My little girl turned seven this week. She’s my little green mini-me, who weeps when she sees trees with the ominous orange dot spray-painted onto their trunks, because she knows it means they will soon come down. She’s the one who, if she ever sees me accidentally turn toward the trashcan with something that could go into recycling, reprimands me in no uncertain terms, and then lectures me about the planet. The next generation’s green blogger in the making.
We haven’t had “the party” (meaning the one for other kids) yet, so I’ll report back when that happens, but we did have our little “family” gathering on the actual day of her birthday. As always, we asked the birthday child what she wanted for dinner on her birthday, and what kind of cake she wanted.
For dinner, she wanted Pizza Hut. (Clearly my little environmentalist needs some work. Has Michael Pollan written anything for small children yet? He should get on that…)
For dessert, she wanted an ice cream cake.
These are the kinds of things we used to order from Oberweis or Baskin-Robbins or something, but I didn’t want to go that route, I wanted to know more about the ingredients, avoid artificial colors and growth hormones and HFCS and such. But thinking about it, I realized it’s actually pretty easy. So here's how it works:
How to Make an Ice Cream Cake (9” round)
· Half a gallon of good ice cream, flavor of choice
· 1 quart of good ice cream, contrasting flavor of choice
· 1 or 2 layers homemade cake (I use the “one bowl cake” recipe, either on its own or halved for only one layer)
Start the night before:
Set the half gallon ice cream out to soften for 20 minutes or so; stir well so it’s easily spreadable.
In the pan where you will bake the cake (I use the basic 9” round layer cake, but you could do whatever you want, I guess), spread the half gallon of ice cream as thick as you want your ice cream layer to be; we usually just use the whole half gallon.
Freeze overnight till very solid. (If you need to re-use the pan to bake the cake, once it’s solidly frozen, take the ice cream round out of the pan and wrap it in something like parchment paper or—if you’re like me and sometimes suck it up and use plastic—cling wrap and put back in the freezer.
The next day, or whenever you want if you have 3 cake pans, which I don’t:
Bake your layer cake. Cool completely.
If you baked only one layer, split it evenly into two layers by wrapping a strong piece of thread or dental floss around the circumference and gently pulling through to create two layers.
At least a few hours before serving:
Soften the contrasting quart of ice cream for 20 minutes or so and stir till spreadable
Working quickly, assemble your cake: one cake layer on the bottom, ice cream round in the middle, another cake layer on top. Spread with the softened ice cream as frosting.
Immediately put back into the freezer before it starts melting and becomes a mess. Decorate or garnish as desired, again, just working fast so it doesn’t melt on you. Strawberry halves, cookie crumbs, toasted coconut, whatever sounds good to you…
This cake was a huge hit. Way less expensive than the store-bought alternative. And surprisingly easy, despite the amount of pre-planning required. If you have a lot of birthdays in your house, or are a better planner than I, you could probably make and freeze a few ice cream rounds and/or cake layers at a time, so you can pull it all out and assemble it as you wish.
--Jenn the Greenmom