A true, smooth, old-fashioned vanilla ice cream is made with a rich egg yolk custard and a real vanilla pod for genuine flavour.
Long, thin, brown vanilla pods give the richest vanilla flavour, and the tiny dark seeds add slight speckles and more flavour to the creamy ice cream.
To serve 6, you will need 300ml (½pint) single cream, 1vanilla pod, 4egg yolks, 125g (4oz) vanilla caster sugar (below) and 300ml (½pint) whipping cream.
Put the single cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and add the seeds and pod to the pan. Bring the cream just up to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.
Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Reheat the vanilla-flavoured cream until nearly boiling, then pour gradually on to the egg yolk mixture, beating or stirring all the time. Put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon until the custard begins to thicken. Cool, stirring often.
Whip the whipping cream until thick but not stiff and fold into the custard mixture. Pour into a freezerproof dish and freeze for 3—4 hours. Remove the mixture and beat, preferably in a food processor, and then return to the freezer. Repeat at least once more at hourly intervals. To serve, soften the ice cream in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.