Brown bread or dead

In cockney rhyming slang, "brown bread" is synonymous with the word "dead".  It's one of many phrases that my Mancunian husband adopted when he moved south to London.  Let me assure you that this ice cream is not for the dead.  If putting whole wheat bread into ice cream sounds odd, don't be fooled.  The little crumbs of bread make the most delicious chunks of goodness that are similar to praline.  

Ice cream is the one dessert I could not live without.  I am definitely not a sweet tooth, so I'll always pick a home made ice cream off a menu instead of something sickly and sweet.  This recipe is quite creamy- in fact the whipped cream combined with the vanilla custard not only makes the job easy, it also freezes quickly.  I could have easily made this in the late morning and served it with dinner.  

I first had brown bread ice cream in England several years ago, and it's origin dates back to the 19th century- possibly Irish or English.  It can be made with whole wheat bread or Irish soda bread.  I think I'll try the soda bread next time as it really is a bread I adore.  There's nothing better with soup than a nice slice of soda bread with plenty of butter.

This recipe is simple, especially because you don't need an ice cream maker.  I used fresh whole wheat bread here rather than letting it go stale.  I found they made the chunks perfectly chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Brown Bread Ice Cream with Berries
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 6-8

1 cup of crumbs from crustless whole wheat bread
10 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup of whole milk
1 fresh vanilla pod, split lenghtwise
2 large, organic, free range egg yolks
1 1/3 cup of chilled whipping cream
2 pints of berries- strawberries and raspberries are used here

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with buttered foil.  Scatter your bread crumbs on a baking sheet and sprinkle over 3 tbsp regular sugar and 3 tbsp of dark brown sugar.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the crumbs become slightly darker.  Flip the crumbs with a spatula during cooking to avoid them sticking.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.  Break them into smaller chunks if needed.

In the meantime, place the whole milk in a sauce pan.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the milk and add the pod.  Gently heat until just simmering and remove from the heat.  Let it sit and steep for about 30 minutes until cooled.

Whisk the egg yolks with 5 tbsp sugar.  Gently whisk in the vanilla milk into the mixture.  Return all to the sauce pan and stir over low heat (do not boil) until the mixture sticks to the back of a the spoon (about 5 minutes).  Strain it into a small bowl, let it cool and then refrigerate it for about an hour.  

Beat the whipping cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form then fold in the custard.  Finally, gently add the bread crumbs and combine.  Transfer into a tupperware container with a lid and freeze.  

This takes a couple of hours- I tend to freeze mine over night.  Unlike other ice creams, you don't have to go back in and whip this- just let it freeze otherwise it won't be flat and consistent when you spoon it out into bowls.

For the berries,  cut them into bite size pieces combine them with 2 tbsp of sugar about 20 minutes before you serve them.  It creates a lovely sweet juice, perfect for trickling down the side of your brown bread ice cream.

This recipe will generously serve 6.  For a fancier dinner, I like to serve this or store bought gelato in vintage demitasse espresso cups with teaspoons. 

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