Looking for a dessert that will impress? Look no further than The Ivy’s Baked Alaska.
This is as much a part of The Ivy as the stained-glass windows. We have been doing this for years, and it remains unchanged for the most part – it is a winning combination of flavours and textures, and it offers a wonderful bit of drama at the table when it’s set alight. Make this for a really special occasion; we guarantee nobody will forget in a hurry!
- 1 x quantity vanilla ice-cream
- 3 Tbsp kirsch
For the cherry sorbet:
(makes around 1 litre / 1¾ pints)
- 500g (2lb 2oz) fresh cherries, pitted (use frozen if out of season)
- 150g (¾ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
For the sponge cake:
- 4 medium eggs
- 100g (½ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
- 100g (¾ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- butter, for greasing
For the cherry compote:
- 200g (7oz) Griotte cherries
- 50g (¼ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
- squeeze of lemon
- 2 medium egg whites
- 75g (6 Tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
You will also need:
- ice-cream machine
- 38 x 25cm (15 x 10in) Swiss roll tin (jelly roll pan)
- 1.5 – 2litres (2½ – 3½ pint) pudding basin (ovenproof bowl) or loaf tin
Start the ice cream and sorbet the day before you plan to serve.
The Ivy Vanilla Ice Cream
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl until they have doubled in size and become pale and light. Pour the milk and cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the scraped vanilla pod (bean) and seeds and bring slowly to the boil.
- Remove from the heat and pour onto the egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (strainer) into a clean bowl, then leave until cold.
- Chill thoroughly in the fridge, at least 2 hours, before churning in an ice-cream machine. Scoop into a plastic freezerproof container and freeze until needed.
The Cherry Sorbet
- Place the cherries and sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add 250ml (1 cup) water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until the cherries are soft and the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat, leave to cool, then blend until smooth using a blender.
- Pass through a sieve (strainer) into a bowl, cover and chill thoroughly in the fridge (at least 2 hours) before churning in an ice-cream machine. Spoon into a plastic freezer proof container and freeze until needed.
The Baked Alaska
- Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350°F.
- For the sponge cake, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and light and doubled in volume. Sift the flour into the bowl and gently fold into the eggs using a large metal spoon, taking care not to deflate the mixture. Spread evenly into the Swiss roll tin (jelly roll pan) that has been greased and lined with a sheet of buttered baking parchment. Bake in the hot oven for 6–8 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- For the cherry compote, place the cherries, sugar, lemon juice and 3Tbsp water into a saucepan and warm gently until the cherries become soft and syrupy. This won’t take more than 10 minutes.
- To assemble, remove the cherry sorbet from the freezer 20 minutes before use to soften slightly.
- Line the inside of the pudding basin (ovenproof bowl) or loaf tin with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and cut the cake to fit inside the bowl or tin, ensuring that there are no gaps. Reserve some cake to cover the top. Spoon the cherry sorbet into the bowl to fill halfway up, spread level and place in the freezer until hard. You may not need all of the sorbet, so save any leftover for another day.
- Next, soften the ice cream slightly and spoon into the mould on top of the cherry sorbet, filling the mould up to the top. Again you may not need all the ice cream. Cover with the reserved cake and return to the freezer to set for at least an hour.
- When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200oC / 400°F and start to make the meringue. In a bowl or an electric stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff white peaks.
- Remove the basin from the freezer, turn out onto a baking sheet that has been lined with greaseproof paper and remove the clingfilm. Using a palette knife and working quickly, spread the meringue evenly over the cake. Bake in the hot oven for 3–4 minutes until golden brown (it may take less time – you need to keep your eye on it). While the meringue is cooking heat the kirsch gently in a saucepan.
- Working quickly, slide the baked Alaska onto a serving plate, then once at the table pour the warm kirsch over the top and set alight with a match, taking great care. Once the alcohol has burned off, spoon over the cherry compote and serve immediately.
Note: You can use good-quality ready-made vanilla ice cream and cherry sorbet if you don’t have time to make them or, indeed, the right equipment.
From 31st January, The Ivy will launch ‘Late Night at The Ivy’, a series of free events providing entertainment for those with table reservations after 10pm.