Ice cream in the oven? For most dessert fans that sounds like a total recipe for disaster. However those who’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a portion of ‘Baked Alaska’ will know that it’s not as chaotic and idea as it sounds. The dish itself consists of ice cream, in a sponge-lined pie dish and topped with a generous layer of meringue. The tricky part (as if perfect meringues weren’t hard enough) is putting the whole thing in a piping hot oven for a brief period of time until the meringue browns. Timing, as you can probably imagine, is everything here.
Why doesn’t the ice cream melt?
Interestingly, the top layer of meringue saves the day here. Full of air from the whipping stage, the meringue acts as a sort of insulation. That means that when the dish is put in the oven to caramelise the topping, the heat of the oven can’t reach the ice cream at its centre. Clever, eh?
Where did it come from?
There’s no single confirmed story about the origin of the Baked Alaska, however the main one seems to credit a New Orleans restaurant called ‘Antoine’s’ for its creation. At the time the USA had just bought their 49th state, Alaska, from Russia for the princely sum of $7.2m (although that was 1867 prices!) Legend has it that the house chef created the Baked Alaska in celebration of this acquisition. It has had some other names in it’s time though; the Norwegian omlette’ for one and ‘Alaska Florida’ as well.
Bake your own
Our very own kitchen queen Jean Graham, has a fantastic Baked Alaska recipe that you’ll find on our site. It recommends four large scoops of Graham’s Traditional Vanilla ice cream (we’d suggest allowing for a ‘taster’ spoonful too). It’s definitely one that takes a bit of practice, but is sure to impress once mastered!
Or maybe you’ve tried your hand at one already and fancy sharing your efforts? Don’t be shy! Just head over to one of our social channels to give us a look.