Tuesday 2 September 2014

Great Bloggers Bake Off: Baked Alaska edition

Lemon & Lime Baked Alaska
After "Bingate" I couldn't resist making a Baked Alaska for the Great Bloggers Bake Off.  I used to make one every year for Dave's birthday but once I discovered the wonderful world of cake decorating, they fell by the wayside.  Which is a shame, because a Baked Alaska done right is a cracking dessert!  (Not at all 'nasty'  or 'embarrassingly retro' as Ruby Tandoh said in The Guardian!!)

With the benefit of hindsight, I bet Iain wishes that he'd saved the very centre of the ice-cream and a bit of sponge...he could have done a mini Alaska for them to taste.  Mind you, both Mary and Paul seemed highly unsympathetic to his ice-cream being left out.  Last year, after Custardgate, they tossed out the baker who'd used the other competitor's custard.  At any rate, now that Diana's had to drop out due to ill health--losing your sense of smell and taste is just horrible, I hope it comes back in time--I am willing to bet that Iain will be back in the tent tomorrow night to make up numbers...

Enough of Bingate, and back to my own baking!  I had intended to just do a small one, since it was just the three of us, but it turns out that I don't do small.  As I poured ice-cream mix into the lined bowl I did wonder if it was perhaps a bit big, but carried on regardless.  Dave and Lucas ended up providing a Baked Alaska Home Delivery service to the family!!  Next time I make one, I'll throw a Baked Alaska party...

Dave asked for a citrus ice-cream, so I obliged with Lemon and Lime and I also added a thin layer of mandarin orange slices underneath for a Citrus Extravaganza.  If you're baking for adults only, then you could soak the sponge with Cointreau or Grand Marnier rather than fruit juice.  The slight bitterness of the liqueur would nicely offset the intense sweetness of the meringue and ice-cream.

We don't have a blowtorch at home--and I call myself a foodie--as I get a bit twitchy about something full of fuel hanging around in the drawer, so I made a French meringue and shoved it into the oven.  I thought about sitting on the kitchen floor Bake Off style and talking nervously to camera, but leaning on the counter drinking a cocktail seemed much more fun.

Eight minutes later I pulled a beautifully browned Baked Alaska out of the oven.  The meringue was gorgeously crispy on the outside and just-cooked inside so that it was marshmallow-like in texture.  It did its job really well, as the ice-cream was only just starting to melt on the outside.  Because I didn't have enough meringue to completely cover the cake layer, the bare edges got all toasty which turned out to be awesome.  Such a great textural contrast and toasted sponge tastes so, so good.

My only regret is that I didn't put together the Baked Alaska earlier in the day.  The dark evenings made photographing it a nightmare!  (Maybe I should have dyed the ice-cream a bright green for contrast?)

Lucas, who had never eaten Baked Alaska before, loved it.  For Dave and I it was a nice citrusy trip down memory lane.  I'm pondering doing it again, but using little pudding basins to give individual Baked Alaskas that could happily live in the freezer for a few weeks as emergency "I Need Sugar!" desserts.

If the trials and tribulations of the GBBO contestants have put you off making your own Baked Alaska, think again!  You can do so much in advance, and you absolutely don't have to make your own sponge or ice-cream--Mary Berry's recipe uses a bought sponge and jam--if you don't want to.  Give it a go!

Lemon and lime no-churn ice-cream

2 lemons
2 limes
175g icing sugar
568ml tub double cream

Zest and juice the fruit into a large bowl (your mixer bowl is ideal for this), making sure to remove all the pips!  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add the cream and whisk on a medium speed until soft peaks form.

Line a pyrex or pudding bowl with a couple of layers of clingfilm and carefully fill it to the top with the ice-cream mixture.  Press a layer of clingfilm over the top and seal.  Freeze until hard.  This took about six hours.  Overnight (or longer) is fine.

Sponge cake

110g caster sugar
110g unsalted butter, room temperature
110g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan oven).  Grease a loose-bottomed 8" sandwich tin with butter.  Set aside.

Place all ingredients, except for the milk, into your food processor.  Blend until a cake batter forms.  Slowly pour in the milk, pulsing the mixture.

Scrape all the cake batter into the prepared tin. Level the surface.  Bake for about 25 minutes until the top springs back when pressed.

Cool in the tin, on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out of the tin and leave to cool completely.

To finish

3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
Fruit of your choice, sliced as necessary (optional)
Liqueur to sprinkle the sponge base with (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sponge layer on top.

In a mixing bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Slowly add the sugar to the egg whites and keep whisking until glossy and the peaks are very stiff.

Sprinkle the sponge with fruit juice or liqueur and arrange a thin layer of fruit on top of the sponge.  I used tinned mandarin oranges and kept the layer as thin as possible.  Remove the ice-cream from the bowl--it should come out easily if you lined it with clingfilm--and place on top of the fruit.  Make sure you remove all the clingfilm!

Working quickly cover the ice-cream with the meringue, bringing it down to the cake and make sure there are no gaps.  The meringue insulates the ice-cream, so gappage means melty ice-cream!

Bake for 8-10 minutes, slide onto a serving plate and serve immediately in thick slices!



  1. I've never had this but since the episode I really want one..

  2. This looks incredible, Ang! I don't think I've ever had Baked Alaska before, but this is definitely tempting me!

  3. Can't believe they really thought it would be a good idea to edit the bake off like that. Why can't we just have a nice show about baking with no drama involved? I haven't had a baked alaska before, yours looks SO good! Can I come and live in your kitchen?! haha xx

  4. Wow, this is impressive! I've never made a baked alaska and I suspect I never will, but this looks delicious. x


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