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Ice cream . . . what could be simpler?

Ice creamIce cream in various guises has been known for centuries, even before the invention of freezers! The likes of Julius Caesar was said to have enjoyed it, it may have been fresh snow combined with fresh fruits and maybe some cream added but it seems we have long held this frozen delight in great esteem. Another story says that at an exhibition in the USA an ice cream vendor was next to a waffle maker and after running out of dishes for the ice cream they put their heads together and through accident rather than design the ice cream cone was born.

What could be nicer with summer approaching the northern hemisphere than making and enjoying your very own, fresh ice cream at home? It need not be complicated either. This week I will share with you a few ways that luscious, fresh, creamy ice cream can be made at home. Hopefully I will cover all the bases or problems that you may have previously encountered with this task like not having an ice cream machine, basic mixture splitting, etc.

Join me next week for a couple of ice cream recipes with a difference!

What makes a great ice cream?
Obviously a great recipe is a must but more than that, one must understand what is happening at a chemical level as it is being made to truly make a great ice cream.

As the mixture starts to freeze, ice crystals are formed. To achieve a true smooth finish the production of small ice crystals is a must. Achieving this is a combination of freezing the mixture as quickly as possible and / or churning. This is precisely the reasons why ice cream making at home is best done with a small ice cream machine.

Interestingly if you were to pour liquid nitrogen into your basic mixture, it would freeze down in less than a minute and the tiniest of crystals would form and strangely enough you would have to wait for it to warm up before you could eat it!

Machine or not machine?
Let me first of all answer the question most often asked. Do you need an expensive ice cream machine? No you do not. Of course, if you can afford one and intend to make fresh ice cream often then they are a great investment. If you just intend to make the occasional batch for a special dinner party, then there are ways around not having a machine . . . as I will share with you this week.

Fresh custard base, tinned or packet?
Most (but not all) ice creams are made from a custard base to which flavourings are added. The true aficionado will go for the fresh, home made custard base and why not? You have so much more control over its texture, creaminess or reduced fat content (by making with skimmed milk), its vanilla flavour and of course its total lack of additives and preservatives.

That said, if you have no time, patience or skill for making fresh egg custard (omit the saffron) then I suggest the tinned version over the packet as this tends to be not so strong in vanilla or artificial flavours . . . but this does depend on your local brands, etc.

Fresh egg custard can be made as creamy or as low fat as one wishes. You can make it:

  • totally with cream but great care has to be taken as it tends to burn very easily
  • half cream and milk (or any proportion thereof)
  • with non-fat / skimmed milk

For the most part these are best added to the fresh custard as you are making it, if you are using pre-made tinned custard, heat it through and add the flavouring ingredients.

What flavourings to use? There are so many options:

  • Tinned fruits puréed in a food processor
  • Fresh fruits lightly stewed (with a minimum amount of liquid) and puréed in a food processor
  • Puréed berries
  • If you like chocolate add some cocoa and chocolate essence to the custard (be sure to add grated chocolate)
  • Fruit or liqueur essences
  • Fresh fruit essence / syrup

Flavouring tips

  • The list is endless. An important point to remember however is that food loses its flavour when frozen, so you must flavour the custard quite strongly to allow for this flavour loss. It normally takes a couple of attempts to find your taste levels.
  • To add your favourite alcohol flavour such as Cointreau, whisky, etc to your ice creams, you need first of all to remove the actual alcohol content as the alcohol will retard or prevent the ice cream from freezing. This can be achieved by pouring the liqueur into a pan, carefully heating and very carefully igniting it. Once the flame has died out the alcohol has been removed and what is left is basically pure flavour.
  • To make a beer flavoured ice cream . . . join me next week!
  • If you would like a swirl or ripple effect to your ice cream, this needs to be folded through when the ice cream is semi frozen. This ripple can be a bought fudge sauce, a pure fruit purée, etc

To lighten the texture to that similar to a parfait, fold through lightly whipped cream and / or whipped egg white (left over from making the fresh egg custard) to the cold custard before you begin to freeze it. For tips on egg white whipping <click here>


Care should be taken not to overfill the machine's bowl as the mixture will expand during the churning process. It is recommended that the bowl is filled no more than two-thirds full with the initial mixture.

  • Turn on machine and allow to chill down according to manufacturers instructions

  • Make the custard and flavour accordingly

  • Pour into the machine and follow manufacturers instructions

  • Remove and place in the freezer


  • Make the custard and flavour accordingly and allow to cool

  • In a large bowl place a smaller bowl (but large enough to hold the ice cream mixture) in the gap between the large and small bowl fill this with ice cubes (break up smaller if required)

  • Sprinkle lightly with salt - this will reduce the temperature of the ice

  • Pour the ice cream into the smaller inner bowl

  • Allow to begin freezing, stirring, whisking and scraping down the sides as it starts to freeze (this can be placed in the freezer if you wish to speed up the process) - the stirring, etc is essential to prevent large ice crystals from forming

  • This ice cream is best served as soon as it is has frozen to a soft consistency. If you would like to use it the next day or later see the following method for softening it back up


  • Make the custard and flavour accordingly and allow to cool

  • Pour into a tray (it is best if the mixture is approximately 4 cm deep) and place in the freezer

  • Stir from time to time as it freezes

  • When half of the mixture has frozen, remove and place into a food processor and pulse to break up

  • Place back into the tray and three-quarters freeze

  • Remove and place back into the food processor and pulse to break up

  • Allow to three-quarters freeze again and pulse one more time in the food processor before freezing for the last time

  • This last freezing is best done in a storage container

  • Use as required


I have suggested a quarter of a vanilla pod or half a teaspoon of vanilla essence, this is presuming you will be using it as a base and actually flavouring your ice cream with other fruits, essences, etc. If you love fresh vanilla ice cream increase to half or one pod or one teaspoon of essence.


egg yolks
castor sugar
milk or cream
vanilla pod
vanilla essence


  • Place the yolks and sugar into a bowl whisk until almost white

  • Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add both pod and seeds to the milk / cream, bring to the boil and remove the pod

  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes then temper the egg mixture by slowly adding half the hot milk / cream to it while constantly stirring

  • Stir the tempered egg mixture into the remaining hot milk / cream

  • Place back on a medium heat and continue to cook stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you can drag your finger across the back of the spoon and leave a clear channel it is ready. Any more cooking will curdle the custard

  • Allow to cool slightly before adding any berry purée, etc

  • The mixture is now ready for placing in the ice cream machine or freezer

Chef's Tip:

Eggs cook, curdle or coagulate at 72°C so great care must be taken not to overheat the mixture or allow it to boil

Whenever making Crème Anglaise with fresh vanilla it is also nice to leave the vanilla seeds in - it leaves an attractive finish to the ice cream and shows the guests that fresh vanilla was used.

Enjoy your ice cream and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com