Each week Julia Bryce uncovers previously popular dishes in our Throwback Thursday series and offers both a classic recipe and a modern twist.
Omlette norvegienne, omelette surprise, Norwegian omelette or omelette siberienne. However you refer to it across the globe, Baked Alaska is a household name almost everyone will know.
A dessert consisting of ice cream, cake, and browned meringue, it’s the flashy toasting flambe experience (which can sometimes result in it catching on fire) that completes this 1950s dinner party staple.
Invented in 1867 by American chef Charles Ranhofer – one of the country’s first celebrity chefs who worked at the famous Delmonico’s restaurant in New York – he created the cake to celebrate the United States’ purchase of Alaska from the Russians.
Initially it was known as the Alaska-Florida Cake, however it was soon after changed to what it is most commonly known today as Baked Alaska.
During the height of at-home entertaining in the 1950s and 60s, ice cream pies were very popular, and the Baked Alaska was a more extravagant version.
A labour of love, the dessert requires few ingredients, but plenty of patience.
Made by lining a pie dish with ice cream and sponge cake, and then topping it with meringue which is then toasted, the indulgent dish is a showstopper.
When baking in the oven, the meringue acts as an insulator, ensuring the ice cream doesn’t melt – genius.
Easy Baked Alaska
For the ice cream:
- 250g chocolate ice cream
- 850g strawberry ice cream
For the base:
- 1 box brownie or sponge cake mixture – and the ingredients needed to make it
For the meringue topping:
- 3 egg whites
- 175g caster sugar
- Line a large cooking bowl with cling film.
- Add a layer of strawberry ice cream into it and then add the chocolate ice cream. Cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the freezer.
- Bake the brownie/sponge cake in the oven in a round cake pan with the same circumference as the large cooking bowl the ice cream is in. Once baked, leave to cool.
- Remove ice cream from freezer and place the brownie/sponge cake bake on top of it.
- Cover it with cling film again and return to freezer for at least one hour, or until you are ready to serve it.
- To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites – it is best to use an electric mixer for this – and add the sugar in slowly, and a little at a time. Whisk well until the meringue mixture is very stiff and glossy.
- Take the ice cream out of the freezer and remove from the bowl. Place it on a plate and cover it completely with the meringue. Finish it off my adding the swirl effect onto it – you can do this by using a spoon.
- When ready, place under the grill for a few minutes, or you can brown the meringue with a kitchen blow torch if you have one.
(You can also put the cake with the meringue on it back into the freezer for a while and instead, bake it in the oven at 200°C for 6-8 minutes if you prefer to bake it in the oven).
Recipes with a twist
Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake
- Chocolate ice cream
- Vanilla ice cream
- Blueberries, to garnish
For the blackcurrant ice cream:
- 425g fresh blackcurrants
- 165g sugar
- 275ml double cream
- Mash the blackcurrants with a wooden spoon through a sieve over a mixing bowl.
- Once completely mashed, put the sugar and 150ml of water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, boil for a few minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add in the blackcurrants.
- Whip in the cream, ensuring it doesn’t get stiff.
- Add the cream into the mixture and combine. Place into a rectangular dish and place in the freezer.
- Once set, remove from the dish.
- Take the chocolate ice cream and scoop into the dish, forming the chocolate layer. Pat down with the back of a wooden spoon to smooth it.
- On top, layer the homemade blackcurrant ice cream and then the vanilla ice cream on top. Each layer should be equal. Pat down to smooth it off.
- Put in the freezer for a few hours to combine together.
- When ready to serve, remove and cut into slices.
Ice cream sandwich
- Tub of ice cream (your favourite flavour, or a mix of flavours if you want a few)
- A pack of large cookies (you can always use our honeycomb and white chocolate cookie recipe)
- A few handfuls of sprinkles
- Take a few scoops of your favourite ice cream and place them on top of a cookie.
- Take another cookie and place it on top of the ice cream pile, smooshing it together so it holds well.
- Pour sprinkles into a bowl or onto a plate and roll the outside of the ice cream sandwich until the exposed ice cream is covered in sprinkles and enjoy!