The Daring Bakers Make Baked Alaskas

In Cakes, Daring Bakers, Frostings and Icings, Ice cream on August 28, 2010 at 8:31 am
From Adriana Cooking

“If only”. . . The sound of a wish in a pair of words.

It didn’t occur to me how rapidly summer is dwindling to an end until early this morning.  I was on the couch, happily flipping through a cookbook, when my sister pointed it out.

“There are only 12 days of vacation left”, she had said, her voice full of dread.  The filtered morning sunlight that had danced across my limbs, causing the metal on my watch to scintillate in its light, gradually faded away, leaving the room as gloomy as my thoughts. It couldn’t be. Just last week  (or so it seemed), I walked home from school, my heart full with the prospects of summer. I’d left my last middle school report card lying on the dinning room table to go outside and spend some time with my friends, absorbing each and every second of the newly granted freedom I had obtained. Time must be playing with my mind. It’s passing as slowly as honey dripping off a spoon, and rushing by faster than the second hand around the clock. I tried to push the thought of school away, and enjoy the cookbook in my hands. If only we had more time, more vacation.

From Adriana Baking

(Sugar and basil leaves are combined in a food processor to make delicious basil sugar, used in the gelato).

But then again. My sister and I were sitting on the black vinyl chairs at the doctor’s office as the doctor made easy conversation.  We were there for our annual check up.

“When does school start?”, the doctor asked, rather absentmindedly.  She obviously wasn’t aware how much we dreaded that question.  The very phrase “back to school” sent a flood of unpleasant memories into my mind. I was in no hurry to be overloaded with homework, nervous about upcoming exams, or spend hours on a science project. No, I’d much rather be on vacation, baking every day, and having ample time to complete each month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge.

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”.

From Adriana Baking

I went through a lot of recipes to make a baked Alaska my family would enjoy. None of us like raw meringue, so I went in search of a similar topping, but one that was cooked.  An Italian meringue was an option, and the mouth feel was more pleasant, but something was still off.  I tried making a marshmallow frosting next, thinking (and hoping) it would be just like eating the creamy insides of a toasted marshmallow. This could have worked, but I let it sit for a while before using it, and it got a little grainy and too hard to cover the ice cream. About two weeks ago, as I mentioned in my last post,  I received a wonderful cupcake book, complete with a whole section on frostings and sauces. So I tried one last time to find a good substitute for the raw meringue. And I did! Though the meringue frosting I used is no more cooked than an Italian meringue, I much prefer its smooth, airy texture.

The next problem I encountered was with the browned butter pound cake. I made it twice, just to make sure I had not done anything wrong, and both times I didn’t like it. It didn’t have much flavor though I browned the butter properly, and it was a little dry. I’m sure I messed up, because every person in the Daring Bakers group who made it loved it.  I made a lemon poppy seed pound cake instead, to go with the basil ice cream I chose to make. The flavor combination was perfect, and with the heat of summer, very refreshing. I’m sorry, Elissa, that I didn’t incorporate this month’s theme into my challenge!

From Adriana Baking

The last change I made to the original recipes I used was to substitute the egg yolks in the ice cream for cornstarch, making it a lighter, gelato-like frozen dessert. The Perfect Scoop has a recipe for Fleur de Lait ice cream, and one for basil ice cream. I combined both recipes to make the one below.

With the first baked Alaska I made, I baked it in the oven, having no other choice. When I pulled it out, it was a mess. The light, airy meringue had slid off the ice cream, leaving it exposed to the heat. It melted right there on the baking sheet, while my family and I hurried to sample a piece.  And it wouldn’t have been pretty even if the meringue stayed where it should have. The oven didn’t do the job of browning it evenly, or in a short enough amount of time before the ice cream started to melt.  I was in need of a kitchen torch.

My father had the perfect solution. He let me borrow a Bunsen burner from his lab at work, promising me it would work as well as any other kitchen torch. It did. My meringue frosting browned more evenly, and the ice cream stayed frozen. My baked Alaska wasn’t exactly baked, but it looks much better than the one before.  Thank you Elissa, for such a fun challenge!

From Adriana Baking

Basil Gelato:
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 quart

2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150 gr) sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp (25 gr) cornstarch
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (25 grams) packed basil leaves

Grind the basil leaves, sugar, and cream in a food processor until very fine.
Warm the milk with the salt and the basil mixture in a medium saucepan. Whisk together the cornstarch and cold heavy cream until dissolved, and stir it into the milk. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until it begins to boil and bubble up. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, continuing to stir. Remove from heat and scrape it into a bowl. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, stirring the mixture occasionally as it cools. Once well-chilled, whisk to remove any lumps, freeze the ice cream custard in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
From Land O Lakes

3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of buttermilk*
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 salt
4 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 325 C. In a a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the lemon zest. Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the butter mixture, beating until combined. Add the dry ingedrients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the poppy seeds. Pour batter into greased and floured 12 cup Bundt pan or 10″ tube pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan.

*1 tablespoon vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup can be substitued for 1 cup buttermilk.

