What Are the Best Tips for Making Baked Alaska?
Baked Alaska is a visually impressive dessert consisting of layers of cake and ice cream encased in a thick shell of browned meringue. A few tips can make it easier to produce Baked Alaska that is both beautiful and delicious. First of all, to ensure that the ice cream does not melt, bakers should take the time to freeze the dish’s components as needed. Using a piping bag and watching the cake as it browns can make for a beautiful meringue shell. Finally, to add an element of the unexpected to their dish, bakers might consider experimenting with alternatives to the traditional white cake base.
One of the trickiest parts of preparing Baked Alaska is making sure the ice cream does not melt when the dessert is briefly placed in the oven for browning. For ice cream that remains frozen, it is important to allow adequate time to thoroughly freeze the dish’s parts. The ice cream itself, for instance, should be frozen overnight before it is used to top the cake layer. Similarly, the cake layer should be frozen for several hours or overnight after it is baked, and the entire assembled dish should be frozen before it is placed in the oven.
It is the meringue shell that gives Baked Alaska its impressive appearance, and as such, bakers should take steps to ensure that it is formed well and browned properly. Many recipes dictate that the prepared meringue should be spread over the dessert’s cake and ice cream layers with a spoon. To give the dish some added visual appeal, bakers might consider skipping the spoon and instead applying their meringue using a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped tip. Additionally, as meringue begins to color within seconds of being placed in a hot oven, it is important to watch the dessert the entire time it is browning to avoid unsightly burned areas.
Lastly, while many Baked Alaska recipes call for a layer of white cake, creative bakers should not feel bound to tradition. Substituting another type of cake or even another dessert item for this white cake layer can give the dessert a modern twist. For instance, bakers might try preparing the dish using a layer of red velvet cake, brownie, or even chocolate chip cookie dough which has been baked in a cake tin or pie dish.
@Grivusangel -- I know what you mean. I can do an ice cream cake with no problem, but baked Alaska? That's a whole other realm of cooking, in my opinion.
I'd rather do something simpler that *looks* hard, like cherries jubilee. Nothing is as impressive as setting that liqueur on fire tableside. It's a real show stopper. Same goes with bananas foster. Easy to make, but flame that alcohol and it looks like something from a five-star restaurant in New Orleans! I've even seen some chefs in NOLA flame bread pudding that had been soaked with a heavy rum sauce. Yum, yum.
Baked Alaska is a spectacular presentation, but I've never felt equal to making it. I am just not comfortable enough with making a meringue to try it. And anything that involves a piping bag and piping meringue is bound to be an interesting outcome, since I have absolutely no talent for decorating with piping tips -- at all. I'm sure the finished product would taste good, but would look like an untalented third grader assembled and decorated it. I would like to have it at a restaurant sometime, just so I could see what it's supposed to look like!
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