I do a lot of different ice-creams, and you do need an ice-cream maker for this one (I love my Cuisinart one but any will do). Best place for vanilla pods is actually eBay where you can get shrink-wrap Madagascan ones for a lot cheaper than the Supercook ones you get in the supermarket. You can also cheat by using a sachet of vanilla sugar and leaving the vanilla pod stage out. My notes from the day tell me this is recipe #8 without the chill stage… 😉
- Put the canister from the machine into the freezer a day before you want to make the ice cream.
- Next day, pour about 200ml cream and 300ml semi-skimmed milk into a medium heavy-based pan, and tip in 60g of golden caster sugar. Slit a vanilla pod down its length with a small sharp knife and scoop out as many of the tiny black seeds as you can into the cream mixture. Cut the pod into three and drop it into the pan.
- Heat the cream and milk over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until it almost boils – you’ll see a few bubbles at the edge. Take off the heat and set aside for 30 minutes so the vanilla can infuse.
- Put 3 large egg yolks into a bowl with another 50g golden caster sugar and beat with an electric hand beater for about 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened, is paler in colour and falls in thick ribbons when you lift the beaters. Using a measuring jug, scoop out about 125ml/4fl oz of the cream mixture and beat into the egg yolks to slacken them. Reheat the cream until it just comes to the boil, take off the heat and stir in the egg yolk mixture.
- Return the pan to a low heat and cook, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, for 8-10 minutes, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Watch that it doesn’t boil – as soon as you see any bubbles about to burst to the surface, it should be thick enough, so take the pan off the heat so the mixture doesn’t curdle.
- Put a greaseproof circle on the mixture so a skin doesn’t form and put the bowl in the fridge for 3-4 hours, preferably overnight, so it gets really cold.
- Get the ice cream machine running, scoop out the vanilla pod pieces from the mix, then slowly pour in the cold custard. Leave it to churn for 10-30 minutes (depending on your machine). When it stops, it is probably too soft to eat, so spoon into a plastic container, cover with cling film, then a lid, and freeze for a minimum of an hour. (It will keep in the freezer for 3 months but don’t take it out, then refreeze.) Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.