Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Summer Saturday

For several years now, Lauren and I have been planning to go berry picking one weekend. The problem is that berry picking is only an available activity for a few short weeks during the Summer, and generally these pass us by before we've even thought of going.

This weekend we'd finally made plans to go. The weather was looking dodgily changeable, but we decided that if we put it off, we'd never end up going. As luck would have it, the weather made its mind up and came out sunny, at least long enough for us to do our raspberry picking and follow it up with a cuppa and cake.

I'd already decided to use some of my berries for another activity I'd mentally set aside for a nice Summer's day: making ice cream. The Edmonds recipe is for a plain ice cream, but there is a list of suggestions for flavouring, among which is the addition of pureed berries.

Ice cream is actually pretty simple - all you need is a good electric beater. I started mine off in my large mixer, but since I had to beat several things in separate bowls, I ended up using my hand-held beater. Another time I'd just use the beater for everything.

The first step is to beat the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add in castor sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Next, beat the egg yolks - also with castor sugar - until thick and pale, then fold into the egg whites. The mixture already looks (and tastes) really nice at this stage, but there's one more thing to add: cream, beaten until thick and folded through the egg mixture.

This is the basic ice cream recipe, but I wanted to make use of some of my berries. I measured out a generous cupful, then squished them up with a potato masher and folded the puree through my ice cream.

My mouth was already watering and I hadn't even frozen it down yet! I poured my not-yet-ice cream into a shallow dish and placed it in the freezer. The freezing-down time is two hours, but when I checked it at this point, only the surface had frozen. After about three or four, it was firmer, but still quite gooey in the centre.

I didn't want to wait any longer, so I scooped out a serving, added a generous handful of fresh berries, and had a taste. It was delicious: sweet, creamy and subtly fruity. There was a hint of iciness around any larger chunks of berry, but overall, it was very, very tasty.

Overnight, the ice cream froze down completely, and I'm sorry to say it's become very icy, much like bought ice cream that has been partially defrosted, then refrozen. It's not the end of the world, of course: I'll just have to partially defrost each serving to that gooey, creamy stage before I eat it.

Perhaps that's the reason why the freezing-down time was only two hours in the recipe - maybe it's not supposed to get to that firm texture of bought ice cream. Don't let this put you off making this recipe, because it really is delicious. I'd just recommend putting it in the freezer about three or four hours before you intend to serve it - and don't be surprised if the leftovers end up going a bit icy.

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