This recipe will show you how to make an extremely creamy, dense, and rich sweet cream ice cream. As always, it is very important to use good quality organic ingredients to get the best flavour possible. Using free-range organic eggs will give the ice cream such a strong creamy colour that you cannot get with eggs from caged birds. This recipe will produce about 750ml of ice cream.
Organic cream, organic semi-skimmed milk, organic un-refined sugar, and organic egg yolks.
If you are using cream at 36% fat:
Semi-skimmed milk 413g
Egg yolks 72g
If you are using cream at 38% fat:
Semi-skimmed milk 440g
Egg yolks 72g
If you are using cream at 50.5% fat:
Semi-skimmed milk 555g
Egg yolks 72g
The tables below show the composition of the ice cream mix before and after heating for 60 minutes. The totals are expressed as a percentage of the mix.
1. Freezing the freezer bowl
For this recipe, I use the Cuisinart ICE30 which comes with a large 2 litre bowl. The day before you start making your ice cream, take your freezer bowl and cover the top with cling film; use an elastic band to help keep it in place.
Put the bowl in a plastic bag and tie the ends. The plastic bag and cling film will help prevent water from freezing to the inside of the bowl whilst in the freezer. Water frozen to the inside of the bowl will melt into the mix, increasing its water content thereby causing a sandy texture.
Take a 1 litre plastic container, the freezer bowl, and the ice cream dasher and place them in your freezer. Freezing will remove any heat stored in the dasher and container. Heat that is transferred to the ice cream during freezing from the container or dasher increases ice crystal size, by melting the crystals, contributing to a sandy texture.
It’s also important that you freeze enough water to make an ice bath. Freeze water in several ice trays or small plastic containers.
2. Setting the fridge and freezer temperature
It is very important that set your fridge to between 0 and 2°C to increase the rate of crystallisation when you age your mix in the fridge overnight. Crystallisation of fat during the ageing process helps maintain the shape of ice cream when it is served and also helps minimise the rate at which the ice cream melts. Set your freezer to around -25°C, or as cold as you can get it. Once churned in the ice cream maker, the quicker you can get your ice cream to below -18°C, the smaller the ice crystal are likely to be. The temperature and rate of hardening determine the final ice crystal size . Hardening is complete when the temperature at the centre of the container drops to -18°C or lower, preferably -25 to -30°C. The longer it takes for the ice cream to reach these temperatures, the larger the ice crystals will grow and, subsequently, the sandier the texture.
It is also important to get your freezer bowl as cold as possible. The colder your bowl is, the quicker it will freeze the ice cream. The quicker you freeze your mix, the smaller the ice crystals are likely to be and the creamier the texture.
I set my freezer to ‘super freeze’ when chilling my freezer bowl. This drops the temperature to around -27°C. At this low temperature, it takes me about 15 minutes to churn a mix, which is very good for a domestic ice cream maker (professional ice cream makers take about 8 minutes). If I set my freezer to around -18°C, it takes about 20 minutes for the bowl to churn and freeze a mix. Remember, the quicker you can churn your mix, the smaller the ice crystals are likely to be and the creamier the texture of your ice cream.
3. Preparing an ice bath
Once you have allowed enough water to freeze, take a large pan and fill it with enough ice to make an ice bath. Have a large zip-lock freezer bag ready next to the bowl, along with some table salt. The purpose of using a zip lock bag and water bath is to ensure that the mix is cooled as quickly as possible, minimising the time the mix spends in the ‘danger zone’; between 5 and 65°C. In this temperature range, bacteria in your mix is likely to multiply, imparting a very undesirable smell and taste. Allowing bacteria to multiply is also not the best thing for your health.
4. Size of pan
As strange as it sounds, the size of the pan in which you heat your mix is very important. The larger the diameter of your pan, the more water will evaporate during heating. This is important because the fundamental reason for heating your mix for 60 minutes is to concentrate the milk solids non fat, more specifically the protein. By concentrating the mix, you increase the percentage of protein. Protein plays a significant role in limiting the size of ice crystals, thereby improving texture, so the higher the percentage of protein in your mix the better.
