I am not sure why, but for the last month or so I have had an obsession with Baked Alaska. I was tempted to try making it around election night (seemed appropriately Palin-esque, but I didn’t have time). I think I might have had Baked Alaska once as a child, but I can’t remember if I actually did, or just I imagined it. I have think I have always been fascinated by the idea of putting ice cream in the oven.
I decided to try making a pumpkin Baked Alaska for thanksgiving. It seemed a sufficient occasion for such a labor intensive project and combines my love of pumpkin with my latest brain-child. I did a lot of research online and borrowed ideas from several different recipes.
Here are the main steps:
Bake a sheet cake. In this case pumpkin, but traditionally just a plain vanilla cake. Recipe is below.
Soften your ice cream and mould it into a saran-wrap lined bowl. I used two pints of Jeni’s ice cream. Pumpkin mascapone and Ugandan vanilla, hence the two layers you can see.
Cut a circle of the cake to fit on the bowl and then freeze both together. Eat the rest of the cake or give it to friends. Remove the bowl and saran-wrap.
Make your meringue (I used 6 egg whites, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and a splash of vanilla) and then pipe it around the ice cream, making sure that there are no gaps. I used sifted light brown sugar. I don’t think that my egg whites were quite stiff enough, hence the sploggy-ness of the meringue, but it seemed to work. I also don’t think the piping is essential, although it does increase the surface area.
Freeze the whole thing, for at least a few hours, ideally over-night. Now you are starting to see why it is labor intensive. This thing requires starting a couple of days ahead of time!
Bake in a 450ºF oven for approximately 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown. A lot of the recipes use a blow torch instead of putting it in the oven.
Serve to appreciative guests. The pumpkin cake looks kind of dry in the photo, but only because it is frozen. It was actually very moist and a big hit, with everyone I gave slices to. It made a 9×13 inch pan, which was much more than I needed for the Baked Alaska. It is also very easy – one bowl, one pan, one spoon.
1 cup oil
1 14oz can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp spices (pumpkin pie, cloves, cinnamon, ginger)
1/2 tsp salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Mix the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl and then add the flour, spices, soda and salt. Ideally you should sift them in, but it isn’t essential. Bake for approximately 30 minutes depending on your oven. Check that a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.