I’m horribly overdue to finally dish out the recipe for Claudia Fleming’s incredible buttermilk ice cream — she of the scones, the gingerbread and the sandies — something I promised in January and have been going on about since December, when a friend sent me home with a pint she’d made. This stuff is perfection — all of the elements of a great vanilla ice cream with an extra tang that keeps it from being, well, “vanilla”.
Buttermilk is a funny thing. I can’t remember my mother using it once growing up and when I started baking more, was horrified by the stuff, which smells and taste a lot like the curdled milk that it is. How wrong is that? But now I love it. I mean, I haven’t taken to drinking a glass of it warm like a certain cooking instructor told me his elderly mother does — yeesh! — but when I smell it, I think of biscuits and cakes and muffins and I like it. So an ice cream that magnifies this deliciousness was not meant to last long in our apartment.
Except — and I’m deeply ashamed to admit this — I made this at the wrong time. It was January, and I hadn’t quite figured out yet why I had no appetite and this batch of ice cream sat unloved, aside from a rare dish or spoonful, in the freezer for months. Basically, if it didn’t taste like grapes or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I pretty much wasn’t eating it those weeks, despite trying to woo my taste buds with steak sandwiches, empanadas and currys. Last weekend, as we hurriedly dumped the remaining contents of our freezer as the movers heaved our poor sofa down three narrow flights of stairs, it emerged again and made a regretful exit from our apartment and I’ve craved it every minute since.
I’d like to say “don’t let this happen to you!” but I believe these cruel inconsistencies in appetite are out of our hands. I will say instead that if you make some, and you should, can you save a bit for me? I haven’t unearthed my ice cream maker and Haagen Dazs just ain’t cutting it.
Oooohh-klahoma! We fly out to the Pioneer Woman’s ranch tomorrow morning and I can’t wait. Seriously, anything to get away from The Great Unpacking of Aught-Nine. On Saturday, I’ll be demo-ing a few of my favorite New Yorkish recipes [page in progress] to a small group at the Lodge and on Sunday, Ree and I will be cooking up some more, or pretending to while I actually go out and ogle the
cows cowboys. I hope to get an update or two in while I’m there (I was going to ask if they had connectivity out there; I’m not that bright these days) but if you’re anxious, you should also check out the Pioneer Woman’s site as she is a blogging machine and will no doubt have an almost-live feed of the weekend.Yee-haw!
Buttermilk Ice Cream
Adapted from Claudia Fleming’s astoundingly awesome The Last Course which is woefully out of print but I have it on good authority that if you call The North Fork Table and Inn (where she now “pastries”), they have a small supply and might even send you a signed copy. The book includes the recipe for her famous mallomars — need I say more?
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
12 large egg yolks*
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream
Pinch of salt
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.
Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.
* I’m going to share with you a little secret: You don’t need to use all of these egg yolks. Oh sure, you can and the results will blow your ice cream-loving mind. However, let’s say you find that you only have six or eight egg yolks on hand, this will also do. The ice cream will be less rich, but still incredibly more rich than anything you can buy at any store.