Two things happened earlier this week: firstly, it came to my attention that it’s National Ice Cream Week. Secondly, I suddenly got overwhelmed by the huge amount of space my elderflower cordial is taking up in my freezer.
So, I did the obvious thing, and made a batch of elderflower ice cream.
The recipe is a little more complicated than a quick fruit sorbet, but it’s worth the effort. I stayed up late making the ice cream, but it was rewarding as hell the next morning, demolishing a bowlful with honey and blueberries for breakfast.
100g caster sugar
3 teaspoons of liquid glucose
3 egg yolks
250g crème fraiche
150 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons of good honey
5 tablespoons of elderflower cordial (click here for the recipe to make your own – otherwise I recommend Bottle Green cordial – quite pricey, but a real treat)
Before I started cooking, the first hurdle was to source the liquid glucose, which is supposed to be ‘easy to get hold of’.
Neither Somerfield nor Waitrose stocked it. Then the man behind the counter at the Marble Arch Health Food shop spent five minutes counting £50 notes into an envelope before telling me that he didn’t have any either. The people at Superdrug were insistent that I wanted Lucozade tablets instead, and even the big Boots by Bond Street sent me all over the shop before finally digging out a pot behind the counter at the upstairs pharmacy.
(To add insult to injury, the 140g pot was 99p, and the 280g pot was £2.50 — when I told them that I’d have two small pots then, they said they only had one left. Bizarre.)
Still, I was consoled by the fact that the addition of liquid glucose to my ice cream gave it the best consistency I’ve ever achieved without an ice cream maker, so it was all worth it in the end.
Now, the actual recipe part. Start by putting the milk, sugar and glucose in a pan, and heating it gently. The trick with this recipe is to do the heating part slowly and lovingly, rather than blasting the liquid on a hot hob.
While the milky liquid is heating, plop the egg yolks in a big bowl, and give them a good whisk.
Once the sugar and glucose has absorbed into the milk, pour half of it in with the yolks while whisking continuously. Next, pour the yolky milk back into the pan containing the remainder of the milk.
Now heat up the custard – take your time, and keep stirring it. The idea is to coax the light, milky liquid into a thicker, yellower custard. Whatever happens, don’t blast it into a furiously bubbling mess, which is part-welded to the bottom of the pan.
Strain your custard through a fine sieve, and then leave it to cool. I did an ice-water bain marie in the sink to speed this process up (because it was about 11:30 and I wanted to go to bed!)
In the meantime, combine the crème fraiche, cream, elderflower cordial and honey in a jug. Pour it into the custard (once it’s sufficiently cooled) and stir until everything’s combined.
If you’re the lucky owner of an ice cream machine, I believe that this is the point where you put it the flavoured custard, and press the ‘on’ button. If, like me, your finances don’t stretch to an ice cream maker, or your kitchen is too small to accommodate one, then tip everything into a tub or little moulds (I find it easier to store and serve that way).
You’re supposed to stir the ice cream four or five times as it freezes to break up the crystals…but, as I mentioned, it was time for bed, so I decided that the liquid glucose might do the job for me.
Sure, it wasn’t Mr Whippy, or gelateria-soft…but when I was making my morning cuppa, I took it our of the freezer, and by the time I’d ironed my blouse and got changed, it was the perfect consistency for an easy-to-eat, ice cream breakfast.
Nb. I’ve been trying to come up with serving suggestions for the elderflower and honey ice cream to turn it into a real stunner of a pudding. So far, I reckon amaretti biscuits or plum crumble would go exceedingly well – please let me know if you have any other suggestions.