Baked Alaska: Recipe and history
In 1867, ownership of Alaska was transferred from Russia to the United States. Delmonico’s restaurants celebrated the fact with the invention of a special dessert created by chef Charles Ranhofer.
You can imagine how these Victorian-era guests were delighted. The dish, named Baked Alaska, consisted of a beautifully light cake covered in delicious meringue.
Inside the straight-from the oven-cake was cold ice cream, suggesting the frozen wastes of the newly-acquired land.
One of the wonderful things about this dish is that you can vary the kind of ice cream you use. You can use commercial ice cream or, if you wish, make your own. The same applies to the sponge cake. Use a mix, buy a sponge or make your own from your favourite recipe – or use the one below.
Serves: 8 portions
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 quart ice cream
- 6 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Grease a round cake tin (about 8"). Beat the 2 whole eggs until fluffy.
- Add the sugar and salt gradually, beating constantly.
- Sift the flour and cornstarch over and fold in.
- Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake at 325 degrees for twenty five minutes.
- Remove from the pan.
- Press in ice cream into around-bottomed bowl and put in the freezer until solid.
- Beat the eggwhites to a foam and add the cream of tartar and salt.
- Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture forms peaks.
- Place the cake base on a baking sheet.
- Turn out the frozen mound of ice cream onto the centre.
- Spread the meringue over the edge of the cake and then cover the ice cream.
- Bake immediately in a 450 degree oven for about five minutes.
- The meringue should be turning brown.
- Serve at once.
For an even more special treat, serve with my favourite ice cream sauce on the side – warmed Bailey’s Irish Cream.
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