Here one of our favourite blogger’s, The Little Loaf, gives us a sneak peak of her Peach Melba Baked Alaska recipe from her new cookbook: Homemade Memories. Enjoy!
When I was learning to bake as a child, we didn’t have lots of fancy kit. Our kitchen scales were the ancient sort where you balance your ingredients with weights, we timed things by the clock, and to this day my parents don’t own a hand-held electric mixer. Some tools, however, make life a lot easier and it’s well worth investing in an inexpensive blowtorch to make this recipe.
Don’t be put off by the lengthy instructions here: each step is fairly simple. And the resulting peachy ice cream surrounded with a cloud of toasted meringue is more than enough reward for all your hard work.
For the peaches and sauce
500g peaches (4–5 medium peaches)
2 tbsp honey
Juice of half a large lemon
1–2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted, to taste
Sunflower oil, for greasing
For the ice cream
1 x quantity vanilla custard, chilled
For the sponge
110g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp vanilla extract, homemade (see page 249) or shop-bought
95g plain white flour
For the meringue
4 egg whites, at room temperature
240g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract, homemade or shop-bought
Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Bring 300ml water to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan with the honey and lemon juice. Drop in the peach halves and poach for 2 minutes on each side until soft (longer if the fruit is under-ripe). Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the poaching liquid, and leave to cool completely. Slip off and discard the skins, then blitz the peach flesh in a blender or food processor to a coarse purée.
Transfer your purée to a bowl and rinse out the blender. Blitz the raspberries with 100ml of the poaching liquid and icing sugar, to taste. Pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds then transfer to a small jug and chill.
Lightly grease a 1kg loaf tin with sunflower oil then line with cling film. Fold two thirds of the peach purée into the chilled vanilla custard before freezing.
When the ice cream is frozen but still soft, swirl in the remaining peach purée then transfer to the prepared loaf tin. Cover with cling film and freeze for at least 6 hours or until firm.
To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas mark 6. Lightly grease a 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment, making sure it comes up at least 2.5cm above the edge of the rim.
In a medium bowl with a hand-held electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract for about 8 minutes until pale, thick and nearly tripled in volume. Sift over half the flour and use a large metal spoon to fold it in, followed by the remaining flour and the salt. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and dot the raspberries over the top. Bake for 10–12 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.
Transfer your sponge to a serving board that will fit in your freezer and remove the baking parchment. Remove your ice cream block from the freezer and invert on top of the sponge. Trim the sponge to the same size as the ice cream block and return to the freezer, along with any trimmed sponge pieces (which can be frozen and used another time).
In a large heat-proof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water (make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water), combine the egg whites and sugar. Heat – stirring occasionally – until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches 60°C on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, after 3–4 minutes try rubbing the mixture between your fingers – there should be no graininess from the sugar.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla extract, then whisk on high speed for about 8 minutes until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch. (It’s important that the meringue isn’t warm or it will melt your ice cream.)
Remove the ice cream and sponge from the freezer and spoon or pipe meringue over the top and sides until completely covered. Use a blowtorch to toast the meringue then serve immediately with the raspberry sauce.
The baked Alaska will keep in the freezer for 3–4 days. If serving from frozen, take it out to soften about 10 minutes before.
For more of The Little Loaf's recipes, buy her new cookbook Homemade Memories on Amazon.