Friday, July 01, 2005

Of creams and vanilla

Vanilla Icecream
can you see those small black specks of vanilla beans?

The vanilla bean pods that I bought a month ago have been sitting in my fridge and I think I might have neglected the fact that their freshness might be compromised if I don't use it soon enough.

So I decided to make the classic vanilla ice-cream.

I didn't have an ice-cream maker so I did it by freezing it in the fridge and mixing it every hour, on the hour, for about 5 to 6 times.

One thing I've learnt is how delicate a process it is and the importance of the cream you use.

The recipe I used just stated 1 cup cream and didn't indicate which kind. So I bought fresh thickened cream a.k.a creme fraiche. I later found out that I should have perhaps bought heavy cream or whipping cream instead.

Gosh, with so many types of cream around, I got really confused. Actually the difference with these creams are their fat content.

But thanks to a culinary glossary i chanced upon, I finally realisedhow to differentiate the creams:

light cream contains approximately 20% butterfat
whipping (or heavy) cream ranges from 30-40%.
Half-and-half refers to a blend of milk and cream with a butterfat content of 10-12%.

and creme fraiche is cream that has been slightly soured with bacterial culture. and thanks to Wikipedia, I also found out that sour cream is "obtained by fermenting a regular cream by certain kinds of lactobacillus bacteria". Apparently, bacterial culture would react with the cream and produce lactic acid which in turn sours and thickens the cream. Creme fraiche is very similar to sour cream in terms of texture, only that creme fraiche doesn't curdle when boiled.

Phew.. that's a whole load of information on creams I know. But I had to get to the bottom of this 'cream' question that's been in my mind.

As for my vanilla ice-cream, I nearly screwed it up because I left my yolk& milk mixture on the stove for too long without stirring. I learnt my lesson well.

What happened to my mixture had me worried - there were little clumps of eggy stuff. I think the egg was actually starting to curdle. So from a lovely smooth mixture, I got something that had bits of white in it. I managed to fix it by sieving out the little clumps and thankfully it worked.

So I continued with freezing my cream and doing the mixing every hour. It was quite a tedious process that made me wish I had an ice-cream maker.

The result of my ice-cream wasn't what I had intended - it was a little icy and not very smooth. But then again, I did it by hand, so I can't be looking for pristine results. I think I would have had better results had I used whipping cream. Taste-wise, it was creamy and I could taste the wonderful vanilla.

I wouldn't mind making more next time and yes, I'll definitely make sure I follow the steps properly. And maybe, I should get an ice-cream maker, when I have saved enough moo-lah. Yet another 'want' to add to my culinary product wish list. It'll be a long time before I get my own KitchenAid... but well at least I can dream about it for now. Have to get a bigger muffin pan and find some ramekins! And hmmm i'm wondering if they sell those lovely Microplane graters here?


boo_licious said...

yeah, I also want an ice cream maker but the only one in KL is a Kenwood one. Are there lots of models in Spore?

Btw, how much were yr vanilla beans? I found a place here that sells one bean for RM12.50, still contemplating whether to get.

sari said...

I Love vanilla ice-cream manz!! Oooow manz ..

the baker said...

hi boo, actually i haven't seen any ice-cream maker in sg... haven't really checked it out. ahh vanilla beans are expensive here as well. I bought 3 pods for $4.20 i think. 8 grams in total. not something i'd get everyday !

hey mich, vanilla is the way to go ya? hahaa

Sylvie said...

That looks sooo good.

xianz said...

i saw ice cream maker on sale in Best Denki at Ngee Ann city. I think they cost abt 80+ :( Ya vanilla ice-cream certainly looks delicious! someday i shall try making some! :)
Nice blog btw!

skippety doo dah.. said...

lucky me received an ice-cream maker as my birthday pressie...a philips model purchased in CK Tang..and best of all i got a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Recipe book along with it ..hee hee

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