Retro Recipes, Vintage Recipes

Camera-Ready Baked Alaska

 

I make the iconic 1960s dessert, baked Alaska, a lot during the Spring and Summer months. I did feature a baked Alaska recipe on here a while back but haven’t, as yet, photographed my efforts. If you have ever made a baked Alaska, you will know that it is really quite easy to assemble BUT everything can go horribly wrong during the cooking process, particularly if you don’t cover your cake/ice-cream structure completely. A baked Alaska also needs to be eaten as soon as it comes out of the oven. Hence, stopping at each stage to photograph method etc is not really practical.

However, a while back, my friend and broadcaster, Shan Robins, wanted to make a few retro food inspired films with me for That’s Solent TV. I decided to ‘grasp the nettle’ and have a go at cooking baked Alaska, on-camera, from scratch. It also happened to be the hottest day of 2015. But, Shan and I are never afraid of a challenge.

It was also the same day ALL of my beef aspics collapsed one hour before filming was due to start. Each aspic contained hand-carved flowers made out of carrots which I had sat-up until midnight making. Suffice to say, I uttered a few choice expletives, felt the tears well-up then burst-out laughing when I asked myself, ‘what would Fanny Cradock do?’ The answer to that is probably, ‘beat Johnnie with a rolling pin!’. However, if you are going to cook on camera, you do need to just ‘roll with the punches’.

Have you ever worked with meringue on a really hot day in a sweltering kitchen? Mmmm, not one of my finer on-screen moments. The meringue struggles to reach the ‘soft peak’ stage and doesn’t hold its shape too well when you try and cover the cake and ice-cream structure. As you can see from the photographs above, the surface of my baked Alaska is much smoother than it should be.

I put my baked Alaska film right up there with another media appearance on a certain ITV food series discussing Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, flicking through the index, I declared to the crew, ‘Oh look, syllabub is next to syphilis’. Unbeknown to me the cameras were rolling and needless to say it made the final edit. Whoops!

I digress, back to my baked Alaska film. The recipe I used on this occasion was for ‘Strawberry baked Alaska’ from Meals For Every Occasion published by Hamlyn, a 1979 edition. However, I decided to substitute peaches for the strawberries. Below is the original recipe I used:

A magical combination of cold ice-cream and hot meringue, strawberry baked Alaska is an appealing dessert – especially when the ice-cream and the sponge flan base are home-made. But, if you are short of time, buy a ready-made sponge flan case and the ice-cream, choosing one with plenty of luscious pieces of fruit in it.

The secrets of success with this dessert lie in using really well frozen ice-cream and in careful and accurate covering with the meringue. If even a tiny amount of ice-cream is exposed when the Alaska goes into the oven, the whole thing will melt and be spoiled. Baked Alaska must be cooked for exactly the right length of time and served immediately or the ice-cream will melt. (Meals For Every Occasion, ed.1979, p.26)

Ingredients: (Serves 6), 25cm sponge flan case; 350g fresh strawberries; 15ml sherry (optional); 4 egg whites; pinch of salt; 225g caster sugar; 550ml strawberry ice-cream

Method:

  1. Place the flan case on an oven-proof serving plate. Sprinkle with sherry if used;
  2. Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. Place on the flan case;
  3. Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 7);
  4. Place the egg whites in a large, clean, grease-free and cool bowl. Add a pinch of salt and stir once;
  5. Using a balloon whisk [or an electric hand mixer], whisk the egg whites until they will stand in soft peaks;
  6. Gradually whisk in one-quarter of the sugar. Fold in the remainder gradually, using a metal spoon;
  7. Slice the ice-cream and arrange in a dome shape over the strawberries. Spread with meringue, covering all the ice-cream and the sides of the flan case. Be sure that no flan case or ice-cream is exposed;
  8. Place in the centre of the oven for 4 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

 

2 thoughts on “Camera-Ready Baked Alaska”

  1. Been a long time since I have eaten this.But I remember it being very ‘Yummy’! Thanks for yet another very interesting blog.

    1. Thank you David for your kind comments. I have such a backlog of pics, recipes etc but typing like mad to get them all out as soon as possible. I love baked Alaska, such a simple and fun dessert to do. Kind regards Emma.

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