A month ago I got an ice cream machine. I’d been fancying making ice cream again for a while, and the growing number of lovely fresh eggs from our allotment hens inspired me to keep an eye open for an ice cream maker. This time, though, I wanted a machine with a built-in freezer, not one where you have to find freezer space for a bulky ice bucket.
Then this Gaggia Gelatiera came up on eBay:
It’s in lovely condition, and it was one of my shortlisted machines, along with the similar Magimix and Cuisinart. There are lots of self-contained domestic ice cream machines, but these three seem to have the best spares availability, and all have a good reputation.
It’s dead easy to use. There are only two buttons, and a timer. The bowl with its paddle goes into the freezer compartment and you press the first button to chill it for a few minutes. Then the cold mixture is poured in. You set the timer, typically for half an hour, put on the lid, and press the second button to start the paddles. And that’s it.
And the vodka? Well, you need some “alimentary alcohol” to transmit the heat from the bowl to the freezer walls. Smirnoff was on offer, and works perfectly. A litre will last for many batches of ice cream!
Whatever you do in the kitchen, you need a book. Or three.
David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, which is undoubtedly the best of the three. He tells you the theory of constructing ice cream as well as sorbets, granitas and other cold sweet delights. And the recipes are spot on. It’s the sort of book to inspire you to try each and every recipe.
Lola’s Ice Creams and Sundaes by Morfudd Richards, which is nearly as good as David Lebovitz’s book, but perhaps not quite as inspirational. But it does have a section on savoury ice creams that complements The Perfect Scoop.
Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream Book, which many people rave about, but I’m afraid isn’t for me. It’s a very entertaining read, but I should have thought before I bought it that we don’t really like “Chunky Monkey” or “Cookie Dough” ice cream. But if you like Ben & Jerry’s ices, then this would be the book for you.
We started with coffee ice cream, then strawberry, vanilla, and lemon sorbet. All successful, although I discovered that strawberry ice cream based on an egg custard doesn’t taste as zingingly of fresh fruit as one without eggs.
So now we have enough confidence to branch out a little. The last two efforts have been Pear and Pecorino ice cream and Mango Sorbet.
The Pear and Pecorino recipe is courtesy of David Lebovitz, and is, I think, the nicest ice cream that I’ve ever eaten. It combines an egg yolk and cream custard with sour cream, pear puree, and tiny dice of pecorino (or any similar hard sheep’s milk cheese). The combination of the rich ice cream base, the sour taste of the sour cream, the fruity sweetness and slight grittiness of the pears, and the bits of salty cheese is quite wonderful.
Lola’s inspired the sorbet. I adapted it slightly to use tinned mango pulp, but I think if anything that makes it even more intense a flavour. It’s delicious and refreshing in a way that the richer ice cream can’t be.
Here they are:
The machine has been put away for the moment. But tubs of ice cream make very acceptable gifts, so I’ll soon have the excuse to replenish our dwindling stocks. We’ve bought some delicious pears from the Blackmoor Apple Day, so some of those are earmarked for puree for ice cream …