Tuesday, August 07, 2007
K is guest-blogging about Heston Blumenthal's perfect ice cream
There is obviously a good reason for stepping up as a first guest blogger: current recipe is inspired of In Search of Perfection by Heston Blumenthal, a challenging macho cookbook waiting for the boys’ egos to be satisfied. Browsing through the 20-plus step recipes Pille decided that it is not her style. Therefore it takes a guest blogger for Blumenthal to be featured here on Nami-Nami.
I noticed Jersey milk ice cream recipe in the book right away as it included dry ice as a freezing component (see here; note step 2 of the recipe: 'Put on safety gloves and protective goggles and open the packet of dry ice':). Carbon dioxide ice at -78.5 C is a familiar substance to me from constructing a cloud chamber for tracking cosmic particles, a well-known experiment in particle physics. Dry ice is mainly of industrial use and it can be bought only during working hours and from the industrial gas company situated far outside the city. While I was waiting for a moment to go and fetch it, our KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment had finally arrived from Germany. Although using dry ice would have lead to dramatic photos of the mystical fumes sneaking out of the bowl, it seemed quite pointless to overcomplicate things.
Eliminating dry ice lead to an unexpected realisation: with just four components - milk, double cream, unrefined caster sugar and glucose syrup - to be heated gently until the sugar has dissolved, this is one of the simplest ice cream recipes one can possibly find.
Blumenthal’s book has a pleasant feature: thorough stories about finding the best ingredients, the essential part of a quest for perfection. For example ice cream recipe requires milk with fat content 5.2% from organic free-range Jersey cows. I have nice memories of cycling on a sunny autumn day through green pastures on Jersey Island few years ago and participating in a staring contest with a genuine free-range Jersey cow, but I also remember that it took me a multi-stop air travel and a whole day to get there. Besides Estonians do not use double cream with fat content 48%, we have whipping cream (fat content 35% - 38%) instead.
Therefore following Blumenthal’s footsteps, without compromising his perfectionism, called for creativity. I calculated that an average fat content of a milk/double cream mixture in the recipe was 21.2% and for the whole recipe 17.3%. (For the sake of comparison David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream that Pille prepared a day before had 25.2% fat content for the dairy component plus 5 high-calorie egg yolks making an average fat content of a mix 21.4%). Using premium 3.5% milk and 35% whipping cream in 50/50 mixture I ended up with 19.2% fat for a dairy component and overall fat content 15.7%. That falls neatly in the middle of the range of 10-20% fat content, that according to Harold McGee is characteristic to most good ice cream recipes.
Glucose syrup is needed in the mix to give ice cream smooth, creamy consistency without the presence of yolks or high fat content.
After standard procedure with the ice cream maker, the end result was with smooth texture and notably milky, clean and fresh taste. I was resisting temptation to add a spoonful of Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extractor to throw in pieces of quality chocolate or to pour over some maple syrup. The recipe just seemed too simple. I closed my eyes and brought back childhood memories of a simple milk ice cream called Plombiir. In 1980s we had Soviet Union, iron curtain and stagnation and the producers did not yet know the virtues of artificial ingredients and milk & skimmed milk powders.
Blumenthal writes in his book: 'Perfection is the ultimate, the best something can possibly be. For many of us, the perfect meal won’t be some fancy restaurant food. Stuck on a desert island, our dream dish is more likely something we grew up with and have taken to our hearts.'
Apparently molecular-gastronomic image does not tell all about the chef of The Fat Duck.
For the Jersey milk ice cream
500ml Jersey whole milk
300ml double cream
80g unrefined caster sugar
100g glucose syrup
400ml 3,5% Alma piima
400ml 35% Alma vahukoort
80g demerara suhkrut
Segada ained kergelt kuumutades kuni suhkur on sulanud, jahuta. Jäätisemasinas segada madalal kiirusel kuni segu omandab pehme jäätise struktuuri. Jätta segu tahenema sügavkülmikusse.