I spend quite some time reading through food magazines and journals - always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes. I am lucky enough however, to work with some fantastically talented chefs, each of which have at least a few wonderful recipes up their sleeves that they have made for years and perfected over time. These people would be without doubt my greatest source of recipes and inspiration.

Lizzie is a fabulous chef I have had the pleasure of working with over the last year and this is her creation, which she has kindly allowed me to share. Sadly she has left us to pursue bigger and better things, but her legacy lives on with this dessert that is still on our sweet menu.

I am totally addicted to this gateau, and so are many of our diners. It does, I will admit, sound a little weird at first - bread ice cream? The bread comes in the form of regular commercial pre-sliced brown bread. It is whizzed into breadcrumbs with soft brown sugar, before being toasted in the oven until it is crunchy and sweetly delicious. These crumbs are churned at the last minute into golden syrup ice cream so they highlight the daunting sweetness with a sensational crunch. It doesn't end there.

The ice cream is then layered, either in a spring form cake ring, or a terrine mold, with slices of crisp meringue intersecting the layers, while the outside of the mold is lined with a micro-thin layer of softly whipped cream, which once frozen provides another textural dimension. All up, this gateau is a visual and scrumptious wonder.

Here comes the bad news - this baby ain't so easy to make. You will need an ice cream churner and a terrine or spring form cake tin - as well as a fair amount of time and patience. That said, it is definitely not un-achievable for the keen home cook. The meringue and sweet breadcrumbs can be made well in advance - up to a fortnight. Once these are done, the custard, churning and layering should take you under 2 hours, leaving with a gasp-inducing dessert that will serve 12 grateful diners.

Keen? Here is the skinny.

Ingredients

Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • 150 gm (5 oz) caster sugar
  • Breadcrumbs

  • 200 gm (7 oz) stale brown bread slices, crusts removed
  • 200 gm soft brown sugar
  • Ice cream

  • 7 egg yolks
  • 350 ml milk
  • 350 ml pouring cream (35% butterfat)
  • 100 gm (3 1/2 oz) golden syrup
  • Cream coating

  • 100 ml whipping cream (35% butterfat)
  • 2 Tbs icing sugar
  • Method

    Start with the meringue. Place the whites in a mix master and beat until they form soft peaks. Still beating, add half the sugar and continue beating until you have reached stiff peaks, and the whites look glossy. Add the remaining sugar and beat for 3 minutes.

    Pre-heat your oven to 120° C (250° F). Depending on the mold you have chosen - a round cake tin, or rectangular terrine, this will determine the shape to cook your meringues in. Lay out a large sheet of non-stick baking paper and trace a line around the base of your mold - circular for the cake tin or rectangular for the terrine. The cake tin should be 22 cm in diameter, and the terrine should be roughly 30 cm X 8 cm X 8 cm. Don't worry if they are a little larger or smaller - It all should still work out. Place the egg whites into a piping bag and pipe a thin (1 cm) layer of meringue to fit the shapes you have traced - you will need 2 identical shapes. Place the meringues into the oven and cook for 1 hour, or until they are crunchy and brittle. Turn of the oven, and allow the meringues to cool in the oven.

    For the breadcrumbs, place the bread and sugar into a food processor and whiz until the bread is finely chopped up. Scatter onto a larger baking sheet - in a single thin layer, then place into the oven - turned up to 160° C (325° F). Cook until they are golden and crunchy, around 20 - 30 minutes.

    Line the base and sides of the mold with kitchen foil; making sure that the foil is tight and flush with the sides. Place the cream and icing sugar for the cream coating into a mix master and beat to soft peaks. Using a rubber kitchen spatula, carefully paint a thin layer of whipped cream onto the base and sides of the mold. Aim for around 2 - 3 millimetres. Place the lined mold and allow the cream to set for at least an hour. All of the above steps can be done well in advance.

    For the ice cream, place the cream and milk into a small saucepan and bring gently to the simmer. In a large bowl, beat together the yolks and caster sugar. Once the cream has reached simmering point, pour directly onto the yolks and immediately whisk well to combine. Return this mixture to the rinsed out saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir the custard constantly until it thickens and coats the spoon. Remove from the heat and add the golden syrup. Stir well and allow to cool. Add the cooled custard to your ice cream machine and churn until it is just set, then add the breadcrumbs. Churn for a few minutes more to incorporate the breadcrumbs.

    To assemble the gateau, spoon 1/3 of the ice cream onto the base of the mould and smooth out the surface. Top with 1 sheet of meringue, then spoon over another third of the ice cream, once again smoothing the surface. Top with the remaining ice cream and wrap the gateau tightly with cling film. Place in the freezer and allow to set for at least 12 hours. The gateau can be left in the freezer now for at least 6 weeks. Here is a cross section of how it should look in a rectangular terrine.

    
    


    | | | | | | ←----|-|----- Ice cream | | | | | |----------------------| | | |----------------------| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |--------------------←|-|----- Meringue layer | |----------------------| | | | | | | | | | | |______________________| | |__________________________|←---- Whipped cream


    To serve, remove the gateau from the freezer, and if using a round spring form cake tin, simply de-clasp the ring, remove the tin foil and cut into cake size wedges. If you are using a terrine, allow it to sit out of the freezer for 5 minutes to allow the sides to soften a little. Using a small knife, cut around the inside of the terrine, and gently tap the gateau out of the mold. Remove the foil then slice into wedges.

    This striking dessert needs little accompaniment. If it is summer, a few berries would be fantastic, or else perhaps drizzle around a little orange syrup.

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