OLD FAVOURITE Baked Alaska was the dessert of choice at ’70s dinner dances and weddings.
Our friend Anna comes from London but has a holiday home in Fahy. She and her family spend the summer here and they recently invited us around for a delicious dinner. A big hit was Anna’s homemade strawberry ice cream served with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
“It’s simple to make,” she insisted, as we all handed our bowls up for seconds. “Just whizz strawberries, cream and sugar together then freeze.” No ice-cream machine required. Just pour into a container, stick it in the freezer, give it a few stirs as it freezes and off you go.
I have had an interest in ice cream all summer as we dabbled in homemade versions of our brownie and digestive-biscuit ice cream, with varying degrees of success in all honesty. Remember. ‘Practice makes perfect’ was the mantra I grew up hearing from the Gibbon side of our family.
The next day, seven-year-old Penny’s friends Beatrice and Seafra came to play. They sat in the back of the car, engrossed in their own discussion about ice cream.
Seafra: “I was sick yesterday. I think it’s because I ate a hot ice cream.”
Beatrice: “How can ice cream be hot?”
Penny: “Maybe it was in the oven?”
Beatrice: “You can’t put ice cream in an oven!”
Suddenly the Brunette butted in: “Oh, yes you can! In a Baked Alaska! Which gives me a great idea...”
Baked Alaska was the dessert of choice at ’70s dinner dances and weddings. And what an inspired choice! It’s a magical dish – sponge cake, topped with ice cream, insulated with a coating of meringue. Magic because it comes out of the oven both roasting hot and freezing cold.
There and then the Brunette determined to make it that very night. We had friends coming round and what nicer dessert to give them?
A block of HB vanilla ice cream was bought and the Brunette baked the sponge-cake base. A fresh pineapple was diced rather than using tinned rings. She decided to make the meringue topping before our guests arrived, refrigerate, and then assemble the whole thing at the last minute.
And then, horror! All the eggs had been used up making a Spanish omelette earlier! It was too late for a hike to the shops and the hens’ nesting boxes were bare. So dessert became a very deconstructed Baked Alaska – not baked and with no meringue! No one complained. But it set the Brunette thinking (defeat is not in her vocabulary). Next time we had dinner, she would make a Baked Alaska. And what’s more, it would be fancy! Here is a version to try.
Piña Colada Baked Alaska
What you need
For the sponge cake
- 225g soft butter
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 large free-range eggs
- Dash of milk
For the filling
- A tub of coconut ice cream
- One pineapple
- 1 tablespoon of white rum
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
For the meringue topping
- 2 free-range egg whites
- 50g icing sugar
What you do
Start with the sponge. Pre–heat the oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens). Line a 23cm baking tin with greaseproof paper. Beat the sugar and butter together with an electric whisk ’til creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time. If the mix curdles, add a tablespoon of sieved flour. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Peel the pineapple. Cut out the core then dice the flesh. Macerate in a bowl with the rum and sugar.
For the meringue, put the egg whites and icing sugar in a spotless, totally grease-free bowl. Whisk with an electric mixer till the meringue starts to form peaks. It does take time – don’t panic!
Preheat your oven to 230°C degrees, or whatever its highest setting is.
Make sure the sponge cake is completely cool before you assemble the pudding. Spoon the fruit on top of the cake. Arrange scoops of ice cream (as cold as possible, straight out of the freezer) on top of the fruit in a mound shape. Cover everything with the meringue mix making sure that the ice cream is completely encased. Bake for three to five minutes, until the meringue is golden.
Slice and decorate with cocktail umbrellas, and get out the old vinyl record player!
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.