Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Poor Man's Praline

Brown Bread Icecream. Ignore the frosty glass.

My mother in law, a remarkable baker, makes the most fantastic brown bread. It is dense and heavy, almost treacly in consistency, and makes the most amazing base for my ‘go-to’ starter for large groups: bread, dips and charcuterie. Not limited in its range, it is also perfect with paté, and elevates simple smoked salmon and crème fraiche to heavenly proportions. Her kitchen in Sligo is never without one of the rich nut-brown loaves perched on the kitchen bench with the whole family carving hunks of it to top with homemade blackcurrant jam or wedges of creamy butter.

I have made the bread a number of times, but it is never quite as good as when my mother in law makes it. Besides her baking prowess, the secret seems to be eating it a day after baking, though I have suspicions about the magical properties of her oven. I will pull out the recipe and post it soon. Today however, I am more concerned with using up the leftovers in fitting fashion. You can use any brown bread for this, the staler the better it seems. The idea of bread in icecream seems strange, but I was assured that it is a traditional Irish flavour. Any doubts I had were melted away by the results: praline like, managing creaminess and crunchy meltingness in perfect harmony. Happily it does not need an icecream maker, though a thermometre comes in handy. I would use half the bread called for in this recipe especially if using less dense bread. I felt the icecream to bread ratio a little too even.

Brown Bread Icecream
Inspired by Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking
4 organic egg yolks
110g sugar
200mL water
1.2 litres of softly whipped cream, measured after whipping
Seeds from one vanilla pod
350 g stale brown bread, torn into small chunks
150g demera sugar
150g soft down brown sugar

Place egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (reserve the egg whites for meringues) about four minutes.
Combine sugar with 200 mL of water in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil until it reaches the 'thread' stage (this is actually at 106-113 C). You will know it is at this stage because it will look thick and syrupy and when a metal spoon is dipped in it, the last drops of the syrup drift into thin threads.
Pour syrup in a steady stream, onto the egg yolks whisking all the time with a balloon whisk.
Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds and add them to the mixture.
Continue to whisk mixture until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse.
Fold in the cream to the mousse. Freeze for two hours.

In the meantime place bread onto a large tray. Sprinkle with sugar and place in a 230 C oven for 10-15 minutes. Stir every 4-5 minutes until the sugar caramelises and coats the bread.
Turn out onto a large plate to cool. Pulse into breadcrumbs, or as I did bash with a masher.

Remove 2 hour frozen mixture from freezer and fold breadcrumbs into mixture.
Return to freezer until fully frozen.


Kristin said...

I used to have an ice cream machine, but when we moved house 5 years ago it didn't fit into my new freezer. Needless to say, I'm thrilled that this recipe doesn't require one. I've had brown bread ice cream a few times and it's such a treat. I can't wait to try making it - even more than the lamingtons!

'NEEN at 9 BEAN ROW said...

Thanks Kristin.

I really don't love the idea of an icecream machine. I don't know why, but in my mind's eye I always see them stowed at the back of a cupboard next to gadgets sold on late night informercials! :)

I have a great chocolate icecream recipe (again no icecream maker required) that I will find for you.

Kristin said...

Did someone say chocolate ice cream? Yes, please! Thanks a mil!

bwhite said...

I've made Brown Bread and Guinness Ice Cream a few times. The addition of some boiled down beer adds a wonderful contrast to the sweet breadcrumbs and cream.

Roisin said...

I would like to apply for the position of Taste Tester Number 1... I can submit my resume with extensive experiences listed (including my recent devourement of your Easter egg)...


'NEEN at 9 BEAN ROW said...

Sounds great B. I would use 'cooking stout' (aka Guinness) for that ;)

Roisin, that's ok, saves you the postage.

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