Daring Bakers Challenge August 2010: Baked Alaska with Brown Butter Pound Cake

my rendition of the Daring Bakers Challenge for August 2010: Baked Alaska with Brown Butter Pound Cake, lavender was the flavour of my choice for the icecream inside

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”.

Phew…I made it! August and upcoming September has been and will be a really hectic month for me as I’ve got loads to catch up on with my assignments after losing a week and a missed assessment to that wretched flu. I must admit, my reaction to the revealed Daring Bakers challenge for this month was “Another bombe? Ice cream? Again?!”. You see, last month’s challenge centered on an icecream bombe as well; understandably, it’s summer bliss up there in the nothern hemisphere and nothing cools off the heat better than ice cream. But hey, in the spirit of taking on an interesting and new challenge (for me) and to break away from my mundane books , I squeezed in some time to experiment with lavender ice cream for my baked alaska.

I followed the vanilla ice cream recipe provided by this month’s DB hosts, as sourced from The Perfect Scoop by ice cream guru, David Lebovitz but I added 1.5 tablespoonfuls of edible grade lavender buds – lavandula angustifolia, commonly known as English Lavender. Note that not all lavender are recommended for cooking due to varying  levels of camphor in different species, which your body will treat as a toxin. The English lavender is the safest to eat because it contains the lowest camphor concentration. The lavender and rose are two of my favourite flowers so I’ve actually added a drop of concentrated rose essence (just for a hint of rose perfume) into my Italian meringue; where the eggwhites are cooked by a hot sugar syrup and then whisked into a glossy stable meringue.

I’ve also never thought of incorporating burnt butter (beurre noisette) into a cake; I’ve only used it as a sauce for gnocchi dishes and in the crunchy praline layer of the V8 cake. Apart from a slightly greasy crumb, it tasted really nice; caramel-ish, slightly salty and nutty. For some weird reason, right after I removed the cake from the oven, it smelled a little like mushroom soup or maybe my nose is still out of whack.

What I liked most about this month’s DB challenge was the straightforward process and the fun element of blowtorching the meringue. But in terms of taste, meringue just doesn’t do it for me; I only like meringues in one form-pavlova that is crispy on the outside and slightly marshmallowy  inside with some crème chantilly, tangy and delectable passionfruit and summer berries to cut through the sweetness. I pushed most of the meringue to one side of my plate.  However, to my surprise, J polished his lot and said he liked the rose-flavoured meringue. Hmmm…..

 Click here for this month’s DB Challenge recipe.

Note: I used the challenge recipe for the brown butter pound cake but halved the ingredients which yielded me 2 x 8.8 cm diameter bombes which I cut out using cookie/scone cutters. I also followed the full vanilla ice cream recipe (extra for keeping) but flavoured it with additional lavender buds by infusing the warmed milk for about 1 hour before proceeding with the rest of the ice cream recipe. I left the buds in the icecream and churned it accordingly. 

For the meringue, as I preferred my eggwhites cooked (more of a food safety matter), I adapted an Italian Meringue recipe from my Hot and Cold Desserts workbook (William Angliss Institute), with some slight modifications to the sugar. The resulting meringue is very glossy and stable.

Ingredients

140 ml egg whites
250 g castor sugar
20 g glucose syrup
100 ml water

Method

  1. Bring sugar, glucose and water to the boil. Wash the sides of pot with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallisation.
  2. Boil steadily until the syrup reaches 1180C.
  3. With electric beaters, whisk egg whites to soft peaks.
  4. Slowly pour hot sugar syrup into the soft peak egg whites in a steady stream, continuing to whisk until cold.  

oops, slightly charred because I was balancing the blowtorch in one hand and the camera in the other 

cross-section of the baked alaska

the small slice I had..hehehe..the entire baked alaska was HUGE for a single serve ! even though I used standard sized ramekins as my ice cream moulds.

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4 comments to Daring Bakers Challenge August 2010: Baked Alaska with Brown Butter Pound Cake

  • Lena

    looks amazing as per usual =D

  • Mei Sze

    Thanks Helena… :)

  • Oh wow, your Baked Alaska looks amazing! I love the idea of using Italian meringue as it would’ve made it look so dreamy and glossy. And lavender ice cream sounds ambrosial. Awesome stuff 😀

  • Mei Sze

    Thanks Karen, I liked how you flambed your bombe alaska! The first time someone torched a brandy soaked rum pudding in front of my eyes, I couldn’t stop gawking! But alas, I don’t have any rum or brandy at home..hmmm..maybe a bottle of chivas regal ..but not sure what the alaska will taste like with whiskey…I have an extra one in the freezer..might try baking it in the oven tomorrow…apparently it gives a crispier result…mmmm..still drooling (albeit virtually) over your french earl grey tea ice cream…..