Cheap imitations have tarnished the lustre of real vanilla ice cream. When properly made, with vanilla pod and double cream, it is one of the greatest of classics, on its own, with a chocolate or strawberry sauce, soft fruit or a hot fruit pie. For occasional variation, I use light muscovado sugar, which gives a delicious caramel flavour.
Slit the vanilla pod down its length. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Pour the milk into a pan and add the vanilla pod. Bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour on to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base does not touch the water, and stir for about 5 minutes, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil. Stand the bowl in iced water to cool quickly. Remove vanilla pod.
When cool, add the double cream and mix well. Churn or beat by hand as it freezes.
Move the ice cream from the freezer to the fridge about 15 minutes before serving.
© 1990 Joyce Molyneux. All rights reserved.