The summer is just around the corner (June is still officially spring!) and it has been blazing hot here, up to 30C, the garden and local farmers are really suffering but on the positive side it is definitely time to get ice-cream making.
I was planning to share a strawberry ice-cream recipe but my fabulous strawberries have completed their first flush and the second is a week or so away. Once I have the idea in my head it won’t go away so what to do….. Well you can do worse that make a really good old fashioned Vanilla ice-cream, simple but lovely and useful in so many ways.
Vanilla ice-cream is ubiquitous but unfortunately often not of very high quality. Cheaper brands will often use Vanillen flavouring, artificial, chemical tasting and not a patch on the real thing and more expensive brands tend to be too sweet and cloy in my humble opinion. In addition nearly all commercially available ice-cream contain a lot more ingredients than cream, sugar, egg and flavour, some of the ingredients are positively worrying. The best choice by far is to make your own, frugal, fairly simple and very very tasty.
It does help if you have an ice-cream maker, but not essential I made ice-cream for years before I bought an ice-cream maker. This is how I make my vanilla ice-cream;
- 300 ml milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 100 gms sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 250 ml crème fraiche or double cream
The method is a little involved but not difficult.
To begin add the milk and the vanilla pod split length ways to a pan with half (50 gms) of the sugar, heat up to boiling point and leave too steep for about an hour. It’s worth noting that vanilla pods can be expensive particularly if you buy them from a supermarket. I buy mine off ebay as they are much cheaper; just make sure you check the sellers feedback to ensure they are selling a decent quality product.
When the milk has finished steeping put the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl and whisk until the mixture thickens and leaves a ribbon like trail when the whisk is removed.
Reheat the milk mixture up to boiling point, remove the vanilla pod and set aside. Add the milk to the egg and sugar mixture stirring constantly. Scrape the thousands of tiny vanilla seeds out of the vanilla pod using the tip of a knife or teaspoon and add the seeds to the milk-egg mixture.
This next step is the tricky bit; place the bowl over a pan of simmering water which will gently heat the mixture to form a custard. The egg yolks will coagulate at between 85C to 88C if the temperature is higher you will end up with scrambled eggs! So gently does it, take your time and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon it is done. This stage can be tedious, similes of a watched pot never boiling come to mind, I find the best way to deal with this slow process is too put a favourite record on or get your kids to help.
Once the custard is made set to one side until completely cool then chill in the fridge.
Once the mixture is chilled stir in the cream until it is completely combined. Living in France I use crème fraiche as the French equivalent of double cream is frankly rubbish, if you have access to good quality double or heavy cream use that instead.
If you have an ice-cream maker add the unfrozen mixture to your ice-cream maker following your usual instructions.
If you don’t have an ice-cream maker don’t worry you all you need to do is; if you are using double or heavy cream lightly whip the cream so it’s light and floppy and fold it into the cold custard until it is completely combined. Freeze in your freezer for 3-4 hours, stirring once an hour until almost frozen, then let it freeze solid, don’t cut corners on the stirring as the stirring stops large ice crystals from forming so keeping the finished product smooth and creamy.
That’s it, it does seem like a lot of fuss and bother but the finished product is a revelation if you have only had shop bought ice-cream before, the only downside is that if you have children they will be pestering you to make some more.