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Ravneet Gill’s recipe for a Christmas baked alaska

·3 min read

A baked alaska feels really extravagant and full of effort. Truth is, though, it doesn’t have to be. A baked alaska is really adaptable to what you like, and can be assembled in advance, ready to whip out at the table, blowtorch and impress. Here, I’ve made a hazelnut sponge to complement shop-bought salted caramel ice-cream, but you can, of course, change that to suit your palate. Homemade ice-cream is even more impressive, but seriously, when it’s December and we’re all rushing around, I don’t think anyone will judge you for not making your own.

Baked alaska

Prep 45 min, plus freezing time
Cook 30 min
Serves 6

For the hazelnut sponge
100g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
100g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
60g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
60g roasted ground hazelnuts

For the swiss meringue
120g egg white
200g caster sugar
A handful of roasted hazelnuts
2 x tubs of your favourite ice-cream

Line the base of a 20cm sandwich tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix the eggs one at a time, making sure it’s well combined before adding the next. Combine the salt, flour, baking powder and ground hazelnuts in a small bowl, then add to the butter mixture and mix gently to combine. Scoop into the lined tin, level the top with the back of a spoon and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool fully.

Line a 12½cm-diameter bowl with greaseproof paper (or a few layers of clingfilm), leaving enough overhang to help you lift out the frozen ice-cream later. Push your chosen ice-cream into the lined bowl, then freeze solid.

Bring a large, deep pan filled halfway with water to a gentle simmer. Whisk the egg whites and sugar in a large bowl that will sit over, but not touch, the boiling water, then set the bowl over the simmering water and stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. (You can check by feeling the mixture between your fingers: it shouldn’t be at all grainy.)

Lift the bowl off the water pan and whisk on a medium speed until cool – the meringue mix should now be voluminous.

Trim the cooled sponge so it’s 17½cm in diameter with a flat top. Take the ice-cream out of the freezer and flip on to the sponge and pull off the wrapping. Spoon the meringue all over the ice-cream and sponge – it should be thick and full of peaks. Blowtorch immediately and serve garnished with the roasted hazelnuts, or freeze and blowtorch just before serving.

Fiona Beckett’s drinks match Ice-cream isn’t the easiest thing to pair with wine, though the meringue will mitigate its palate-numbing iciness. I’d be inclined to go for something sweet and strong, maybe served in shots. Picking up on the hazelnuts, that could be Frangelico (£15.95 Tanners, £19.50 Ocado, 20%), or one of the tawny ports mentioned in my column this week.

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