I recommend using a large pan with a 23cm diameter. This will allow you to concentrate your mix by about 32%. If you use a pan with a small diameter, you won’t be able to reduce the mix by the same amount in 60 minutes. The texture won’t be as smooth and creamy as a that prepared in pan with a larger diameter.
5. Heating your mix
Once you have prepared an ice bath, add the sugar and the egg yolks to the large heavy pan. Mix the eggs and sugar together until both ingredients have combined. The sugar mixed with the yolks will help prevent the yolks from curdling. Add the cream and milk and gently stir the mix before you switch the heat on.
Over a medium heat, heat the mixture until the temperature reaches 70°C, making sure that you are constantly stirring the mix. You will risk burning the proteins and curdling the egg yolks if you do not constantly stir.
Once the temperature reaches 70°C, turn the heat down to low and continue heating until the temperature reaches 71.4°C. Use a kitchen thermometer to keep the temperature at 71.4°C for 60 minutes. This will ensure that the whey proteins undergo reversible unfolding, but not aggregation, which will significantly improve the texture of the finished ice cream.
Do not let the temperature rise above 71.4°C. You will risk aggregating the proteins, which is detrimental to texture, and developing the unpleasant and eggy hydrogen sulphide taste if you heat the mixture above 71.4°C.
Heating the mix for 60 minutes may sound like a long time but believe me it is a small price to pay for extremely creamy ice cream. Holding the mix at 71.4°C for 60 minutes will mean that you will concentrate the mix by about 32%. Concentrating the mix will increase the percentage of protein, which contributes significantly to a smooth and creamy texture. I have played around with the heating periods and have found that a mix heated for 60 minutes will produce a much creamier and smoother ice cream than one heated for 15, 30, and 45 minutes.
6. Cooling the mix
After 60 minutes, take the pan off the heat and carefully pour the mix into the zip lock bag. Add about 3 tablespoons of salt to the ice in your ice bath. This will significantly lower the temperature of the ice, thereby cooling your mix faster.
Once the mix has cooled to about 10°C, place it in the fridge and leave overnight. It is important to allow enough time for the ice cream mix to age. Remember that crystallisation of fat during the ageing process helps maintain the shape of ice cream when it is served and also helps minimise the rate at which the ice cream melts.
7. Churning the mix
Once you have allowed the mix to chill and the bowl, dasher, and 1 litre containter to freeze overnight, place the freezer bowl in the machine and add the dasher. Put the lid on and, with the machine switched on, pour in the mix.
As soon as you pour in the mix, use your thumb to push the dasher against the side of the bowl. Pushing the dasher against the side will prevent any ice from freezing to the side. Any ice that is frozen to the side of the bowl will act as an insulator, slowing the release of heat from the ice cream to the bowl. If the transfer of heat from the ice cream to the freezer bowl is reduced, the ice cream will take longer to freeze. The longer the ice cream takes to freeze, the larger the ice crystals will grow and the sandier the texture will be. Keep the dasher pushed against the side of the bowl until you have finished churning the mix (sore thumbs is an additional price to pay for smooth creamy ice cream).
Use a spoon to push along any static lumps of ice cream. Any static lumps will start to melt, increasing the size of ice crystals, causing a sandy texture.
After about 20 minutes (or about 15 minutes if your freezer was set to around -27°C), switch the machine off and quickly empty the mix into the pre-chilled container. The longer you take to empty the ice cream into the container, the longer the ice cream will spend at room temperature. At room temperature, ice crystals will start to quickly melt. If ice crystals melt, they will grow bigger when the ice cream is placed in the freezer. Therefore, the longer the ice cream spends at room temperature, the sandier the texture will be. Be as quick as you can when emptying the ice cream into the plastic container.
Ice crystals will continue to grow until the temperature drops to below -18°C. It is therefore critical to get the your ice cream into the freezer and down to below -18°C as quickly as possible to prevent a sandy and coarse texture from developing. I recommend leaving your ice cream to harden in the freezer overnight.
8. Freezing the mix
9. Serving the ice cream
The next day, take the ice cream out of the freezer and let sit to thaw for between 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is soft enough to scoop. Serve the ice cream at below -12°C. As the serving temperature is increased from -14.4 to -7.8°C, flavour and sweetness become more pronounced.
Please let me know if you try this recipe as it would be great to get your feedback!