I got into a conversation with a friend who also likes to cook about our food phobias. One of hers if frying things. I have two: pie crust and yeast anything. Se was generally giving me credit for being able to make anything when an idea was launched for a mutual cooking challenge. It wasn’t a competition, but rather a moment to support the other in trying something new and challenging.
I’m not sure how it came to her, but she decided I should make a Baked Alaska. She was going to fry something like donuts or beignets or sopapillas. As our mutual March birthdays approached, the idea became to do it in the week in between and get together with our mutual friends for a mostly dessert dinner with a little something else.
I did a lot of internet searching for Baked Alaska ideas and inspiration. It seems like you can essentially do anything you want as long as you have a cake layer, 1-2 ice cream layers, and meringue of some kind on the outside. Traditionally it’s made in a curved metal bowl to make the dome shape, but I did see some that were made in bread pans. Given the packed nature of my freezer, I decided to do the bread pan for my first foray into B.A. territory.
Making a Baked Alaska could be considered hard if you make all of the discrete parts. I’ve seen some recipes where they make the ice cream but use a store-bought cake. I’ve seen some where it’s the opposite. Martha might be one of the few who makes all of the elements.
I had had a rough week and I don’t own an ice cream maker, so I opted to make my life a bit easier by buying ice cream. I don’t know what the classic flavors should be for the dessert, but in my head, it’s pistachio. Rather than do two flavors since my space in a bread pan is limited compared to the classic dome, I only bought one flavor: Umpqua (a local brand) pistachio almond ice cream.
This is an easy recipe but it does take time. For a party on Tuesday, I realized I needed to start my prep on Sunday.
I decided to bake the cake, but I did a “cheat” by using an online “mostly homemade” recipe. I had some sour cream I wanted to use up before it spoiled, so I made a sour cream white cake that starts with a basic box white cake mix and then gets made with the sour cream (1 cup), 3 eggs, vegetable oil (1/2 c.), and a bit of vanilla.
The recipe was made for a 9 x 12 pan, but I wanted just enough to fill about half of a bread pan after it baked (accounting for the amount it would rise while baking). I put a little under half in my bread pan and then put the rest into a 6-cupcake pan where the cupcakes are pretty large. I started baking for 20 minutes which was good for the cupcakes. The cake for my dessert took about 25 minutes, but it was all guessing at that point to make it work for my size pan. I let it cool in the pan 10 minutes and then released it and placed it on a rack to cook the rest of the way.
While it was baking, I had let the ice cream sit on the counter to soften. In a different bread pan, I spread two layers of cling wrap so I’d be able to pull the whole mess out of the pan easily when it was time. On to the wrap, I scooped in the pistachio ice cream. You fill and spread, trying to make it as smooth as possible and getting rid of any air gaps that might mess up your layer. I filled to the point where I guessed my cake might go, but I really had no idea so I was guessing. All of the recipes I saw encouraged you to put it in the freezer at least a couple of hours or overnight. I put it in the freezer overnight and put the cooling cake in a same place.
On Monday, I added the cake layer into the bread pan of frozen ice cream, pressing the cake down to hopefully “fuse” with the ice cream. I had incorrectly guessed but a small amount, but rather than cut the small bit off the bottom of the cake, I decided to instead just compress the whole thing gently. I then put a layer of foil over the bottom of the cake and put it on a tray upside down – ice cream now on top – to aid the compression and fusing of my two layers. Back in the freezer it went for Tuesday.
My friend got sick. Or was getting sick. She had texted me so I had some warning. I didn’t necessarily care that our challenge would have to be delayed, but I did want some friends around who would still eat this ice cream/cake concoction filling my freezer.
Using Martha’s lead, I was planning to make a recipe of swiss meringue as the coating for my baked alaska, but when my friend told me she wasn’t coming probably, I decided to instead just think ice cream cake and come up with a sauce. I had happened to catch an episode of “Martha Bakes” on PBS where she made a warm rum and raisin sauce. I figured that might be good with my simple cake and ice cream and I had just enough corn syrup to pull it off, so I headed to the kitchen to make that Monday night.
It’s super easy: equal parts (1/2 cup) brown sugar and corn syrup with equal parts (1/4 cup) dark raisins, light raisins, and rum. And a little butter (1 tablespoon) for richness and mouth feel. You only heat it a short time so I had it ready to go to just reheat when it came time to unveil and eat the dessert.
Everyone who was feeling well still came over for soup and “baked alaska.” I explained the challenges and how I decided to modify when I knew the challenge wasn’t going to happen as we had planned. My friends are game so they were up to try it, no matter what happened.
As the cake was first unveiled, it looks pretty wrinkled and unattractive. You can see why the impulse is to hide the surface in fluffy meringue.
Once cut in half, you could see how the slices themselves were actually quite pretty. So, armed with the sauce reheated gently, we set out to eat the ice cream cake.
It was delicious.
Toying with a new name for this creation, we thought about Baked Salem. Baked Oregon. But nothing got “baked” like the meringue in the classic. Finally Jeff hit on Oregon Drizzle. So, Oregon Drizzle it is, trademark Jeff B.