best ice-cream of all time.  As we discovered, it is amazing with stewed rhubarb, but plums would be fantastic too. I’ll let you decide that one.

This ice-cream is best eaten in a few days, or it will lose its creamy texture.

Have a safe, loving and very merry Christmas

*Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.

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