My main goal in July is keeping the oven off and being out of the kitchen, preferably in a pool, in the shade. That said, there are some summer celebrations that warrant a beautiful, show stopper dessert. Summer fruit is at its best and if you can work in some ice cream, that is an ideal combination. Creamy, fruity, cake or crust? Yes, please! As I’ve mentioned before, you really can’t beat a summer fruit cobbler, pie, or stunningly hued summer pudding, as Rose writes about in her blog this month, but an ice cream cake is uniquely festive and can be made further in advance than either a cake or pie.
There is Fourth of July to plan for certainly but my favorite celebration planning is for my brother, Peter Patrick, whose birthday is in mid-July. He is one of those easy-to-please eaters who likes most everything and is happy to try any new flavor combination I can dream up. If he sees an unfamiliar tropical fruit at the Mexican grocery store, he’ll bring it home and we all get to taste the novel treat.
For the cake layer, I considered a light ginger spice cake, an applesauce cake, or a purchased Sara Lee pound cake. The Sara Lee pound is always a good go-to if you really don’t want to turn on the oven. Since it wasn’t quite as hot as Hades yet, I baked a light fresh ginger cake in a square pan and cut it into three or four horizontal layers. I added freshly micro-planed ginger root to the butter and sugar mixture of a standard yellow cake recipe along with ½ a teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground cardamom, added to the dry ingredients. I specifically used a retro-looking glass heat-proof dish, a so-called “refrigerator dish.*” This dish was deep enough to hold all the layers and would be pretty enough to serve from. I think cold desserts look more charming and chillier, if you will, in glass. Two deep glass bread pans would be a good alternative.
For the “blackberry” ice cream, I used Tillamook’s Marion berry pie ice cream with cooked down, cooled, sugared blackberries folded in. Homemade berry ice cream would be fantastic! The ice cream can be homemade or store-bought but do try to use a premium ice cream. I like the Tillamook brand and Haagen-Dazs never disappoints. I wanted a mango sorbet to complement both the blackberries and ginger in the cake. Plus, the bright mango color against the lavender berry ice cream would be splashy. I had to make my own mango sorbet because there was none to be had at my local grocery store. A quick Google search found a simple recipe for mango sorbet made from frozen mango chunks, processed in a food processor. https://www.asweetpeachef.com/mango-sorbet/ I skipped the lime juice and water and the sorbet was perfect. Subsequently, I found a few mango sorbets to purchase.
To assemble the cake, place the bottom cake layer in the serving dish. Sprinkle with a generous amount of liqueur. I don’t measure my sprinkles of liqueur but 3 or 4 tablespoons would work. Spoon on a layer of softened ice cream. Add another cake layer and sprinkle with liqueur. Add more ice cream or a layer of softened contrasting sorbet. Continue layering until you run out of ingredients or reach the top of the dish. Wrap dish securely with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours or up to 2 weeks. Let cake soften at room-temperature about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh berries. I used a small metal pancake spatula to make cleanly cut servings.
To serve along with the chilly squares of ice cream cake, I wanted three accompanying sauces. In vintage glass pitchers, berry sauce and custard sauce can be passed. (Also known as crème anglaise, click for recipe.) For the berry sauce, I cooked down about 2 baskets of plump blackberries, with sugar to taste, microwaved in my 8 cup Pyrex batter bowl: less stirring over the hot stove is good. A little cut glass dish of thick chocolate sauce would please the chocolate lovers among us.