Saturday, 26 June 2010

Icy Cold Birthday Treat

I must be out of my mind when I decided that I should make a Baked Alaska just 3 days before my son's birthday. He had asked for fried ice cream as a birthday treat...right after reading one of those 'Horrible Science' series. He explained the 'science' behind why ice cream won't melt when it is deep fried...something to do with baking soda, which is added to the batter that is used to coat the ice cream before it is deep fried. As I don't do any deep frying at all, I told him I would make him a baked alaska. Instead of deep frying ice cream, I thought it would be easier for me to 'bake' it!


After spending the whole night searching the internet for tips and how-tos, I managed to make him this baked alaska just in time on his birthday!

It is not the most impressive cake I have made, with my lack of skills and experience, it was the best I could come up with, plus, it was the first ever baked alaska I have ever baked! After hearing how this delicious dessert is served at restaurants (btw, I have only tried it at the Shashlik restaurant), my boy was more than willing to set his cake on fire. However, I was against the idea, as some photos of flaming baked alaska I have seen on the internet got me really worried!


After hearing my concerns, my good-natured son was equally happy to simply light it with a candle.



If you were as clueless as me when it comes to making a baked alaska, this series of video clips over here will set you on the right track.

To make a baked alaska, you would need to prepare at least one day ahead. The ice cream and the cake base would have to be prepared in advance. In order to create two layers of ice cream, and to create a nice dome, the ice cream has to be molded into a bowl and left to freeze, best over night. After checking with the birthday boy, it was decided that the ice cream would sit on a layer of brownies instead of a sponge cake.

Making the ice cream and brownies layers was no sweat! The only thing I had no confidence was making the meringue. I tend to over-whip egg whites...and without exception, the same thing happened to me. I though I had beaten the egg whites to soft peaks, but no, that extra few seconds of whisking got it almost to the stiff peak stage. The next challenge was to cover the ice cream and cake base with the egg whites...this has to be done quickly before the ice cream starts to melt in the heat. I have to thank the heavy downpour that morning, as it was a cool late afternoon when I was ready to make the meringue. All went well except that my slightly over-whipped egg whites started to separate('weeping') when I tried to make decorative swirls and peaks with the back of a spoon. I had no luck in getting any nice tall peaks except for a few swirls and small 'hills'. It could also likely due to the method I have chosen to prepare the meringue. I opted for the easier way...beating egg whites with just sugar and some vanilla extract. I should have taken the trouble to make an Italian meringue (egg whites beaten with sugar syrup) just like the lemon meringue pie I made sometime back.

After I had given up hope with the swirling, I popped the entire cake back into the freezer again so that it would be ready for the grand finale that night.


The final step calls for baking the cake in a very very hot oven for 3 minutes or so. I cranked up my oven to 250degC and let it preheat for about 20mins. Just before sending this 'space-ball' into the hot oven, I dusted it with some icing sugar as suggested by some recipes I came across. Actually after baking, I realised this is quite redundant!

My earlier fear of ending up with a tray of melted ice cream was unfounded. My ice cream bombe was still intact, fresh out of the oven! The meringue was not evenly browned as my small oven burnt the top before the lower part had time to turn brown. I was left with no choice but to remove the cake from the oven as I didn't want to end up with a black bomb. I am sure a bigger oven or a blow touch will do a much better job.


Despite the burnt top, the ice cream inside remained frozen (this picture was taken more than 10mins after the cake was taken out of the oven)...


even the cake slicer got stuck when my child tried to cut it...I had to use my bread knife to cut into the cake ;)


Even though it sounds like a lot of work involved, breaking up the preparation into different stages make the whole process easier. As for the taste, if you like ice cream, brownies and marshmallowy meringue, I am sure you will enjoy this icy cold dessert. If the bombe were to be drenched with rum or brandy, and flambé, I bet the show and the extra alcohol will bring your taste palette to greater heights!


I can't believe the tremendous speed at which my child has grown...from a 3.6kg (almost 8 pounds) new-born baby to a 36kg, 12 year old boy! On this special day, I want to thank him for being our child.

