I have never thought much about ice cream. It was always there in the freezer – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry nestled side by side. The chocolate always disappeared first in my family, possibly helped along by the sneaky spoonful or two eaten when I had the house to myself. I still don’t really know whether vanilla is my mother’s favourite.
Now handmade ice cream is trendy, really trendy. Desserts can’t be served without a quenelle of ice-cream, a slice of parfait or a scoop of gelato.
Contestants on all the cooking shows confidently whisk the custard and develop quirky flavours. As the green tea and peppercorn mix is tipped into the ice cream machine fingers are crossed. Cut to the next take, the contestant twists the knob and ice-cream pours out – relief if all has gone to plan and horror if the texture is all wrong.
It looked like fun so decided I would give it a go. I found a discounted ice cream machine on-line, mostly I suspect because it is orange – in design terms “papaya”. I proceeded to the checkout and felt like I was on the fast track to creating grand and impressive frozen desserts. After I lugged it home from the post office my next challenge was to find an appropriate spot for it to live. I have a small kitchen so something was going to be displaced by the fancy new arrival. I settled on moving some cook books to make enough room.
I’m not sure why I chose peach and cinnamon as my first flavour. Probably in part because peaches were coming into season. But mostly because I love fruit and spice compotes and why not use that as a flavour base. I sought out a recipe for the custard and read it carefully. There were several more steps than I had realised – this was going to take a bit longer and rather more effort than seemed to be required on TV.
With the custard and peach mix made and cooled I could finally pour it into the frozen bowl and turned on the machine. Grrrrh… grrrrh… grrrrh – the paddle started turning. I watched in fascination as it scraped the frozen edges of peach custard away from the side and pushed it back into the mix. As soon as the paddle moved past more custard flowed into the icy wake.
Returning half an hour later, I dipped a teaspoon into the freshly churned ice cream and was rewarded with a burst of sweet peaches, spicy cinnamon and creamy custard. To my utter surprise my first effort was a success!
The following week I made blackberry and fennel seed gelato. Next time I will go a little easier on the fennel and wrap the seeds in cheesecloth so I can extract them before blitzing the mix.
Then apple and lemon verbena sorbet. This was so light and refreshing it could be one of those palate cleansers. Then orange ice cream which I served with summer fruit salad. Again, I would use cheese cloth for the orange peel so I can get the flavour, but not have the bits in the final dish.
There are many other flavours running around in my head, which when I remember I write them down. But now it is autumn – the rain is here, the days are getting cooler – and my bright orange beauty has been relegated to a cupboard until next summer, or maybe spring.