Friday, August 27, 2010

August Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska

Another ice cream challenge to go wonderfully with the sweltering heat of August.  I have been wanting to make Baked Alaska for a long time and now the Daring Bakers have given me a great excuse to try it.  These mini Baked Alaskas have a delicious caramely cake bottom, homemade strawberry or vanilla ice cream in the middle, covered by ethereal whipped meringue lightly toasted.  I have to confess though, I used my homemade ice cream left over from last months challenge.  I do not have an ice cream maker and I was lazy.

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”.

Brown Butter Pound Cake-best pound cake ever!
  • 19 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3  cup 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” (23cmx23cm) square pan. (The next time I make this, I might use a jelly roll pan to make the cake circles a bit thinner)

 Place the butter in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells like caramel. (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.

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 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 25-30 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.

Meringue 
  • 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 one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.

Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 and ½ C  whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ C granulated sugar
Grind the sugar in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and sugar and vanilla and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.
Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Strawberry Ice Cream
  • 5C of whipping cream
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened strawberry puree 
Grind the sugar in a food processor unless you really have caster sugar, which I did not. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, sugar, and strawberry puree and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.  Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

 Strawberry Puree
  •   16 ounce bag frozen strawberries
Thaw out the frozen strawberries in a strainer over a bowl.  Save the juice.  Put the berries in the food processor and process.  Take the saved juice and reduce it to 1/2 of a cup.  Pour into the processed berries.  You can lightly sweeten this with 1/2 cup sugar.  I did not sweeten the puree because I was using it in the ice cream

To make this delicious cake, take a bowl and slice the cake roll into slices.  Line the bowl with plastic wrap and then line the bowl with the pieces of the roll.  Place the bowl in the freezer.  Then layer the vanilla ice cream, freeze for about an hour.  Layer the fudge, freeze for about and hour.  Finally layer the strawberry ice cream and allow to freeze.

To Assemble the ice cream:
  • Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften
  • Line tea cup with plastic wrap
  • Scoop softened ice cream into tea cup
  • Wrap well and refreeze

To assemble the Baked Alaska:
  • Cut the cake into circles the same size as the teacups full of ice cream (the 9x9 cake made very thick cake circles, so I cut mine in half to make enough for the people I wanted to serve)
  • Unwrap the ice cream and place on top of the cake rounds (if you have difficulty removing the ice cream from the tea cup, run the cup under hot water)
  • Spread a liberal amount of meringue on the cake and ice cream (or pipe)
  • Freeze for a few minutes or up to 1 day
  • With a kitchen torch, brown the outside of the meringue, alternatively  put the cakes under the broiler for a minute.  Be careful, I have known people who have caught meringue on fire.





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