Verity started school last week, and I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this school run business. Hectic mornings of last minute ironing, super-fast cereal consumption and lopsided ponytails. The mornings that I then don’t have to rush to work myself, I’ve found that I’ve been enjoying the calmer, quieter walk back home afterwards.
The bushes that line the long path that connects us to the school, are currently heavy with ripe blackberries, and I decided to take full advantage.
The second recipe for September’s Book Club is Blackberry Ice-Cream Cake from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II. A nice alternative use for my bounty that is more often destined for a pie.
The recipe has just a few, but really good, ingredients: Vanilla Ice Cream, Blackberries, Shortbread, Pistachios, Blackcurrants and a small amount of sugar.
Unfortunately I seemed to have missed the blackcurrant season, and had to source frozen. All I could find was a pack of frozen mixed berries, which I had to sort the blackcurrants from. This took some time. Who knew that blackcurrants and blueberries looked so similar when frozen?!
The blackcurrants were cooked over a low heat with a little sugar and water until the berries had started to burst, and then set aside to cool.
Shortbread and shelled pistachios were blitzed for a few seconds in the processor, until chopped, but not powdery.
I’d left two tubs of Haagen-Dazs Vanilla ice-cream out to soften a little, though maybe a bit too long. These were tipped into a bowl, stirred, and then mixed with the blackberries and the shortbread and pistachio crumb.
I’d lined a long narrow tin, not a loaf tin, but similar, with cling film. I spooned in a third of the mixture, trying to get it into the corners as much as possible, before pouring on half of the blackcurrant sauce in a thin layer. Another layer of ice-cream mixture, another of sauce and finally another ice cream layer finished it off. I folded over the clingfilm and placed it in the freezer to firm up.
When it was ready, I took it from the freezer and removed the ice-cream block from it’s tin. Removing the clingfilm though was much harder. I hadn’t managed to keep the clingfilm smooth in the tin before filling it, so it had frozen in creases into the edges of the ice-cream. When I tried to pull it off, I was leaving small pieces of plastic inside the cake. Hmm. As it started to soften, it was easier to get these last little bits out, but not without making a bit of a mess.
Sliced, the ice-cream cake looked stunning; pale milky ice-cream speckled with deep purple blackberries, bright green pistachios and rippled with the blackcurrant sauce. You could smell the rich, buttery shortbread even before tasting it.
The flavours of this were beautiful, but I wasn’t keen on the texture. No, that’s not right. The texture of the ice cream was ok, but it was so dense with other ingredients, that you really did have to eat it like a cake, rather than scooped into a cone, and I just found it, well, odd. Not for me this one. Much to the delight of Matt & Verity I’m sure, who will, without doubt, eat every last bit.