I had a crack at this recipe back in 2013 armed with a budget ice cream maker and not a great deal of know-how when it came to the recipes of Heston Blumenthal. Since then I've invested in a Sage Smart Scoop ice cream maker which freezes the bowl within the unit and is endorsed by the man himself!
I opened up 'Heston Blumenthal at home' again recently and became pleasantly surprised by how many 'simplified' recipes are in there from The Fat Duck. As anyone who has The Fat Duck Cookbook will know, there's some serious effort needed for many of the dishes.
So this recipe heads preparation for a three-course Heston at home dinner beginning with Red Cabbage Gazpacho, onto Beef Tagliata and finishing with the iconic Bacon and Egg ice cream. The ice cream was the first task undertaken beginning with roasting rashers of smoked sweet cured bacon until crispy before adding to whole milk to infuse overnight.
|Ice cream prep|
The next day I combined this mixture with skimmed milk powder (the recommendation is semi-skimmed but sadly none available at this time) and heated to a simmer. Meanwhile get cracking (literally) as you need 24 egg yolks! (I halved the recipe and went for 12) to be beaten with caster sugar.
I remember last time I made this that the ice cream had a majorly pronounced egg-taste which didn't go down well with some. I brought the mix as close to 85C as possible, tasting as I went before pulling it off at around 82C. This resulted in a smoother, far less coagulated mix resembling ice cream far more than scrambled eggs. Passed through a sieve and left to cool before blitzing with a hand blender to ensure optimum smoothness.
|Blitzed ice cream base|
For the pain perdu, or in English 'eggy bread', sliced brioche is placed into a container and covered with cling film and placed in the fridge for 12 hours to render it stale. Meanwhile I mixed together milk, vanilla extract, eggs and sugar and soaked the brioche slices for 20 minutes.
Once the brioche has soaked it has to be drained and fried in clarified butter. I found doing this over a medium-high heat produced a far more even browning.
The book instructs you to make a dry caramel and fry the slices to create caramelised brioche. One blogger had real trouble getting the caramel to stick to the slices this way, probably due to the grease. The solution to this was to dust the slices in caster sugar once out of the pan, similar to doughnuts. Once coated fry the slices until the sugar melts and voila! You have caramelised brioche.
A bacon crisp finishes the dish, this was made by placing thinly sliced pancetta, brushed with maple syrup, between parchment paper's and two heavy baking sheets.
Plating up the dish is simple enough, two slices on pain perdu forms the base for the ice cream to rest on crowned by a strip of caramelised bacon.
|The final plate|
Compared to 2013's effort this was a thousand times better. The pain perdu was crunchy from the caramel and soft with a lovely vanilla flavour, really really good. The ice cream was surprisingly good! Due to not heating the mixture to 85C resulted in a far better balance of egg and bacon flavour but you could still taste both. The bacon crisp on the top added sweetness and smokiness mingling well with all the other components. It's almost like a sweet breakfast that plays with your mind.
All in all I was delighted to have conquered this much revered dish. It's a tricky one with many areas in which you can go wrong but using these methods produced an excellent result. Maybe I'll even do it again!