When I was 38 weeks pregnant with my daughter, my house was more of a building site than a home expecting the arrival of a new baby. We’d bought it only a few months before and were in the final throes of remodelling, which it badly needed. Up came the floral blue carpet, down came the pink and purple wallpaper, out went the pale blue 1980s bathroom fittings, and in went new kitchen cabinets and appliances. But when the new freezer arrived — the kind that goes under the counter — I almost sent it back because my little Magimix ice cream maker didn’t fit in it. It was as much a reflection of how much I love ice cream as it was of how irrational I was at nine months pregnant.
My heart used to sink every time I saw a recipe for ice cream and saw the instruction to “freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions”, but then I came across this tip earlier this year on how to make ice cream without a machine. Seven years after that too-small freezer arrived, the world of homemade ice cream is open to me once more.
Photo courtesy of the publisher
You don’t often hear about ice cream in the international news, but The Icecreamists’ Baby GooGoo ice cream caused a worldwide stir when it went on sale in 2011 in London. Publicity stunts and puns aside, Matt O’Connor’s new book is full of delicious recipes for what he calls boutique ice creams. With an obvious love of word play, with such titles as Glastonberry, Vanilla Monologues and Mint Condition, the recipes range from classic vanilla and chocolate to mascarpone and cherry, rose petal or spiced pumpkin, to more unusual flavours, such as popcorn, Jamaican ginger cake, and chilli, ginger and lemongrass. In addition to ice cream, there are also chapters on sorbettos, ice lollies, cocktails, and milkshakes, sundaes and desserts. And if the recipes alone don’t tempt you enough, then you’re bound to be won over by the lush, seductive photography. Ice cream has never looked so good.
Not surprisingly, the first recipe I tried out was this one for brown bread and Irish stout ice cream. While it might sound like a crazy combination, brown bread ice cream is popular, if not terribly common, in Ireland. Adding the stout gives it a slight edge of bitterness. Other recipes I have bookmarked to try are The Bail-Out (Irish cream liqueur and brandy), Espresso Yourself (coffee), Carameltdown (dulce de leche) and Easyslider (an elderflower sorbetto). Now if only the weather would warm up…
Brown Bread and Irish Stout Ice Cream
adapted from The Icecreamists by Matt O’Connor
Makes about 1 pint
If you can’t find brown bread in the shops, you can always make your own — and you won’t go wrong with Darina Allen’s recipe. Or for a holiday twist, why not try making a batch of Irish stout gingerbread and using that instead of the brown bread?
And if you don’t have an ice cream maker (as I don’t), don’t despair! While Matt O’Connor lists some tips in the book on how to make ice cream without a machine, here’s a round-up of six ways to make it without a machine, or try this fantastic tip from Jeni Britton Bauer, an artisan ice cream maker in the US, for how to make it with a food processor, which is what I do. The allspice and nutmeg reminded me of eggnog, which would make this the perfect ice cream to enjoy in cooler months too.
For the ice cream:
250 ml (1 cup) full-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
125 ml (1/2 cup) double cream
2 egg yolks
88 g (1/2 cup) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
20 g (1/3 cup) Irish brown bread or soda bread, crumbled
50 ml (1/4 cup) Irish stout, such as Guinness (I used Belfast Black Stout from the Whitewater Brewery)
For the caramelised crumbs:
30 g (1/2 cup) Irish soda bread, crumbled
30 g (1/4 cup) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
Pour the milk, spices and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and whisk until slightly fluffy. Gradually and slowly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow to boil.
Add the crumbled soda bread and mix with a stick blender, then pour the mixture back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature. For more rapid chilling, half-fill a sink with cold water and ice and place the bowl in it for 20 minutes. Never put the hot mixture straight into the fridge.
Once cooled, boil the stout until it is reduced by about half and add to the custard. Cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 4°C/40°F). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (or use one of the tips listed above in the note if you don’t have a machine).
Meanwhile, prepare the caramelised crumbs. Combine the crumbled soda bread and sugar and spread over a shallow baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place under a medium-hot grill, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are softly caramelised. Allow to cool a little.
Fold most of the toasted bread mixture into the ice cream, then use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a freezer-proof container with a lid. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours).
Decorate each portion with a few of the remaining caramelised bread crumbs before serving. Enjoy with a chilled pint of Irish stout. This is best eaten on the day it’s made (the longer it’s kept, the icier it will get), but will keep for up to 1 week in the freezer.
* I received a copy of The Icecreamists as a review copy from the publisher, Octopus Books.