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Gingerbread Baked Alaska

/ Categories Recipes, #CookWithLeiths / Author:

Gingerbread Baked Alaska

This is an impressive pudding and a great cooking challenge if you want to cook all the elements from scratch. However, it is delicious made using a bought gingerbread loaf and a pimped up good quality vanilla ice cream and will take a fraction of the time to prepare. It is worth making the Italian meringue even though you will need a sugar thermometer, as the meringue will be stable allowing for the dramatic baking needed for the fantastic Alaska finish. An ice cream machine is the quickest way to make the ice cream for this desert, although we have also given the method for making the ice cream by hand – it will take up to 6 hours to freeze in this way.

For our Wildflower Magazine Christmas Biscotti recipe, please click here.

Ingredients

Serves 6-8

For the gingerbread:
225g butter, cubed
225g soft dark brown sugar
70g black treacle
165g golden syrup
300ml full fat milk
350g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp round cinnamon
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, beaten

For the ice cream:
200ml milk
200ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
4 medium yolks
75g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
½ tsp ground ginger - (stirred through the ice cream base before churning)
4/5 balls stem ginger – roughly chopped (stirred through the ice cream base before churning or stirred through a softened ice cream just before assembly)

For the Italian meringue (pre-cooked meringue):
150g egg whites
300g caster sugar
100ml water

Instructions

To make the gingerbread:

  1. Heat the oven to 170˚C/gas mark 3. Prepare a 30 x 20cm roasting tin or cake tin by lining with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. In a saucepan, place the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup. Place over a low heat stirring regularly until just melted. Stir in the milk and set aside to cool.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda into a medium sized bowl. Make a well, add the beaten eggs and stir them, drawing in the flour a little at a time so lumps don’t develop – beat them out before adding more liquid if they do.
  4. As the mixture becomes thicker, start to add in a little of the cooled butter mixture to the liquid mixture at the centre of the bowl and stir in each addition until all the liquid and flour has been incorporated
  5. You will have a loose cake batter. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 50-60 minutes. Do not open the oven door until 45 minutes has passed or the cake may sink.
  6. The cake should be well risen, deep golden in colour, springy to the touch and an inserted skewer should come out clean with no raw batter.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the tin slightly before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the ice cream (this should be churned on the day it is required to avoid it being too firm to shape):

  1. Place the milk and cream into a small saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in half length ways and scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan using a cutlery knife.
  2. Place the pan on a low heat and allow to scald (just starting to steam) and remove from the heat. Add the vanilla pod to the pan to infuse while the milk cools.
  3. Remove the vanilla pod from the pan. Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar, combine well and then gradually add the vanilla infused liquid, mix well.
  4. Rinse out the pan, and pour the vanilla yolk mixture back to the pan.
  5. Have a bowl and sieve to the side of the stove. Place the pan back on a low/medium heat to thicken a little, stirring constantly. When the mixture coats the back of the spoon and is similar in consistency to single cream, quickly strain the custard through the sieve.
  6. Cover the custard with a piece of cling film in contact with its surface and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
  7. Using an ice cream machine, churn the mixture until ready (very soft scoop) then stir through the ground ginger, cinnamon and stem ginger and freeze until required.
  8. Alternatively if you do not have an ice cream machine, freeze the custard in a shallow tray lined with cling film. This will take about 6 hours. When ready to assemble the Alaska, cut the frozen custard block into cubes and pulse in a food processor until smooth (don’t let it melt). Stir through the ground ginger, cinnamon and stem ginger and keep in the freezer until you are ready to assemble – but for no longer than an hour or it may become too firm to shape.

To assemble base the day ahead:

  1. Take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften for 15 minutes before use or until it is pliable.
  2. Prepare a bowl for shaping (we used a ½ litre pyrex glass bowl) Lightly oil and line with a double layer of cling film, pressing it flush to the sides with no air pockets.
  3. Slice the gingerbread into slices 1/2cm thick. Using cutters or drawing round a cup or saucer, cut a disc that fits into the bottom of the bowl. Cut strips about 4-5cm wide and place into the bowl all the way around with the strips slightly overlapping to prevent any leakage.
  4. Using another larger cutter or plate, cut a disc the size of the top of the bowl which will be the base of the baked Alaska.
  5. Briefly place into the freezer to harden the gingerbread slightly which will make assembly easier.
  6. Beat the softened ice cream with a spatula until it is pliable but not starting to melt. Immediately use to fill the gingerbread lined bowl, leaving a small space at the top for the lid. Position the lid on top and gently push down to fit snugly. Place into the freezer until completely solid and leave there until ready to assemble the Alaska for service.

To finish for serving:

  1. Make the meringue. Place the caster sugar and water into a heavy saucepan and the egg whites into a medium bowl. Place the pan over a gentle heat and cook gently until all the sugar crystals have melted. Try not to stir the pan or to allow the syrup to go up the sides.
  2. Once the crystals have melted, turn up the heat, and use a sugar thermometer. When the sugar syrup reaches 110˚C, start to whisk the egg whites until they reach stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 118˚C, with beaters still whisking, pour the syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream. Be careful not to pour the syrup onto the beaters or the side of the bowl. Whisk until stiff peak is reached again, then continue to whisk until the meringue has cooled.
  3. Place the meringue into a piping bag with a medium star nozzle.
  4. Remove the gingerbread and ice cream filled bowl from the freezer. Turn out onto your chosen non-flammable serving plate or board. Pipe the meringue in even rosettes to cover the gingerbread. Blow torch the meringue until it is lightly golden all over.
  5. Alternatively preheat the oven to 220 ˚C assemble as above onto a baking sheet and bake the Alaska for 4-5 minutes approx. or until just starting to colour the meringue.
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes for short-cuts and making ahead:

• The gingerbread can be made in advance and stored in an airtight tin for up to 3 weeks. There will be gingerbread left over from this recipe.

• You can use bought 500g gingerbread cake can be used for this recipe.

• You can use bought 500ml vanilla ice cream, allow to soften out of the freezer and stir in the spices before using for this recipe.

For full wine pairings to our festive feast, visit Wildflower Magazine's website or click here for the full article.


Author: Leiths Teachers Created for Wildflower Magazine

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