Baked Alaska

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

baked Alaska a dessert which combines hot meringue and cold ice cream. It is made by placing a well-chilled block of ice cream on a base of sponge cake, masking it with uncooked meringue, and then baking it in a hot oven for just long enough to brown and set the outside. The recipe exploits the insulating properties of air, trapped in the sponge and meringue, to keep the ice cream solid whilst heating the outside.

Mariani (1994) remarks, in an interesting note, that Thomas Jefferson seems to have devised a dish of this type, but gives main credit for the scientific thinking which led to the dish in its present form to Count rumford. He also observes that the famous chef Charles Ranhofer, to whom some give credit for creating the dish, called it ‘Alaska, Florida’ in his own mammoth cook book (1893), and that its modern name seems only to have appeared in print in the first decade of the 20th century, e.g. in the 1909 edition of Fannie farmer’s Boston Cookery Book.