Meringue Frosting
From Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski
Makes about 4 cups ( I halved the recipe)

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, water, and corn syrup. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and is very warm to the touch (about 160 F on an instant read thermometer), about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the mixture until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Use right away. (I added about a tablespoon – two tablespoons for a full recipe- of poppy seeds for added crunch).

From Adriana Baking

Assembly Instructions – Baked Alaska

1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue frosting (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day. (The cake might become dry and will not taste as good if frozen).

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

  1. Gorgeous! Great job on this challenge!

  2. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what a baked alaska was until I went on my cruise last week and it was one of the dessert options. I, being the good foodie that I am, HAD to sample it. And I was pleasantly surprised! I’m sure your version is WAY better than theirs. I mean, basil ice cream…how much better can life get?

  3. Your Baked Alaska is absolutely beautiful; it instantly caught my eye on the forum, looking like a gorgeous, big, fluffy marshmallow. I love that you toasted it with a Bunsen burner! The basil gelato sound delicious, and I bet it was wonderful with the lemon. I’ll have to try the gelato out myself.

    Great job!

  4. I am blown away by not only your Baked Alaska, but by your writing, your persistence, and your creativity. I only wish that I had had half of your motivation and talent at your age.

  5. That looks awesome & and I love ur flavor variations!
    i made the petit fours, but i can’t post anything because ther’s something wrong with my blog account 😦

  6. Oh my, your photographs are utterly gorgeous! I’m so glad you gave a shout out on my blog because now you led me here! Your writing skills are amazing, and your food looks scrumptious.

    You said you wished you could bake every day, and have school (in the institution sense) never start– you know, you can! I recommend the book: “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” By Grace Llewellyn. It shows you how unschooling (self-guided homeschooling) is the best fir learning and how school, well, isn’t! I highly recommend it, and you can also check out her website at: I already unschool and I’m still getting a lot out of the book.

    Anyway, take care, and I look forward to more posts!

  7. This looks amazing! I was actually just looking at different types of basil ice cream the other day and this seems a heavenly combo! 😉

  8. I’m bummed that the brown butter pound cake wasn’t your thing, but this is SO GORGEOUS!

    Basil is my favorite herb and my favorite ice cream flavor. I love the color of yours and I bet it’s incredible with the lemon cake. AND, you got such a beautiful even toast on the meringue… that first photo especially is a show stopper!

  9. Interesting flavors and gorgeous photographs. Great job!

  10. haha….love the idea of a bunsen burner! We don’t have a proper blowtorch either, so I usually stay away from desserts which do. Your baked alaska turned out really good! It looks really pretty….
    And I like how you layer of meringue is really thin!

    Your vacation seems pretty long to me….haha =) But that’s only because I’m not on vacation so time passes a lot slower for me……

  11. Basil ice cream would have never occurred to me, bit it sounds just as refreshing as you describe. Beautiful pics and, yea, school is just something you have to do. Just look at it as a right of passage into a premiere cooking school…I have no doubt that is where you’ll end up.

  12. your combination of flavors sounds just amazing! basil and lemon with poppy seeds! perfect! super refreshing!

  13. Beautiful job! I love the idea of the basil ice cream and lemon poppy seed pound cake! Yum! What a cool refreshing dessert for summer!

  14. Okay, I feel so much better about screwing up my brown butter pound cake now, because I had the same problem as you, and everyone else was successful. The basil ice cream sounds delicious!

  15. This is the best looking alaksa I’ve seen all day! The color is just awesome 🙂

  16. So we both had our dads come to the rescue! I have to admit that I found the pound cake to be a bit dry as well. Beautiful, beautiful photos on your blog. I have bookmarked it for future reading – thanks for visiting mine so I could find yours!

  17. Basil ice cream sounds delicious. I just finished my first DB challenge ever. Your’s looks gorgeous and much more creative in flavorings.

  18. It looks beautiful. I would love to join the Daring Bakers out there but I’m a little nervous. I feel like I would mess up every recipe. The flavours in the gelato must have been exquisite.

    • Lexi – I suggest you go for it and join the Daring Bakers! Even if every single challenge is a failure, it is worth it for the experience. You get to try new recipes and get creative – and all for the fun of it!

  19. Lovely results! I too wasn’t excited about the raw meringue, glad you found a good substitute.

  20. Very refreshing flavor combo 🙂

  21. Wow, your ice cream flavors are so delicious! Excellent job!

  22. Hi, I heard you made a swiss roll like ice cream desert, when are you posting on that? I want to see the picture!

  23. Sugar and basil… that sounds amazing! A combination that I would never have thought of for a baked Alaska. Great job on this month’s DB challenge, and thanks for the kind comments on my blog.

  24. Am I getting this right? You’re 14 years old? This is amazing! You write brilliantly, cook like a pro and take stunning, interesting photo’s! Congratulations! You obviously have a great life in store for yourself! Grab it with both hands!

  25. […] aware that I’ve written about it before, but school is the only thing on my mind now, day and night.  I’d much rather be able to […]

  26. great post, looking forward to your next, if your on twitter follow me @favoriterecipe , i follow everyone back

  27. hi Adriana wow that’s fancy I miss you sooooooooo much let’s chat sometime……..SOON!

  28. HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Looks delicious. All your photographs and recipes always catch my attention!

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