Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska

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 Alasa or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”. The recipes can be found here.

This challenge turned out to be quite the adventure. The concept behind baked Alaska is that you start with some sort of cake, generously top it with ice cream, cover it with meringue, freeze the whole thing and then manage to cook the meringue without melting the ice cream.

For the cake we were asked to make brown butter pound cake. I mixed up a half batch of the batter and baked two small cakes in the 1 cup pyrex dishes I have with a little bit of batter left over. In retrospect I think it would have baked more evenly if I had split that amount of batter between three cakes that size (or, you know, followed the instructions - but where's the fun in that). Despite the slight issues with baking, the brown butter pound cake was absolutely fantastic.

I started with my mom's recipe for vanilla ice cream and froze it using the stir-every-hour method. It does not not come out as wonderfully smooth as it does in an ice cream maker, but it is still delicious. Once it was frozen, I chopped up a peach and mixed it in. I prefer this version of peach ice cream to the one I made last month.

Then there is the meringue... My meringue skills need work. It was delicious, but even with freezing did not want to actually stay on. The result was a tasty mess, but nothing so impressive looking as baked Alaska is supposed to be.

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