14 January 2011

Ginger syrup sponge pudding and vanilla ice-cream

Another day, another egg-induced panic. Ice cream is always a good way of using them up, of course. For future reference, here is my bulk recipe for basic vanilla ice-cream, made with home-made cream, for reasons previously rehearsed.


1lb/454g unsalted butter (must be unsalted)
32 (UK) fluid ounces/900ml milk (3-4% fat)
1½ cups sugar
8 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

To make the cream, melt the butter and then put it in a blender with half of the milk (16 fl. oz/450ml). Blend on high speed to combine them well. This is your cream, but it will tend to separate back into milk and butter if you don't emulsify it with the eggs (my Bel cream maker can do the emulsifying, but it's such hard work - this way is much easier). So that's the next stage. Put the cream back into the pan in which you melted the butter (wipe it round with kitchen paper first, so that you don't have big globules of butter left in it), add the sugar and put the pan on a medium heat while you deal with the eggs.

I use whole eggs, rather than just yolks, for my ice cream but find that they work best if I blend them first. You don't have to clean out the remains of the butter and milk mixture from the blender - just break the eggs into the empty goblet and blend briefly - you don't want it too frothy, just uniform-looking. Pour the remaining milk into a large bowl and set a sieve over it.

When the cream is nearly at boiling point, pour it into the blended eggs. Don't do it the other way - putting the eggs into the cream - they will curdle and you'll have wasted all that effort. Then tip the cream and egg mixture back into the pan, still on a medium heat, add the sugar and stir continuously until the mixture (custard, really) starts to thicken. When the custard thickly coats the back of the spoon (so that if you draw your finger across it, the line you make stays there), then it's ready.

Pour the hot custard through the sieve into the milk to make sure that no bits of cooked egg white go into your ice cream. Mix the custard into the milk and taste the mixture to make sure that it is sweet enough for you (it's often at this point that I realise I've forgotten to add the sugar, so I always taste it, to be sure!). Add the vanilla extract and allow the mixture to chill before putting it in your ice-cream maker. This quantity makes three batches in my machine - enough to serve about 12 people. Or (more likely) the same four people three times.

Of course ice-cream is all very well, but it's somehow not that appealing as a dessert on days like today, when the outside temperature peaked at -6°C/21°F. Something more warming was called for, so I made an old British favourite - syrup sponge pudding, with a warming ginger twist.


4oz softened butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
4oz flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons syrup (I used a mixture of Golden Syrup and maple syrup)

Mix the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the eggs, then fold in the flour, baking powder and ginger. Grease a one-litre/two-pint bowl and spoon the syrup into the base. Pile the mixture on top of the syrup. Cover with plastic film and microwave on full power for about two and a half minutes, until the pudding is well risen. You can steam this pudding too, but that takes a long time (two hours!) - this is one case where the microwave really comes into its own for a last-minute dessert.

I didn't have time to take a photo of the finished pudding before it was itself finished. But here's a nice one from the Pudding Club, which gives the general idea.

Except that you have to imagine a scoop of home-made vanilla ice-cream melting into it...

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