Nigel Slater’s ice-cream recipes | Food

Fibo Quantum

The summer staggers on. The air is hot and thick as treacle. There is no breeze, not a single leaf moves. For some, the summer of their dreams. For me, the perfect excuse to make ice-cream. To be honest, there has barely been a day when there hasn’t been at least two tubs in the freezer. Homemade vanilla or raspberry ripple, perhaps one made with roast plums, another with basil and lemon. Some have been made here in my kitchen (crème fraîche, lemon, a less than perfect pistachio), others have been rushed home from the shops. There have been wafers and cornets, sundaes and ice-cream sandwiches, and more than I care to admit eaten straight from the tub.

Then there are the water ices, the granitas and sorbets that have been particularly welcome in this, the stickiest of summers. Of these, it is the apricot that has been the most pleasing. A frustrating fruit, whose flavour can be generously described as fleeting, caught at its best simply by being allowed a brief simmer in a light sugar syrup. The ice-cream that has induced the most cheers has been one of vanilla and blackcurrant, the dark fruit made into a thick, intensely flavoured jam and marbled through the pale and creamy ice.

I do have an ice-cream maker and it does produce an ice of particularly smooth and creamy texture, but I don’t regard it as an essential piece of kit. You can make a perfectly fine ice-cream with a fork and freezer box. The trick is to let the mixture freeze around the edges so only the centre is still soft, then beat briefly with a whisk or fork, bringing the glistening crystals into the middle, then return it to the freezer. Doing this every hour or so will produce a much lighter textured ice than one that has just been left in the freezer to do its own thing.

Apricot lemon sorbet

You don’t need perfectly ripe apricots to make a gently flavoured water ice. Bringing the fruit to softness with a little sugar brings out the flavour of those fruits that stubbornly refuse to ripen. The lemon makes them sing. We have made this sorbet all summer this year, eating it as it is, or spooning it into cones and sundae glasses with alternate layers of raspberries and vanilla ice-cream.

Serves 6

caster sugar 250g
apricots 750g, ripe or almost ripe
lemons 2

Put the sugar into a stainless-steel or enamelled saucepan, add 500ml of water and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Halve the apricots and remove their stones, then add to the sugar syrup and leave to cook at a steady simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on the ripeness of your fruit. They should be completely soft.

Halve and squeeze the lemons and pour the juice into the apricots. Tip the fruit and their syrup into a blender jug and reduce to a thin purée. Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn until almost frozen. Alternatively, pour into a freezer box and place in the freezer for two hours. As the mixture starts to freeze around the edge, stir gently then return to the freezer for a further hour or two, before repeating until the mixture is almost frozen.

Scoop into bowls and serve.

Vanilla blackcurrant ripple

‘Replace half the milk with cream if you wish’: vanilla blackcurrant ripple.

‘Replace half the milk with cream if you wish’: vanilla blackcurrant ripple. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

This ice-cream is rich enough without using cream, but you could replace half the milk with cream if you wish. If you can find a plump, sticky vanilla pod, then one will be enough. Failing that, two or three smaller ones will do.

Serves 6

For the vanilla ice-cream:
milk 600ml
vanilla pod 1
egg yolks 6
caster sugar 150g

For the blackcurrant ripple:
blackcurrants 250g
caster sugar 3 tbsp
water 100ml

To make the ice-cream first pour the milk into a saucepan. Slice the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape the sticky black vanilla seeds into the pan with the point of a knife. Drop the scraped pod in, too, then bring the mixture almost to the boil. Turn off the heat just before it boils. Leave for 30 minutes or so, for the vanilla to flavour the milk.

Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Discard the vanilla pod, then pour the milk through a sieve into the yolks and sugar, stirring to a thin custard, then pour into a clean saucepan.

Put the custard over a moderate heat and, stirring almost continuously with a wooden spoon, bring it slowly towards the boil. Once the custard is thick enough to thinly coat the back of the wooden spoon, remove from the heat, pour into a cold basin and leave it to cool. Refrigerate the custard for a good half hour before pouring into an ice-cream machine and churning until almost frozen.

Transfer the ice-cream into a freezer box and freeze for two hours.

Remove the blackcurrants from their stems. Put the fruit in a small saucepan with the sugar and 100ml of water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes until the currants are starting to burst and the liquid has become a deep purple colour. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly for 2 or 3 minutes until the liquid has formed a thickish syrup, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

As the ice-cream is starting to firm in its freezer box, spoon in the blackcurrants and swirl through the ice-cream to form ribbons of purple. Avoid the temptation to over-mix. The ice-cream should be mostly creamy white with ripples of blackcurrant through it. Return to the freezer until set.

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