The ice cream maker

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.

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Still going strong

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.

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Masterchef 2016 Pop up savoury ice cream challenge

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.

Building the anticipation #cuisinart

A post shared by Rachel Astle (@rastleness) on

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.

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Amazing colour

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.

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It’s healthy when paired with fruit!

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.

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12 thoughts on “The ice cream maker

  1. Peach and cinnamon sounds divine. Home-made ice-cream after hosting a dinner party, the perfect flair! Thank you for sharing, I hadn’t ever thought about making my own ice-cream . . .

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  2. I made mango and coconut ice-cream for desert on Christmas last year and felt like a bit of a cheat for using a no-churn recipe. It turned out really well and I’d love to give it a go using an actual ice-cream maker! You’re flavour combinations sound delicious. Orange ice-cream, yum!

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  3. I’m sitting at my desk freezing my fingers and toes off, but after reading your post I am craving for ice cream! Your recipes are mouth-watering. I’ve never made ice cream before but a friend of mine owns an ice-cream maker, so it looks like I’m going to be practicing for a while… such an inspiration! Can’t wait to get started and nom these down (and also get some instagram content!).

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  4. Being lactose intolerant, I have always toyed with the idea of getting myself an ice-cream maker rather than forking out for the dairy free ice-cream alternatives, that are, thankfully, a lot more available now than they once were (although no less expensive).

    As you pointed out, there have been numerous failures at creating ice-cream on cooking shows, and that had put me off.

    But you (and your delightful looking cook-nook) have given me hope. Thank you ❤

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    1. Go for it! There are so many non-dairy options in gelato – think fruit juice as the liquid base. Next season I am going to look at using almond and coconut milks to give a different flavour profile.

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