Bombe Squad

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. Hard to believe I’ve been at this for three straight years!

Since I’ve been making chocolate desserts for my husband all month (multiple chocolate bread puddings and brownie cookies, not to mention raspberry-cacao nib muffins), I decided to veer away from the chocolate in making this refreshing dessert, and go with summer fruit flavors instead. After much deliberation (and a trip to the farmer’s market to purchase local boysenberries and apricots), I decided on an almond sponge roll filled with boysenberry jam, apricot frozen yogurt, honey-almond ice cream with gingered almonds, and a boysenberry caramel sauce.

I knew the boysenberries wouldn’t hold out for long, so I got the ball rolling by making a small batch of boysenberry jam, using a pint of berries and an equal weight of organic sugar. Once they came up to a simmer, I let them cook for about 15 minutes, until they reached a jammy consistency that gelled on a chilled spoon. Easy as that. I added a splash of lemon juice and scraped my hot jam into a clean jar that went into the fridge to await its fate.

Next, I had to make my ice creams, a multi-day process since my ice cream bowl needs to be refrozen between batches. I gave the apricots a few extra days to ripen up in a paper bag, then cut them in half and roasted them until they virtually fell apart. Stirred into homemade yogurt with some sugar and vanilla, they transformed into a bright, creamy frozen yogurt that I described on the blog more fully a few days ago. Similarly straightforward was a Philadelphia-style (meaning no eggs) honey-almond ice cream. I toasted some chopped almonds, heated milk and cream with a bit of sugar and honey, and let the almonds steep in the mixture for an hour; then it was just a matter of adding another cup of cream and bringing the temperature of the ice cream base down before churning; when the ice cream was nearly done, I added about a cup of chopped candied almonds for crunch.

As for my Swiss roll, I opted to make an almond sponge roulade rather than a chocolate one, to stick with my chosen flavor profile. Since I was uncomfortable with the idea of adapting the provided recipe myself, I decided it was best to employ a tried and true source,  in this case, The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

This recipe calls for 4 eggs plus an additional yolk, with two of the whites beaten separately, and a combination of cake flour and almond meal. I made the almond meal myself by measuring out 35g of whole almonds, toasting them lightly, and pulsing them to dust in my spice grinder once they cooled, very nearly passing the meal state and going straight to almond butter in the process. The feather-light batter went into my 12×17 jelly roll pan at 450F for a mere 7 minutes, and immediately drew my toddler’s attentions when I set it on the counter; fortunately, there were still some brownie cookies left over to distract him. 🙂

While thinning some of my homemade boysenberry jam to spreading consistency with a bit of warm water, I rolled up the sponge in my silpat to help shape it. Then I spread on a layer of jam, rerolled the cake without the silpat, and encased the roll in plastic wrap to chill for a bit. Considering I haven’t made a roulade since the Yule Log challenge in December of 2007, the process went incredibly smoothly, with the cake sticking just slightly to the parchment and no issues with cracking.

Once the roulade had chilled in the fridge for an hour or two, I carefully cut it into slices and lined a mixing bowl with them. This is the point where things got a little hairy, since my vertically-oriented freezer doesn’t exactly have much free space in it, and anything larger than a quart container needs to be angled in awkwardly around the ice machine built into the door. I removed my ice cream maker’s bowl to churn the almond ice cream, leaving just enough space for the cake-lined bowl. When the almond ice cream was done, I spread some of it over the bottom and sides of the bowl, and then quickly packed the remaining ice cream into a smaller container as it started melting in my warm kitchen. The bombe bowl took up all the extra space in the freezer, however, so I had to do some major rearranging to fit both that and the two containers of ice cream. One more reason to mope and pine for a second fridge or stand-alone freezer.

Once the first layer of ice cream had set up firmly, I made a batch of boysenberry caramel sauce. This was essentially a creamy caramel sauce made with 1 C of caramelized sugar and 1/2 C heavy cream, with the last few tablespoons of boysenberry jam stirred in, then strained to remove any lumps and seeds. The jam gave the sauce undertones of warm purple and berry tartness, a very pleasant twist on the norm.

About half of the caramel sauce was layered into my bombe, and once it firmed up, I topped off the lot with a layer of my apricot frozen yogurt and let it freeze solid overnight.

The next day after dinner, with the temperature in my kitchen hovering near 90F, I turned out the ice cream bombe onto a large plate with no trouble at all. I gave it just a few minutes to thaw while drawing some decorations on the plates with leftover caramel, and cut out slices with a hot knife.

I was generally very pleased with the outcome of this dessert. The roulade shell was visually very striking, if a bit sloppy; the almond ice cream was a little too soft, and bled between the slices more than I had intended. I was surprised by how soft the nutty sponge stayed in the freezer; on the other hand, that caramel set up much more firmly than I anticipated, so it wasn’t really possible to eat it along with the ice cream; I’m wondering if the addition of corn syrup or honey would render the caramel less prone to freezing solid. Its burnt sugar-berry flavor paired beautifully with the rest of the bombe, however, as we noted from the garnish.

On the whole, this was a very pretty dessert, with summery flavors that worked perfectly in concert. However, we agreed that it was much more suited as the highlight of a large gathering rather than just a treat for our little family, served after salad and leftover chicken tetrazzini—in other words, tasty, but mostly not worth the fuss and time involved in the dramatic presentation. We would have been equally  happy with a slice of cake, a scoop or two of ice cream, and a drizzle of sauce over top. But that’s what I love about the Daring Bakers—trying my hand at desserts I’d usually pass by! Thanks so much to Sunita for selecting this interesting recipe!

I am a member of the Theta Class of the Daring Bakers, induced in July of 2007. For more information and a list of my previous challenges, click here.

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