When you taste this, you’ll never again describe something dull as ‘vanilla’. It’s some of the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten...
This uses the same base gelato that the chocolate ice cream on the next page uses, but with vanilla and lemon instead of chocolate.
Prepare two bowls, a bigger one filled with ice cubes and a smaller one into which you will pour the cooked ice cream mixture. Put the small bowl inside the big one, making sure the ice surrounds it but that the inner bowl is dry, to create an ice bath. In this smaller bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a balloon whisk.
Slice the vanilla pods lengthways and scoop out the seeds with the tip of a knife. Put the seeds and pods into a saucepan with the milk and stir in the lemon zest. Over a gentle heat, bring the milk to a temperature of 85°C (just before a full simmer), but do not let it boil. Discard the vanilla pods at this point, leaving the seeds behind.
Now pour the warmed milk a little at a time onto the beaten eggs in their ice bowl, whisking quickly to prevent them from scrambling. Pour the egg and milk mix back into the saucepan and cook on a medium heat for 5–7 minutes until it thickens to a custard. Keep stirring until the custard coats the back of the spoon. You should get a silky smooth result: if you see any small lumps, it means the temperature is too high and you are overcooking the eggs. If this happens, just remove the pan from the heat and cool.
Make sure the smaller bowl is back in its ice bath and pour the custard into it. Whisk while it is cooling to keep it smooth. When it is completely cool, whip your double cream to soft peaks and then fold it into the custard with a metal spoon so you don’t lose the air in it. This is your base gelato.
Pour it into your ice cream machine and let it do its job for around 30 minutes. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, put the base gelato in the freezer for 6–8 hours and stir it with a fork every 30 minutes or so to stop ice crystals forming.
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