When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Baked Alaska August 28, 2010

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 Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

For this months challenge, I decided to go with the Baked Alaska.  Since I have made David’s Vanilla Ice Cream many times before, most notably last month, I decided to make a vegan vanilla ice cream instead.  Granted I didn’t do the entire challenge vegan, but I wanted to try something new.  Also, I knew that I didn’t want to go overboard on sweets so I only made 1/4 of the Brown Butter Pound Cake recipe.  However, I totally made a double batch of the Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream :)

The pound cake turned out great.  I ended up baking it in a 6×2 round cake pan for 25 minutes at 325, and it baked up perfectly.  I loved the flavor that the brown butter added to it.  It has the yummy butter flavor but with a slight nuttiness.  It was a perfect compliment to the vanilla ice cream.  The burnt meringue was a perfect addition with the vanilla ice cream and the nuttiness of the brown butter pound cake.  Yummy :)

Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream

Source: Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Makes 1 1/2 Pints

1/2 cup cream of coconut milk (see tip)

1 cup soy milk

3/4 cup sugar

6 oz silen tofu

1 tsp vanilla extract

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Pour into your ice-cream maker and follow the machine manufacturer’s instructions.

TIP: We actually just used the cream from a can of coconut milk.  Place the can in fridge overnight and the cream will rise to the top.  Open the can carefully and scoop out half a cup of cream.  Freeze the rest for use in a soup or another recipe some other time.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Meringue (For the Baked Alaska)

8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions – Baked Alaska

1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

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