Happy Birthday, my son, what a precious gift you are to us!

39 comments:

  1. Wow..very nice cake! Just coinccidently I made a cake which is alike yours (i mean the shape of the cake)..;D But your ice cream one is more tempting..heehee! Very Nice!

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  2. Happy Birthday to your son. This ice cream looks so good, I definitely would like to try it one day. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. A very happy birthday to your son. You did a great job.

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  4. Only time I tried Baked Alaska I ended up with a lot of melted ice cream. I want to try again, so thanks for the links to those videos.

    Also, I did my PhD on those Horrible Science books... glad to know my reading of baking blogs can sometimes loosely be connected to work :)

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  5. Happy Birthday to your son!
    Your cake is so cute! It reminds me of a snowball cupcakes. You're an amazing mom, taking so much time just to make a cake for your son. :)

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  6. Birthday greetings to your boy!! And what a cake it turned out to be. Looks like a BIG Success.
    I wish I was a s confident as you when it came to requests for such cakes, but I always go back to the safe and tested, and no failure guaranteed cakes that I know how to bake ... and they dont look good as birthday cakes. But tastewise, ok. I lack the necessary baking skills :( Congrats. You continue to inspire me.

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  7. Hi HHB, u did the baked alaska! this is the cake that I always wanna make after seeing from TV but didnt get a chance. The cake looks pretty although there are so charred area and yummy, thumbs up. Happy Birthday to your boy too!

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  8. Happy Birthday to your boy! Your bake Alaska is beautiful! I can imagine not being able to slice into the cake as I have the same experience with ice cream cakes too (store bought) Have not tried making ice cream cake yet...might try it since yours looks so nice!

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  9. Wowowowo.... I must say you are one big adventurer!! I would never think of making some LIKE THAT!!! Awesome work!!

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  10. They look great, especially the cross section inside, you're a great mum HHB! Did the meringue tasted raw or underbaked? I agree a blow torch would have been perfect! But yeah, investing in another gadget just to make Baked Alaska or Creme Brulee is ridiculous if you're not making them often!

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  11. Thanks everyone for your well wishes!

    ReeseKitchen, nah, the cake you baked for your hubby is stunning! I can't make those pretty swirls like what you did!

    Alice, wow, you did your PhD on the Horrible Science series! How cool! My son is a great fan of thie series of books, besides the Science series, he love the History and Geography series as well, and he is crazy over the Maths series. He learned algebra and probability from these books before the school teaches them!

    stay-at-home mum, no, not that I have lots of confidence and guts! My kids are very forgiving, so it is ok for me to try anything, even if it fails, they will still encourage me with very kind words ;)

    Hi Jess, do give it a try, it is actually quite a fun 'science experiement'!

    Bee Bee, we always have this fear that an ice cream cake will melt into puddles of cream in our weather...but actually it is not that bad especially when the ice cream is a well frozen solid ball, it is only after slicing, it gets melted away pretty fast.

    Hi Honey Boy, since it is 'my' child's birthday cake, I can afford to experiement it. My kids won't get upset even if I created a disaster ;p

    Hi Quinn, the top part of the meringue is well cooked, only the lowest part that was underbaked, I got my kids to scrape off those areas...and they went 'huh?!! it is so precious, why waste??', lolz!
    My kids would love to have a blow torch so that they can carry out science experiements at home! They equate it with bunsen burners...they saw one when we dined at this Manhattan Fishmarkert restaurant.

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  12. This cake is awesome! You did a great job! *^_^*

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  13. This is beautiful! Can't tell it's your maiden effort at all. The layers are lovely, bet it was delicious ;).

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  14. Happy birthday to your big boy! I'm sure it will be his most memorable birthday with this special Baked Alaska. The layers of ice cream and brownies look great!

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  15. I want a large slice! It looks very pretty and right for the summer birthday star!
    Happy Birthday to your boy!

