Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baked Alaska

I've been fascinated by Baked Alaska since I read my mum's make-your-own-yoghurt book (look it was the early 80s, alright?) as a child. Inside, the centrepiece was an extravagant yoghurt Baked Alaska, sliced open to show green, pink and brown layers (look it was the early 80s, alright?).

The first one I had, at some posh hotel in the States, was overly alcoholic and put me off for a long time. I had an orange one at Petrus for Andy and I's anniversary, which I found wonderful but sickly.

Then someone - and I'm really sorry I can't remember who; I thought it was Little Loaf, but I can't find it - did simple bought cake and bought ice cream one, where all you have to do is make the meringue.

That's genius. Effort: five minutes with an electric whisk. Spectacle and taste: off the scale.

I'd had in mind for a while to do Kavey Eats' Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream themes. I have made ice cream, which you can do without an ice cream maker, and it's surprisingly easy. In terms of churning it, you pull it out of the freezer and whack those trusty electric beaters into it about once an hour. The ice cream is still very hard, but extremely tasty and you can be inventive.

What I wanted to do for Kavey's Baked Alaska theme was something which would cut through the sweetness of the meringues, which led me to one of my favourite fruit flavours, raspberry.

The cake includes a layer of raspberries

I made a raspberry and almond cake from BBC Good Food, which my choir (for whom I do most of my baking) adore, so I thought I'd just layer those two flavours.

Despite a shocked tweet from a follower, Baked Alaska is so easy. I think the pre-baked cake fools you into thinking it's been baked at the same time as the ice cream.

Raspberry puree before being made into sorbet

I made the raspberry sorbet on Saturday, using Kirsty Wark's (!) recipe from BBC Food. It never properly set. I don't know if that was too much sugar, or my freezer, or what. Still, we only churned it twice and it came out with a good texture, rather than the flavoured ice the freezer sometimes produces.

I baked the cake on Sunday, which is a really easy blend-it-all-in-the-food-processor one that's useful to have in your arsenal.

I would not consider doing this without electric beaters!

Then - guess what? I made the meringue. Again, I cannibalised this from a more complicated recipe. Honestly, this takes five minutes with electric beaters.

Blurry - in a rush!

We had to work fast to put the Alaska together. I knew the sorbet wouldn't stay frozen for too long, so I spooned a few balls of it on the top of the cake and then quickly covered it with the meringue.

Spooning the meringue onto the base

As it's insulation, it's important to get the meringue to cover all of the ice cream and cake, and I wonder if we missed a bit as we were working so fast.

I put it in for less than the ten minutes advised. I'm not particularly bothered about my meringue being golden, in fact I prefer it if it's not, and the raspberry had begun to leak by that point.

Slightly sinister leakage

It also eased out of a couple of holes in the top, as if the meringue had been bitten by a vampire, and that makes me think the insulation was the problem.

Never going to be a food photographer!

How did it taste? Great. I definitely like the raspberry and meringue combination. The cake was a bit hard, and I think I'd prefer something spongier and perhaps lob some amaretto on it.

I've seen recipes with jam in between ice cream and cake, and I wonder if that's so the sorbet doesn't sink into the cake. We had it a week later (frozen, don't worry) and the sorbet had disappeared and the cake tasted mysteriously more like raspberry...

This post is part of the #BSFIC challenge