I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream

I've given up chocolate, cake/puddings and biscuits for Lent. This hasn't been going too badly on a day to day basis (well, it's not exactly a joy but I suppose that's the point). The real difficulty (apart from wanting to snatch Dairy Milk out of the hands of small children) is when people come over to eat.

The problem with being a baking enthusiast is that people expect a pudding or a sweet treat when they come to see you. Caught out by your rich and decadent deserts in the past, they come to your house having been 'good all day' and ready to indulge. The thought of serving people fruit salad, however exotic or lovingly prepared, makes me feel a little tense. It brings back bad memories of the black days when school dinners ended with a yoghurt or a piece of fruit rather than something + custard. I felt disappointed and despondent for the rest of the day. I know this may well just be me, but what kind of hostess would want to take the risk of upsetting her guests in a similar fashion?

Anyway, last Saturday K and Y came round for dinner. After a spicy lentil soup and a succulent lamb tagine (more of which to come) I decided to make a very healthy baked banana for pudding. Of course, in light of the above, I had to pair it with a scoop of creamy brown bread ice-cream. I did have a few wrangles with myself about whether this would go against the spirit of the "no cakes, no biscuits, no chocolate" ruling but I managed to convince myself that ice-cream is clearly none of these things and, besides, I was serving it with fruit which would give me copious brownie (mmmmmm brownie) points. Jesus would be proud.

Brown bread ice-cream dates back to the Victorian times and is basically a beautifully creamy vanilla custard with chunks of caramelised brown bread stirred through. I first tried it when I was at university. I don't know if I had many intellectual awakenings in my first year, but this ice-cream certainly gave my taste buds a buzz. Our college used to make the most beautiful homemade ice-creams. Legend has it that they were all stored in a big cellar and, anytime they so desired, the dons could go and help themselves. I'm not sure if this is true, but had I been privy to the location of the brown bread variety I would have been there nightly, spoon and wafer in hand.

This recipe is from Nordijus' beautiful blog and it is a real winner. I decided to make a toffee sauce which I had visions of snaking through the ice-cream. In the end, it just blended into the vanilla base which, although not what I was expecting, gave a delicious toffee background for the caramelised crumbs. I saved the extra sauce to spoon over the finished article (and a little to spoon straight into my mouth).

This was my first attempt at homemade ice-cream and I am, without a doubt, a convert. I do love my premium ice-cream (B&Js especially) but home churned ice-cream is in a completely different iced-desert league. I used the Bedmate's simple ice-cream maker but if you don't have one, Nordijus also gives instructions for making the ice-cream without.

The toffee sauce recipe is a brilliant go-to sauce for any pudding (especially a toffee sponge) and the ice-cream would be an excellent accompaniment to most things. I can imagine it inside a brandy snap basket or a toffee meringue nest or alternatively just licked off your fingers standing next to the freezer (don't judge, as I said, I decided it didn't break Lent!).

Nordijus' Brown Bread Ice-cream with my Toffee Sauce
Serves 4-6

4 egg yolks (I used large eggs)
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1/2 vanilla pod
250ml milk (I used whole milk)
40g butter
80g crustless wholemeal bread (I doubled the quantity of the breadcrumbs for extra crunch. If you want to do the same you should also double the quantity of butter and brown sugar)
50g soft light brown sugar
250ml double cream
Toffee Sauce
115g butter
115g light muscovado sugar
140ml double cream
  1. Pop the bread in the food processor to make fine crumbs. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter. Add the crumbs, stir well and then spread the mixture on a baking sheet.

  2. Bake the crumbs in a pre-heated oven at 180 centigrade for 15-20 minutes, turning from time to time until they are toasted and crisp. Be careful to keep an eye on them at this stage as they burn quite easily. Allow to cool and try to resist eating them all.

  3. Cut the vanilla pod open and scrape out the seeds with a knife or your fingernail.Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and seeds and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until thick and pale. Gradually pour on the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time. Do not allow the custard to catch on the base of the pan. When the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon it is ready. Strain out the pod (the pod can be washed and dried and used to scent sugar).
  5. While the custard cools you can make your toffee sauce. Put the butter, sugar and cream into a saucepan and heat gently until the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour (dangerously easy).

  6. When you are ready to churn the ice-cream add your crumbs to the custard (you may need to break any big clumps with your fingers) and add as much or as little toffee sauce as you want.

  7. Churn the mixture in your machine (or make by hand) until it is thick (about 10-15 minutes). Store it in the freezer but allow it to soften before serving.


Deborah Dowd said...

This ice cream sounds so great- I love the whole connection with brown bread, and with the toffee sauce...I can hardly wait to get a little further along in my diet so I can make this indulgence!

Joy said...

Thanks Deborah, I must admit that my healthy eating drive suffered at the hands of this ice-cream. Athough I do think it's so much better to know exacly what's in your treats rather than all the crazy stuff that goes into shop made. Best of luck with your goals and come back soon.

Antonia said...

I've never tried brown bread ice-cream but have been meaning to make it for a while - this looks great!
I'm the same in that I just can't bring myself to offer just fruit for dessert when I have guests as I know everyone is expecting something more decadent. Is so hard to stick to eating healthily when baking is a huge passion!

Tartelette said...

Wow....I might have to sacrifice my hips for it but this is too good to pass up! Wonderfully executed!!

Joy said...

Antonia - I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks like that!

Tartlette - Slim hips or creamy ice-cream, unfortunately the ice-cream wins every time with me. At least it's all natural though...

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I am all for home-made ice cream--its so much better than anything you can buy! I really like the flavor you chose--I never would have thought of brown bread and toffee, but it sounds delicious!

Joy said...

Thanks Mike. It really is a devilishly good combination!

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