I’ve often wondered about Brown Bread Ice Cream. What was it? Who puts bread in ice cream? In my mind, it was a major disconnect. Bread + Ice Cream = Huh? During my research into Irish recipes, this one came up several times yet I’ve never tasted, much less made it. Why would you do such a thing? Cookies yes, but bread? Brown wheat bread? But you know I was intrigued. My friend Meg once made an amazing ice cream with popcorn so how different could this be? I recalled a post David Lebovitz, the ice cream king, did a few years ago so I thought I’d start there. And you know what? It was really good and what better time than around St. Patrick’s Day to try this one out?
It seems obvious but first you need to get your hands on some brown bread. Believe it or not, a friend asked me if Brown Bread Ice Cream was made with real bread. I’m not sure what else it could be made with but I suppose it was a fair question because bread isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of when you’re making ice cream. If you have a bakery that makes a traditional whole wheat soda bread you’re all set but a good hearty wheat country loaf will do too. I highly recommend baking the bread yourself as it makes a pretty fine sandwich. It’s a humble loaf, nothing too flashy or fancy, rather hearty and the perfect foil to some good jam or a slice or two of leftover corned beef. The original recipe was enormous so I’ve cut it in half since you only need a slice or two for the ice cream. Do what you need to do.
Once you’ve got your bread figured out, take a slice or two and crumble it up into small bits, sauté with butter, sugar and cinnamon then bake until golden and crunchy. The finished mixture looks a lot like Grape Nuts and tastes like the sweet delicious bits in a good granola. You’ll probably have extra crumbs leftover and maybe, just maybe, I can vouch that they’re pretty good in a bowl of milk. Maybe. Pretty damn good and better than a bowl of Grape Nuts.
For the base, the original recipe called for sour cream, which I absolutely adore. Sour cream ice cream is one of the great pleasures in life. The first time I made this I picked up yogurt by accident but it was snowing and miserable and I didn’t feel like turning around so I went with it. The yogurt version may have been a touch tarter than the sour cream but both were equally delicious so that’s your call. But please don’t skip the whiskey raisins as they add such a nice surprise, sort of like an Irish version of rum raisin. And as we know, say it with me, everything is better with booze. If there was ever a time to throw Irish Whiskey in everything, this is it.
The ice cream will keep in the freezer for a week or two, if you can keep it that long. The crumbs start to soften over time but still retain a really nice texture. And what could possibly be better than having ice cream in the freezer? Especially one that’s been hit with the Irish Whiskey stick? Not much kids, not much.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: TOO LA LOO RA LOO RAL. This stuff just makes you want to sing goofy lyrics with questionable meaning. It’s some Irish lullaby so just go with it. In fact, take the whole container and a spoon and have at it. There’s whole wheat fiber in this stuff so it has some redeeming health factors. I’m certain of it.
Four years ago: Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers
Three years ago: French Onion Soup
Two years ago: Barley Marmalade Scones
One year ago: Shaker Lemon Pie
Other Irish and Irish-ish recipes for the season: Classic Irish Soda Bread, Guinness Stout Ice Cream Floats, Irish Oatmeal Pudding, Soda Bread Apple Tarte Tatin, Corned Beef & Potato Pancakes, Chocolate Banoffee Tart, Irish Whiskey Cakes, Reuben Knishes
BROWN BREAD ICE CREAM WITH WHISKEY RAISINS
About 1 ¼ quarts – adapted from David Lebovitz who partially adapted a recipe from Tartine
For the ice cream base:
1 cup whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
8 ounces sour cream or plain yogurt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon Irish whiskey
For the caramelized breadcrumbs:
1-2 slices of brown bread (about 4 ½ ounces)
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, salted or unsalted
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
good pinch of kosher salt
Irish Whiskey raisins:
¼ cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
- for the ice cream base: in a medium saucepan over medium, heat the milk, ½ cup of the heavy cream, sugar and salt until the sugar dissolves.
- Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a medium-sized bowl and whisk together with the sour cream (or yogurt). Set a mesh strainer over the top and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
- Gradually pour some of the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed yolk/milk mixture back into the saucepan.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
- Strain the custard into the heavy cream and sour cream to remove any cooked eggy bits and stir until smooth then stir in the vanilla and whiskey.
- Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
- To make the brown bread crumbs: preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Crumble the bread into small, bite-sized pieces. They should be fairly small, no larger than a corn kernel.
- In a large skillet, heat the butter until it just begins to brown.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon and salt.
- Spread the mixture on the sheet pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times during baking, until well-toasted to a deep, dark brown shade. They’ll look a lot like Grape Nuts.
- Cool completely, You’ll need a generous ½ cup for the ice cream. Crumbs can be made 2-3 days in advance if kept tightly covered.
- For the whiskey raisins: in a small saucepan, bring the raisins and 2 Tablespoons of whiskey to a boil. Remove from the heat and immediately cover tightly with plastic wrap – don’t worry, it won’t melt rather it will create a crazy vacuum seal.
- Let the raisins infuse, soak up all the whiskey and cool completely. Can be done 1-2 days in advance.
- For the ice cream: When the custard base if chilled, process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once churned, quickly fold in the caramelized breadcrumbs and the cooled whiskey soaked raisins then store the ice cream in the freezer until firm and ready to serve.