    Angie

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  16. Despite all your fears, it turned out so well like you have been doing it umpteen times.:)

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  17. This is the first time I learned about Baked Alaska, you have made it a pro..:D

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  18. Looks sooooo yummy. The last time I had this was years ago.

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  19. When mummy is a good baker their children will tend to want their mum to bake or cook for them delicious food which they can name. This happened to my children too. Sometime I do think that they thought that we are a Magician cum Superwoman.

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  20. U are just too humble, this cake is super impresive.

    Happy belated birthday to your son.

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  21. Happy Belated Birthday to your boy!

    I'll hv the same fear as you if I were to attempt this cake. Well done!

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  22. Happy Belated Birthday to your boy!! I did this cake once, I just tried a small one, but it seem my kids don't really like that meringue..But yours look so nice, you are just a good mom.

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  23. First, Happy Belated Birthday to your boy. Then ... I really feel so embarassed. Everyone commented knew what this cake is and its the first time I see it .. how mountain tortoise. Its such a nice cake. How I wish I have such cakes for my birthday. Those selling in the shops are nothing compare to this .. I love this unique cake.

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  24. Happy Flour, I agree with you! My son has been asking me to make him tofu burger?!! I don't even know whether of its existence!

    Sonia, my kids like the meringue, to them, it was like eating 'clouds'! But my kids have strange taste buds...one loves bitter gourd, and the other enjoys stuffing his mouth with parsley, Chinese cilantro that are used for garnishing dishes, he says it helps to remove bad breath!

    Hi Sherlyn, I am a mountain tortoise too...a complete culinary idiot actually, there are so many types of food I do not even know of their existence ;)

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  25. HHB, this is also the first time I heard of something called / seen Baked Alaska.

    Thanks for sharing with us and it is really interesting to learn from you.

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  26. Oh wow! The cake looks awesome.

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  27. ahhhhhhhh..so sweet of u..happy bday to gods precious gift..ur son...lovely cake..u r tremendously creative....bravo.....look @ tht gorgeous cake...10 /10..looks bful....


    first time here...u have a lovely space...just started blogging..and love to add u in my list..
    ur comments/suggestions r highly appreciated..happy blogging...following u>>>>>>



    sanyuktagour(bayes)
    http://creativesanyukta.blogspot.com/

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  28. Not impressive? I thought it was awesome! Wish I could bake this for DD1's birthday next month. Fingers crossed.

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  29. You are really good with baking. This cake looks really really nice...yummy. Happy Belated Birthday to your son!

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  30. Awww ... This is a really touching post, especially the ending ... Thanks for sharing your joy of parenthood with us! I always love stopping by your blog to read. =D

    Hey, thanks a lot for the tips, sharing your experience with Baked Alaska! Thanks for the ideas and for inspiring me! I'm SO gonna try making Baked Alaska when my parents have gotten an extra and larger freezer and another oven! My family's gonna move soon. Hopefully, my routine won't be affected. I remember you telling that being just a day away from the cyber world indeed means you're WAY, WAY behind so many things because everyone seems to be moving so fast here!

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  31. Hi Pei Lin, yes, you need to make sure there is space in the freezer for this cake. My fridge is not that big, but I hardly freeze anything, so I had plenty of space for it. I understand the feeling of 'lost' when you first come back to the cyber world. Don't worry, you will catch up very soon :)

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  32. sorry, can you post the Baked Alaska recipe?
    how did you do the meringue? hahas. it look really nice. :)

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  33. Hi, I won't be able to post the recipe as I did not really do a good job whisking the egg whites, and I should have used another method to make the meringue.

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  34. it looks absolutely incredible!

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  35. the ice cream tend to sink to the bottom when i try to press it to the rim of the bowl =( any suggestion?

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  36. Hi, I am sorry, I don't quite understand what you meant? Was is because the ice cream was too soft??

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  37. Hi! Your bcaked alaska looks amazing! May I know which brand of ice cream you used for this cake?

    Joo

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  38. Hi Joo, I can't remembe the exact brand, it is either Marigold or Walls ice cream...cheap brands ;)

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  39. Marigold or Walls! Okie,thanks!-Joo

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