Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.

 
                        

8.27.2010

Daring Bakers - Baked not-so-Alaska!

Baked Alaska

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”.

So, I decided to make the Baked Alaska and to make it on the 26th, yes, yesterday! No, not overconfidence.. ok, perhaps, just a tad bit. And, I was paid back well for it with a blistered finger, a messy kitchen and overall annoyance.

That photo up there looks pretty decent doesn't it?! Ah! but if only, you look closely, you'll catch a bit of the unmitigated disaster, this challenge proved to be! And, the cause of it, and I must make a point of it here, was NOT my 11th hour (over) confidence. But, merely the lack of required equipment - the Blow Torch.

Eggs

The secret to the Baked Alaska is the gorgeous browned meringue overcoat, which, I cannot emphasise enough, is best achieved using a handheld blow torch. Needless to say, I do not possess one but that was not to stop me. I had read somewhere that egg whites being poor conductors of heat, that golden effect could be achieved in an oven too. That warmed my heart. I could complete the challenge after all!

Sagacious Deeba warned me that it may not work but youthful hotheadedness and a true yearning to Bake (pun definitely intended) the Alaska made me plunge head first. The journey started late (very) Wednesday night as I churned my ice cream into the wee hours of 2 am (much to the annoyance of my neighbors, I am sure.. My mixer is LOUD!).

The ice cream recipe is my own and the only deviation form the DB recipe for this dessert. In the morning, the ice cream was perfect; simply decadent and totally worth the effort and midnite coffee run. But, after that things unravelled.

Baked Alaska 2

I have never eaten or attempted making a pound cake because of just that; a pound of everything does not make my wardrobe fitting! If not for this challenge, I wouldn't have made it and after this, I will not be making it again. Way too rich for me. I much prefer the lighter sponges.

Then, it was time to make the meringue and assemble the Alaska. Ah! But many pitfalls ahead. The meringue just wouldn't whip to the right consistency. I don't know if it was because I used very fresh eggs (they were only a few days separated from the chicken in the farm). I managed to get it on somehow and once in oven, it looked fine for about 30 seconds. After that, something told me, it wasn't going right and it didn't. The ice cream was MELTING!!!!!

In my haste to get it out before further damage, I burnt my finger.. sigh. I stuck the Alaska in the freezer for a few minutes. But, alas, the damage was done. I decided to salvage as much as I could for the photo and cry later....

Brown Butter Pound Cake and Ice Cream

So, that's the story. Nevertheless, my ice cream is bowl licking good!! :)) Oh! And, I am getting an ice cream maker soonly! YIPPEE!! More on that later ;-)



Recipe for the Baked Alaska recipe is here

Vanilla Ice Cream

2-1/4 cups half and half or light cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup + 2 T sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds of 2 vanilla pods

By hand, cream the yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Meanwhile, heat the half and half until just barely simmering. Remove the pan from heat. Slowly, and while continuously whisking the mixture, incorporate the hot milk into the yolk mixture.

To prepare the custard, pour the mixture back in to the pan and over medium heat, gently heat the mixture, stirring often. The mixture will start to thicken. Continue heating until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 8 - 10 minutes) and if you run your finger along the back of the spoon, the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak.

Remove from heat immediately. Do not over heat as the eggs will curdle (done that before!). Whisk the mixture for a minute to stop the custard from cooking further. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any lumps or scrambles. Cool the mixture to room temperature.

Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast two hours until completely chilled. At this point, you can process the mixture in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

If you don't have an ice cream machine, once the custard mixture is cold, move it to the freezer. After about 45 minutes, check on the mixture. If it has started freezing on the edges, remove and whip up the mixture with a hand-held mixer to break the ice crystals and incorporate some air to create the fluffiness.

Return to the freezer and repeat the whisking every hour, three more times. By this time, volume of the ice cream would have doubled. If it hasn't, then you are not whisking enough each time. After the final repetition, gently fold in the reserved peach chunks and freeze the mixture for atleast 6 hours or overnight.

37 comments:

  1. Sorry about your poor little finger. At least your ice cream was good. Mine was icy, my meringue too salty and my cake dry. :-( Yours looks lovely with the pretty flowers in the background.

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  2. Your photos look beautiful! Hopefully the ice cream eased the pain of your burnt finger.

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  3. I agree about the ice cream, it was definitely the best part of this challenge. Very tasty, indeed. I tried the petit fours, knowing that my oven is not reliable enough to attempt the baked Alaska. Wouldn't it be wonderful to own a kitchen blowtorch??

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  4. Yes, the ice cream is one of the best things about this challenge. I loved the cake, but not the frozen version... Your Baked Alaska looks delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. It still looks lovely! Hope your finger is alright.

