A Victorian take on baked alaska
This takes a while to make, but you will be rewarded by impressed guests. The princess surprise bombe was a Victorian favourite.
For the white coffee ice cream:
600ml thick double cream
50g roasted coffee beans
50g raw sugar
For the filling and base:
1 classic sponge, cooked in a baking tray to give it a rectangular shape
Maraschino, amaretto or hazelnut liqueur
For the meringue:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
225g raw sugar
Make the ice cream a minimum of 2 hours in advance. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer with the coffee beans and the sugar, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 1 hour. Allow to cool completely, then strain out the coffee beans. Proceed to make ice cream as per your ice cream maker’s instructions.
You will need a mould for your ice cream to create the shape of the bombe, something like a 16cm diameter pudding basin. Place this on the sponge cake and cut around it so you have a disc of cake the same size as the mould. Cut the remaining cake into chunks and soak them lightly in maraschino.
Pack the ice cream to line the mould, then push a small bowl into the centre of the ice cream—this will create a cavity. Return to the freezer to firm up.
Take the ice cream mould out of the freezer and remove the small bowl—this might stick. Stuff the cavity with the soaked pieces of cake, making sure it is filled up to the brim. Return to the freezer while you whisk up the meringue.
Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl—it helps to clean it first with some lemon juice, as any greasiness will ruin the meringue. Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until the mixture stands up in stiff peaks, then continue whisking while you add the sugar, 1 tsp at a time. Set aside.
Remove the ice cream mould from the freezer and dip it into warm water to loosen it up slightly. Place the disc of sponge cake on top of the mould, followed by a plate. Turn over carefully to unmould. Take it easy: it might pop out at once, or it might take a little while.
Use a palette knife or piping bag to spread or pipe the meringue over the pudding as neatly as you can manage. Toast the outside of the meringue using a kitchen blowtorch—if you have a salamander, you can use that instead. Be quick, as the pudding will melt very quickly as you brown the meringue. Serve at once.
ALTERNATIVE: For an alcohol-free option, dilute some orange flower water to replace the liqueur. if you don’t have an ice cream maker, take a look at my simple, hand-made version.
Recipe and image: Regula Ysewijn