Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake

It was the ultimate request. Could I make an ice cream cake to celebrate my brother’s completion of his Master’s degree?

“He will be happier than any little kid when he sees it!” my sister-in-law tells me.

How could anyone deny an appeal to rejoice in adult achievement with childlike pleasure? And, he is my “little brother,” after all! We are linked by lineage and love of Carvel Ice Cream.

Thus begins my education on ice cream cakes. I’d never made one, and had no idea how.

Ice cream cake is right up there with the best of legendary retro cakes – a most whimsical and mythical creation. How was it invented? Did Herman Melville conceive of Fudgie the Whale as the first ice cream cake? Indeed, not. There are all sorts of theories. Ice cream cake could be a cousin to the English Trifle, which features layers of cake and custard. The Victorians were wild about ice cream, and created works of art using ice cream molds that were sometimes lined with sponge cake. Empirical evidence would suggest a link to the ice cream sandwich, as well. You can read plenty more on ice cream lore, but if you read too long, the cake might melt!

Creating an ice cream cake is less about a recipe, and more about a creative theme and sculpting and layering skills. After much consideration and study, I decide on a strawberry short cake theme, quite appropriate for a summer celebration. There are many helpful guidelines online, and I learn a few useful techniques along the way. You also need to plan ahead and make room in your freezer, no small task in my house!

Basically, you need layers of cake and ice cream, with compatible flavors. The idea is to create a pretty layered pattern of colors and textures when the cake is sliced. Delicate ice cream flavors match well with white and butter cakes. Stronger ice cream flavors hold their own with chocolate cake. Pound cake is considered a good choice because of its firm texture.
I select a recipe for rich butter cake from "Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook" and match it with a quart of Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Ice Cream. You need three 9-inch layer cake pans, two for baking the cake and one for molding the layer of ice cream. While the cake is baking, let the ice cream soften and line one of the circular pans with plastic wrap. Spread the softened ice cream in the pan in a single layer and wrap well. Freeze for several hours. You will have a solid nine-inch disk of ice cream that becomes the middle layer of the cake.

I split each of the cooled cake layers in half, and spread seedless strawberry jam between. Then you carefully stack the three components, sandwich style – first a layer of cake and jam, then the ice cream disk in the center, and the second layer of cake and jam on top. Wrap tightly in plastic and freeze overnight. I place an open, 9-inch springform pan tube loosely around the cake to keep it steady as it freezes. It really needs a good solid 12 hours in the freezer.

On the morning of the party, combine 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin with two tablespoons of cold water in a heat proof cup. Allow gelatin to soften for five minutes, and then place in a simmering water bath until the gelatin has melted and is a clear amber color. Remove from the water bath and bring to room temperature. In a chilled bowl, whip two cups of heavy cream with 6 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. Add the cooled gelatin as the cream begins to thicken. The gelatin adds stability to the whipped cream. Quickly frost the cake and place it back in the freezer for several hours. Garnish with whole strawberries before serving. A sharp knife will glide through the frozen layers, but rather than sawing, press the knife down for best results.

I feel like I’ve earned my advanced degree in ice cream cake, and it was worth it to see the look on my brother’s face. I dedicate this post to him. Congratulations, John!
©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

15 comments:

Rochelle R. said...

It looks delicious and so professional. Adding the jam was a great idea. Congratulations to your brother on his Masters.

~~louise~~ said...

What a masterpiece! Priceless... Congratulations to your "little" brother and to you for such creativity and patience...

Julia said...

That's awesome! For such a classic, "basic" cake, that's a lot of work! And looks like yours came out beautifully.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Hard to believe this is your first-ever ice cream cake -- it looks absolutely perfect. I'm sure your brother was suitably awed, as befits his new status as holder of a Master's degree!

veron said...

Can you fedex a piece of that cake? You did a fantastic job with that icecream cake...and strawberry too! did you know the hungry hubby wanted an ice cream cake for our wedding, of course that didn't happen but if were going to have cake for his birthday it is always an ice cream cake. :)

doggybloggy said...

job well done...this looks great!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Wow! I am so impressed. This is a work of art, and I so wish I could have a slice of this.
Don't be surprised if I make this and blog about it. Lovely.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ah, yes, Carvel ice cream cakes. Since my b-day was late May, I always requested a Carvel cake. Who could resist those little chocolate crumbles? And who could resist this strawberry cake? I may need an intervention, after all, T.W. ;)

Jamie said...

That cake is gorgeous! Wowee! And thanks for all the tips (the ice cream layer, the stabilized whipped cream frosting). Brilliant, I say. Yes, you do deserve a Master's in Ice Cream Cakes!

Kalyn said...

The cake is gorgeous and I'd say you're a pretty nice brother.

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

Great job on your first try. I would have been the same way, "How do you make an ice-cream cake?"

Now, I know!

That was a nice thing to do for your brother!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I love the ice cream in the center of the cake. How cool is that?

I just subscribed via email to your blog so I don't miss any more of your goodies. I'm always late to the party.
Sam

Cakespy said...

OK, there's something wrong with this cake. You know what that is? It's not in my belly right now! This sounds so refreshing. And it's beautiful!

Lori Lynn said...

That slice of the cakes looks absolutely perfect.
I think you picked an excellent theme.
Congratulations to John!
LL

Jann said...

What a perfect tribute to your brother-you certainly deserve a medal! This is beautiful and I know it was delicious!