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  6. I think as long as it tasted good then it is ok. Indeed i agree a blow torch is the best. As yousaid it could be the fresh whites which didn't whip up good.

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  7. Some challenges are set-ups for disasters for some of us. :)
    I think you still saved the day. And if it tasted good, that's all that matters at the end of the day.

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  8. your baked alaska looks damn good and if not for you telling us, we'd never know... welldone! trust the finger is better!

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  9. Too funny, Asha! I also waited until the last seconds to make mine and although it was super delicious I had a horrid time trying to take pics. It all kept melting and slithering all over. Yours is actually really cute! And at least serving cake and ice cream worked! And delicious!

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  10. I couldn't live without my blowtorch Asha- you need to go and get one! :)

    Despite your many obstacles, in the end your Bombe Alaska still managed to look like it came from a 5 star restaurant!

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  11. Looks delicious Asha! Lovely presentation.

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  12. Aw, I am so sorry about the unforseen challenges that went along with this one (especially burning your finger! ouch!), but the finished Baked Alaska does, in fact, look lovely, and I hope it tasted delicious, as well! Great job on the challenge.

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  13. Not sure why someone tormented you with this 1970's concoction from hell but I'm glad to hear you made it out relatively unscathed and with a pretty damn good looking cake to boot. The fact that you did this without a blow torch is amazing.

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  14. So sorry to hear about your meringue and poor burnt finger. :-( And I agree with you on the pound cake; it seemed way too rich for me, which is why I didn't even make it. Your photo of the ice cream on the pound cake looks lovely, though!

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  15. I'm like you, I avoid pound cake like the plague! Well, eating a slice is permissible, but making it is daunting, when you consider that pound of butter.

    What a beautiful baked Alaska! I would have never know you made it sans blowtorch. Hope your finger heals soon!

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  16. I love a good blow torch. I would have stuck my finger right into the bowl of ice cream. Props for experiments.

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  17. And now I know what you were doing with those gorgeous eggs! This is just beautiful! Another wonderful post

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  18. very well done I must say you are a telented photographer.

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  19. You got close. It looks great.

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  20. Gosh, I hope your finger's alright now! Are you planning to get a blowtorch soon? And lol, I know what you mean by possibly waking the neighbours up with late night baking :D

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  21. Sounds like you went through a lot, but you ended up with a beautiful dessert in the end. Can't wait to see more ice cream once you get the maker!
    :)

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  22. The minute I read that you were going to put it in the oven, I just knew it melted on you. I am so so glad I didn't attempt this challenge--it seemed so rich & everyone had melting problems. Kudos for trying!

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  23. Lets face it, being a Daring Baker is a total adventure! Sorry for your burnt finger. I'm sure that it was delicious! By the way, that is a CUTE plate!

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  24. You crack me up Asha, big time. LOL to reading your beautifully written post, and the minimum separation between the chicken & eggs...teehee! Was it my fault? I continue with my old age hot-headed decisions, though may churn out advice when asked, but would have done what you did too! LOVE your pictures... they are truly charming!

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  25. Oh poor yoy!I had a tough time with my blow-torch too...frantic calls to hubs saved my day ;-)...but his constant remarks abt my torch usage are annoying me :-(

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  26. Sorry your Alaska didn't work out the way you imagined. But the most important thing is that it tasted good, and I'm sure did.

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  27. This was a particularly tough challenge, which relied too much on having the appropriate equipment. I like how you created your own version, which I am sure is very good!

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  28. First time here Asha, Beautiful blog and gorgeous pictures lady, In love...Last week i went thro' the pain of burnt finger, sigh sigh! its pain...hope you are better :)

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  29. I am so happy you atleast attempted to make it, I couldn't make it this time. I am sure it tasted great.

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  30. I'm visiting your blog for the first time : It's so beautiful :)

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  31. The browning color looks perfect to me.. I won't have imagined your ice-cream-melting-in-oven incident if you didn't tell.

    Your photos are again beautiful and pleasing to the eyes, as usual..

    Well, happy shopping for blow torch :-)

    Sawadee from Bangkok,
    Kris

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  32. It still looks pretty amazing to me! I did the petit fours and they just kept melting I could barely take two pictures :( I hope there is no more ice cream coming from DB

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  33. I totally understand your frustration! This was a tough challenge! That being said, what you ended up with still looks fabulous and very yummy. :)

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  34. Such a great outcome from a less then fun experience!

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  35. Youch ... blistered finger ... yet another scar to wear like a medal - the sign of a great cook! No consolation?? Oh well, the baked alaska DOES look pretty darn amazing!

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  36. I also could not live without my kitchen torch, and in fact, couldn't find it when it came time to torch my meringue. I was batty, but fortunately it turned up in the nick of time.

    That said, one would never know you had any problem with your gorgeous Baked Alaska - it look lovely!

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