maiden voyage of the ice cream maker.

For months now I have been saying that I was going to buy an ice cream maker. It started in Florida, for obvious reasons – it was hot and I wanted ice cream, dammit. But there was always an excuse not to get one. In Florida, I didn’t want to have one more thing to pack in the car when I moved. Once I got to Oregon, it was oh, I’ll wait until my next paycheck. I had my eye on a model which wasn’t my ideal, but was affordable.

About two days before my birthday, two boxes arrived at my house. Boxes! Presents! On Tuesday morning when I finally allowed myself to open them, what did I find but a Donvier ice cream maker and a cookbook of ice cream recipes. My parents really do know me pretty well. The Donvier was the ice cream maker of my dreams: no fussing around with ice because you just freeze the canister, but still the charm of hand-cranking. Plus, it was the ice cream maker of my childhood and all of those happy ice cream memories. I was ecstatic. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I began planning my first batch of ice cream pretty much immediately, but I was too busy to actually make it. The flavor was obvious though. My yard is overflowing with berries so it had to be a berry ice cream. I settled on loganberries, a giant hybrid of blackberries and black raspberries. The bush in the backyard has just started producing and the berries are gorgeous.

I used a recipe from the birthday cookbook – Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home – as the inspiration for my ice cream, even though I didn’t really follow a recipe. After all, you don’t find too many loganberry recipes. I had to adapt. Instead, I based my ice cream off of a roasted-strawberry buttermilk recipe. I also changed things up by using a custard base.

To start with, I roasted the berries in the oven with some lemon juice and sugar. Interestingly, as they cooked they lost a lot of their dark blackish color and became red again, like their unripe brothers and sisters. After ten minutes or so in the oven they were nice and soft and juicy, and I tossed them in the blender to make a purée.

Next I tackled the custard. Not to brag or anything, but custard is pretty straightforward for me at this point. If you’re in the habit of making it, it’s easy. I recently made a cake for the fourth of July, a layered Scandinavian berry affair with custard in between the cake layers. The recipe came from The Scandinavian Cookbook and it taught me a trick about custards – when you heat up the milk (or cream) the first time, without the egg in it, don’t let it boil! You don’t have to get it fully up to temperature – just pretty hot, so you can temper the eggs. For some reason, thinking about it like this made custards seem even simpler.

Finally, I had to put everything together. The recipe from Jeni’s suggested straining the berry mixture, but I didn’t have a strainer, so I just poured it in with the custard (I didn’t use it all, but the rest will go on top of my oatmeal for the next few days – so no complaints there!). Also in there: some crème fraiche and buttermilk for tang and lot of heavy cream. Mmm, cream.

After sticking the base in the fridge for a few hours, I poured it into the Donvier canister, which I had kept in the freezer for about 24 hours. It was all clean and tidy and ready for its maiden voyage.

Then I kept working away at my computer, taking a break every five minutes or so to churn the ice cream. The key with a setup like this is to not let it get totally frozen around the edges, where the cream actually touches the canister. If you let it get too hard, it will be very difficult to turn the hand crank, and you’ll have frozen ice cream on the outside and merely chilled cream in the center. You have to mix the ice cream so that it ends up a fairly homogeneous texture.

Like this:

The beauty of making your ice cream is that you can choose whether you want soft-serve or hard-serve. I prefer something in between, and that’s what I got. Another score for making things yourself!

When I took the top off of the Donvier, it just smelled like ice cream. You think of ice cream having a taste, but you don’t realize that it also has a smell. It does. It smells like yum, summer.

So it smelled good. Visually, it was a beautiful purple. The texture had a few seeds from the berries but not in an annoying way. What sense is left? Oh yes, it tasted delicious. Sweet, tangy from the buttermilk and crème fraiche, and a little bit sharp from the berries and their lemon juice. Not overpowering in any one direction, but just an overall lovely ice cream.

I hope some of you have ice cream makers and can churn up your own concoctions. I think that the technique on this one would work with any berries, and probably some other fruit as well.

With the maiden voyage successful, I’m looking forward to many more tasty ice creams in the future.

Pretty Purple Loganberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups loganberries

3/4 cup sugar

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/4 cup milk (I used raw milk)

2 teaspoons honey

2 eggs

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

Start by placing the berries in a shallow pan or baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 and while it’s warming up, squeeze the juice of the half lemon over the berries. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup of sugar and stir the mixture so that the berries are coated in both lemon juice and sugar. Bake them in the oven for ten or so minutes. You don’t want them to dry up, so don’t overcook them, but you want them to be soft and the juice should begin to run out of the berries and accumulate in the pan. When you think they’re done, pour the whole thing into the blender and purée them for a couple of seconds – it won’t take much because they’re already pretty mushy.

Next, in a saucepan, whisk together the rest of the sugar and the cornstarch. Add in the milk, whisk well, and place over medium heat. Add the honey and stir periodically to make sure that nothing is burning to the bottom of the pan. In a small bowl, beat the two eggs. When the milk mixture is very hot but not yet boiling, slowly pour half of it into the egg bowl, whisking as you pour. Then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan again and keep whisking. Keep a close eye on the custard and whisk frequently; you will be able to tell that the mixture is thickening. Don’t overthicken because you don’t want the custard to become grainy; just let it get to the point where it is a loose pudding consistency. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, stir the crème fraiche and salt together. Add the still-warm custard mixture, then 3/4 cup of the berry purée. Finally, stir in the cream and buttermilk. Put the ice cream base – because that’s what you have now – in the refrigerator for a few hours until it is uniformly cool. Then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker and enjoy your icy treat!

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