Bi-Rite Creamery’s Ginger Ice Cream – Recipe Review
After focusing only on my recipes and adventures, I thought it’d be interesting to compare my method of ice cream making to somebody else’s. After trolling through ice cream recipe books on amazon and ice cream shop reviews on google, one name kept popping up: Bi Rite Creamery. Bi-Rite Creamery, run by Kris Hoogerhyde and Anne Walker in San Francisco, has received a plethora of positive reviews on yelp.com and is well known for its amazing ice cream, most notably the legendary salted caramel. I commend them for using only organic cream, organic milk, organic sugar, and organic egg yolks in their base mix and it is great to see a small business doing so well.
Kris and Anne have also released a book titled Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. I remember pre-ordering the book online and counting down the days to its release. When it finally arrived, I jumped straight in and spent the day reading through; I wanted to know what made their salted caramel so ‘orgasmic’. As interesting a read as it was, I had never tried one of their recipes until last week when I decided to give their Ginger Ice Cream recipe a go. I wanted to compare their method of ice cream making to mine and so followed their instructions to the letter. This is my review of their recipe.
I will first list their recipe and instructions. I will then discuss what I thought of the instructions, what I thought of the finished ice cream, and finish with what I would do differently.
Here is the recipe for Ginger Ice Cream from p.178 Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough:
Ginger Ice Cream
2 1/2 ounces (71g) fresh ginger (a knob about 5 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide)
2 cups (473ml) heavy cream
1 cup (237ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (50g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large (102g) egg yolks
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger (optional)
INFUSE THE MILK/CREAM
1. Peel the ginger and slice very thinly. Put the ginger in a nonreactive saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Put the pan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, drain the ginger, and put it back in the pan. Stir in the cream, milk, half the sugar (1/4 cup), and the salt.
2. Return the pan to medium-high heat. When the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges, remove from the heat and cover the pan. Let steep for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the cream mixture has an intense ginger flavour. (Taste it to monitor the progress; the mixture will be come bitter if over-steeped.)
MAKE THE BASE
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in the remaining sugar (1/4 cup). Set aside.
4. Uncover the cream mixture and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
5. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
6. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
7. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
FREEZE THE ICE CREAM
8. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. If using candied ginger, add it in the last minute or so of churning, or fold it in by hand after transferring the ice cream to the chilled container. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.
(i) WHAT I THOUGHT OF THE INSTRUCTIONS
COOKING THE MIXTURE
The only issue that I had with the recipe was the lack of precise time and temperature figures for cooking the ice cream base; this is an issue that is all too common to ice cream recipe books. In my opinion, not knowing what temperature to cook the ice cream mix to makes it extremely easy to curdle the egg yolks, develop the unpleasant ‘eggy’ hydrogen sulphide taste, and cause proteins to irreversibly unfold, which is detrimental to texture.
Also, not knowing exactly how long to hold the mixture at a specific temperature and having to rely solely on the coat the back of the spoon trick not only makes ice cream making at home extremely inconsistent, but makes it difficult, if not impossible, for cooks, especially those that are new to ice cream making, to judge when the ice cream mix is done.
At the beginning of the book there is a handy Techniques section, which aims to guide the cook through the heating process with useful pictures and instructions. The TIP at the top of p.15 states:
After adding the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan, it might take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes for the base to thicken properly. The amount of time depends on your stove, the size and shape of the pan you’re using, and how hot the cream mixture was to start with. Be patient and pay close attention as it cooks – practice is the best teacher!
I found the 1 to 5 minutes suggestion to be extremely confusing. At step 6. of the recipe, I cooked the mix over medium heat for 5 minutes. I then took the mix off the heat and checked whether the mix [coated] the back of a spatula, and [held] a clear path when I ran my finger across the spatula, which it didn’t. I then put the mix back on a medium heat for an additional 5 minutes. Again the mix did not coat the back of the spatula. I was extremely confused as to what to do because the TIP appeared to suggest a heating period of between 1 to 5 minutes. I checked the recipe again and noticed that point 6 of the Techniques section stated:
You’ll notice that the mixture will start to thicken slightly and you’ll feel a little more resistance as you stir.
How much resistance should I feel and how thick should the mix be I wondered. Partly because of these conflicting TIPs, I think that too many cooks stop cooking the mix way before it has been sufficiently concentrated, which increases the likelihood of the ice cream having a coarse and grainy texture.
Another reason that I stopped cooking the mix after a total of 10 minutes was that I noticed the temperature rising above 80°C. Again, the lack of a precise heating temperature, I believe, makes it extremely easy for cooks to continue heating the mix well above 80°C, curdling the egg yolks and promoting the ‘eggy’ hydrogen sulphide taste.
At this point I decided to continue cooking the mix until I was happy that the mix coated the back of the spatula and that I felt a little more resistance as I stirred; this took a further 40 minutes of heating at around 73°C. Again, I don’t think that many cooks would have continued heating the mix for such a long time if they weren’t aware of the importance of reducing the mix. What this means is that in all too many cases, the mix isn’t reduced enough to promote the development of small ice crystals and a smooth and creamy texture.
(ii) WHAT I THOUGHT OF THE FINISHED ICE CREAM
I thought the texture of the finished ice cream was very nice and creamy. However, I think that this was partly because I was aware of the importance of heating the mix for such a long time. I think that many more home cooks would be able to make truly creamy ice cream if only they were made aware of the importance of concentrating the mix for 60 minutes during the heating process.
The ice cream whipped well in the machine and had a nice dry texture, partially due to the high percentage of egg yolks.
The ice cream tasted a lot like lemon curd with a slight tingle in the back of the throat. This wasn’t a negative flavour (maybe because I love the flavour of lemon curd) but it should have had more of a pronounced ginger flavour. It may have been that heating the mix for 40 minutes together with the ginger resulted in a loss of many of the volatile flavour compounds and weakened the ginger flavour. The ice cream had a nice sweetness to it and a slight egg yolk aftertaste. The egg yolk flavour wasn’t negative but was noticeable.
(iii) WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY
SPECIFIC TIME AND TEMPERATURE FIGURES
If I were asked to re-rite the directions for this recipe, I would first and foremost tell the cook the importance of heating the mix for 60 minutes to promote reversible protein unfolding and increase the protein content in a mix. I would also write a short paragraph explaining at around about what temperature egg yolks start to curdle, as well as a short paragraph explaining the ‘eggy’ hydrogen sulphide taste that is produced by eggs at high temperatures. I would use both of these points to stress the importance of holding an ice cream mix at around 71.4°C for 60 minutes.
I would also remove the ginger from the mix and not cook it together with the eggs, milk, sugar, and cream. I would, instead, add the ginger at the end of the heating process and let it steep in the mix overnight. The ginger flavour in the above recipe was too subtle for me.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A LARGE PAN
I would also stress the role, and importance, of a large pan in ice cream making. The book does mention in the Techniques section that The amount of time [to thicken a mix] depends on your stove, the size and shape of your pan… However, I think that it needs to go further in detailing that a large pan will increase the surface area that is in contact with the heat and so the rate of evaporation. The larger the pan, the more water will evaporate during the heating process. The more water that is evaporated, the more concentrated the mix becomes and the creamier the texture is likely to be.
Overall, the ginger ice cream had a nice sweet lemon/ginger flavour with a slight kick in the back of the throat. It had a nice creamy texture with a slight egg aftertaste that added to the richness of the ice cream.
I hope this review helps. Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments.