Lessons I’ve learned thus far in my quarter of a century existence on this earth:
1. Double knotting sneakers can never be a bad thing.
2. Facial moisterizer is necessary after I wash my face or I dry up and it’s not attractive.
3. People have a funny way of surprising you (this can be good or bad but there are lots of surprises either way).
4. Coffee is not actually essential to my being though I enjoy it.
5. Ice cream cakes are best made in a pan with four tall sides for ease of transport and the least amount of messy.
Yup. That’s it. Five things. That’s one thing for every five years I’ve been alive. But the quantity isn’t what matters, it’s the quality, and friends, that’s some quality lessons learned up there. Let’s talk about the last one, shall we?
Several weeks ago we went out for a going away party for a friend (she just left for Korea for a month). While she was out of earshot, her boyfriend said that he thought she snuck a cake into their car because she’d be out of town for his birthday. He then remarked that out of all the years they’d been together she’d never gotten him the cake he truly wanted. My ears perked up. Cake? I’m in!
Turns out all he wanted was an ice cream cake. And that’s what he was going to get.
The first birthday cake I made for my group of friends was actually for Boy. He too wanted an ice cream cake but only told me this on the day of his celebration which led to a lot of scrambling around. Needless to say, the cake was improperly frozen and proceeded to melt all over me as we tried to transport it from my freezer to the restaurant. There was toilet paper involved. Don’t ask.
The second ice cream cake I made the next year was for Boy’s roommate. I discovered the joys of building the cake in a disposable pan with tall sides so that if it began to melt it wouldn’t melt on me. Much better. However, I baked the cake in a separate pan and then transferred it which meant some holes and not the prettiest slices.
This time around, I think I finally perfected my ideal cake. I baked a bottom cake layer in the pan and simply built up the cake by adding homemade ice cream on top. It was a huge hit with the birthday boy, Boy himself, and all our friends and was much simpler than my previous versions. I may switch up the flavors but this will definitely be my method!
Note: If you’re looking to plan out your time, I suggest making the ice cream bases the night before and refrigerating overnight. The cake can also be made the day before if desired or the morning of. Make sure you freeze it for at least an hour before spreading ice cream on top. I then churned my middle layer (vanilla), immediately spread atop the cake, and froze for 20 minutes while my top layer (strawberry) churned. I didn’t wash my ice cream maker in between and went straight from flavor to flavor. You can spread this part over a few days if you like. I’m just insane.
Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours
Makes ~ 1 quart.
- 2 c whole milk
- 2 c heavy cream
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Bring milk and cream to boil in a heavy saucepan. Meanwhile whisk together yolks and sugar until slightly thickened. While whisking, drizzle 1/3 of the hot mixture into the eggs to temper. Pour the rest of the hot mixture in, whisk, and then transfer back into the pan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture is 170-180F or the custard coats the back of a spoon without running when you slide a finger through it. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until ready to churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
Strawberry Ice Cream
adapted from epicurious
Makes ~5 cups.
- 1 3/4 c heavy cream
- 3 3×1 inch strips of lemon zest
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 c sugar, divided
- 1 lb frozen strawberries (fresh if you can find really great ones), trimmed and quartered
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Combine cream, zest, and salt in a saucepan and heat until just to a boil. Remove from heat and discard zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and 1/2 c sugar until well combined. Add a small amount of the heavy cream to the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Then add the rest in, mix, and pour back into the saucepan. Turn the heat back on medium-low and whisk constantly as you heat the mixture to 170F. Be sure you do not exceed 180F. Pour through a sieve into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until cool.
Once cooled, puree strawberries with remaining 1/4 c sugar and lemon juice in a blender. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds. Mix into the cooled custard. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
adapted from Gale Gand
Makes 1 9×13″ cake.
- 1 1/2 c sugar
- 1 1/4 c + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 eggs*
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 c boiling water
*for the half egg, you can break the egg into a bowl, whisk, then measure out half of the mixture
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13″ cake pan and set aside.
Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl fitted with an electric mixer, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat on low for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, still mixing at low speed until just combined. Pour batter into the pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool and freeze at least 1 hour to firm up before assembly.
For Assembly: Ensure that the vanilla ice cream is soft before spreading by either spreading right after churning or letting the ice cream sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Spread vanilla ice cream onto the frozen chocolate cake. Freeze for 30 minutes while you churn or soften the strawberry layer. Spread strawberry ice cream and freeze at least 1 hour before serving. Decorate as desired.
I love ice cream cakes, don’t you?