Welcome to my blog, where one may find all sorts of random, hopefully amusing tidbits about food & other things.

May 23, 2012

vanilla baked alaska with browned butter cake.

My brother's been asking for baked alaska for ... ever. Probably a year. Every time I would come home from college, he would ask where it was. One late afternoon, after a long day of indulging in old video games, I decided to just make it.

There are three components to the entremet - a base of cake (traditionally sponge, but more commonly pound cake), the ice cream, and meringue. I forewent the traditional domed shape. I found my individual assembly style cuter, albeit slightly more difficult.

It's one of those, the sum is greater than the parts, things. It's totally worth the effort.

See the browned butter in the batter? Delicious.

Like I said - three components. Fortunately, you can prepare the cake and ice cream in advance.

(1) CAKE. Choose a kind that will complement the flavor of the ice cream. I chose browned butter.

I made it in a single round pan, and although it was a half batch of a recipe, the cake was very thick. So I cut rounds & then cut the tops of the rounds off to make them less fat.

(2) ICE CREAM. Scoop it into the same mold you used to cut the cake. Slip the mold upwards while lightly pressing down on the ice cream with a spoon to keep it down. Do this quickly, and then freeze them suckas.

(3) MERINGUE. So much simpler than I expected. Boil sugar & water. Beat into foamy beaten egg white for 5-10 minutes. The end.

My brother was trying to take pictures in the frenzy
that accompanied assembly.

The air trapped in the beaten egg white serves as an insulating agent, thus protecting the ice cream. Thus, it's important to properly cover the cake & ice cream with meringue. This integral scientific aspect of the egg white also explains why baked alaska is also known as a Norwegian omelette (omelette a la norvegienne), or omelette surprise.

Another name (interesting how all these alternative names are in French) is glace au four, which literally translates to "ice in the oven."

This really isn't too hard! Especially if you spread out the components. And make sure people are ready to eat when you're ready to serve.

**The pictures progress from calm & in good lighting to frazzled & at night, so bad lighting. LOL. Hope they're sufficient.

Baked Alaska, with browned butter cake & vanilla ice cream
it looks like a lot, but if the components are done separately, it's easier than you'd think. cake from here. i made up the meringue.

Cake - This recipe gives a lot of leftover cake (that you can make into a trifle or just haphazardly frost & eat). If you want less leftover cake, halve this recipe. *tips on browning butter, in the instructions here.

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 6 Tb unsalted butter, browned and slightly cooled 
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla 
  • 1 1/4 cups flour 
  • 2 1/8 tspns baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350, or 325 with convection setting. Grease a round 9" cake pan. (If you want thinner cake, halve the recipe.)
  2. Beat sugar & eggs till thickened, about a minute. 
  3. Add milk, melted butter, and vanilla. 
  4. Stir together flour and baking powder. Add to wet mixture, mixing till well combined, but take care to not overmix. 
  5. Bake in prepared pan for 20 - 35 minutes. 
  6. Let cool. Cut into rounds using desired cutter. Wrap rounds in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 15 mins previous to assembly. 
Ice Cream - Place the same cutter onto a rimmed dish or pan. Scoop thawed ice cream into it, and then slip the mold upwards so the ice cream left behind is in the same diameter of the rounds of cake. Do this very quickly. Completely freeze the ice cream. 

When you start the meringue, the ice cream should be completely frozen, and the cake rounds should be chilled. 

Meringue (enough for four individual servings, each about 3-3.5" in diameter)
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 2 Tb water 
  1. Beat egg whites in mixer till foamy. 
  2. Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil. 
  3. With mixer on high, drizzle the hot sugar water into the egg whites. Beat at high speed until the eg whites are stiff & glossy. 
  1. Make sure broiler is ready. (I don't have a torch - if using, be safe.) 
  2. Spray pan lightly with cooking spray. Place cake round on pan. 
  3. Place ice cream atop the cake. 
  4. Very quickly, smooth meringue around the cake and ice cream, making sure to at least cover up to the border of the ice cream and cake, so the ice cream doesn't melt. 
  5. Place under broiler for literally 5-8 seconds. Leave oven door open and watch it! It will toast immediately.
  6. Remove & immediately serve. 

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