As the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic is now entering its 4th month many of us are so over the initial excitement of making our own bread. Besides, as we enter Summer, we want to be outside to enjoy grilling again. While it seems that many are now trying their hand at smoking to add a new element to their outdoor cooking, we can be inside making our own ice cream. It is a very Downton thing to do.
Victorians loved their ices (frozen desserts) which were a staple during the Summer, particularly at garden parties. Simple ices made of summer fruits, often frozen into elaborate metal moulds representing the shape of the fruits themselves, were fancied by Edwardians. I find it an amazing feat since they did not have the convenience of our conventional freezers. The estate dairy provided plenty of whole milk and cream so that the country house cook could also create a variety of rich ice creams to offer guests. You can recreate the same effect of moulded ices using simple silicon moulds in interesting shapes. Freezing your mixture into popsicles also counts, but feel free to simply serve your ices in small dessert bowls.
It is possible to make ice cream without an ice cream maker by simply placing your mixture into a pre-frozen loaf pan and then placed into the freezer to set, mixing it every hour or so, but it is time-consuming and the consistency just isn’t the same. Ice cream makers aerate the mixture to give it a full rich taste and do the work in as little as 20 minutes. The earliest ice cream mixers were cranked by hand, but now modern electric ice cream makers are compact and take all the time and labour out of the process.
It is interesting to note that in 1912 the cooks on Titanic were lucky to have electric-driven ice cream makers to make the freezing process less labour intensive. They also would have had freezer compartments to store ice cream. Most homes in this period did not have refrigeration, so you had to make and eat the ice cream right away.
Tips for Making Great Ice Cream
The only real downside of making your own ice cream is the tendency for it to harden when you put it in the freezer. Not a problem when you eat it all in one go. If you end up with super-hard ice cream, just let it sit at room temperature for 15 – 20 minutes which will allow it to soften.
Here are a few ways to help prevent hard ice cream in the first place:
- My go-to method is to add 4 tbsp. up to a 1/4 cup of vodka just before freezing. Vodka has a lower freezing point so it helps keep your ice cream from freezing too hard and will not change the taste of your ice cream.
- The right amount of sugar is important. Too much sugar will make it hard, too little and it will be too soft.
- Add 1-2 tbsp. cornstarch for every quart of your mixture which will serve as a thickening agent.
- Ensure that your cream mixture has been refrigerated for a number of hours prior to putting in your ice cream maker or freezer. This helps prevent large ice crystals from forming as it freezes.
- If you are cranking your ice cream by hand, know that the faster it is churned the more air that is whipped into it which will help with a less hard final product. You can bring back the tradition of passing the mixer around the table after dinner and everyone takes a turn at churning.
- It is the fat in the whipping cream which makes ice cream creamy, but you use substitutes. Try pureed frozen bananas, yoghurt, or non-fat coconut or evaporated milk to replace the fat.
Traditional Ice Cream
Lower Fat Ice Cream
More recipes in my Book
You will find more ice cream recipes in my book Abbey Cooks Entertain:
- Easy No-Churn Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream
- Sinfully Light Chocolate Yoghurt Ice Cream
- Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream
- Summer Berry Sorbet
Tools of the Trade
As Mrs. Patmore says, “a poor workman blames his tools”.
If you want to invest the time in learning to cook you should fortify yourself with proper cooking tools. I do love the hunt in my local cooking stores, but you can order items directly through Amazon, so you have more time to watch Downton.
I find using popsicle molds are a great way of keeping portion control. Roku is my favourite brand as it is durable and super easy to use.