The first time I had a version of rye bread ice-cream was at the old Crimean Restaurant in North Melbourne. Now sadly closed, the Queensberry street corner pub boasted a delicious menu of all things east European, serving crucial smoked, pickled and cured delicacies with obligatory mounds of dill and sour cream.
The restaurant was modern without any of the trendy fuss that often accompanies Melbourne’s dining scene – serving traditional classic dishes with clean, subtle refinement. The dark polished floorboards, gently lit dining room, Commie propaganda posters and incomparable vodka selection (brought around at the end of the night on a gilded Victorian trolley) gave the place a daggy-Transylvanian-cold war romance with only the faintest hipster whiff.
Despite the evocative interior and the irresistible honey vodka, it is the ice-cream that has lingered in my memory. I love the nutty fermented sourness of this dark bread. It transports me back to a childhood spent in Germany, and my introduction to the world of rich heavy breads laden with seeds, grains, and sweetly medicinal herbs. It is perhaps no wonder, then, that a rye bread ice-cream would be on my list of favourites, and what better time to be eating this indulgent dessert than Christmas.
Prep time: 2-3 days (including infusing and resting time)
Makes: 1 litre
700ml full cream milk
4 slices toasted pumpernickel, torn into small pieces
1 tbsp powdered milk
6 tbsp sugar
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp heavy cream
In a large non-metallic bowl place the milk and toasted pumpernickel. Cover with plenty of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours to infuse.
Once the milk is infused with the pumpernickel flavour, strain through a fine sieve. Place the soggy pumpernickel into a muslin cloth and squeeze tight to extract as much liquid and flavour as possible. Discard the pumpernickel.
Place the strained milk in a saucepan, whisk in the powdered milk, and over a medium-low heat gently bring to the boil – you don’t want to scald the milk – it is ready when small bubbles begin appearing at the side of the saucepan. Stir constantly to ensure the milk heats evenly.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale, thick and creamy. Once the milk has reached a gentle boil, slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture (like you are making mayonnaise), whisking constantly at medium-high speed until well combined. It will go frothy, but this is ok. Next, put the custard back into the saucepan and over a low heat, stir constantly until thickened. Once it has reached the desired consistency place into a non-metallic bowl, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Finally, place into your ice-cream churner and churn until the mixture looks like soft serve. At this point scoop it into a sealed container, then straight into the freezer to harden. The ice cream will keep for up to 10 days if stored correctly.
SERVE WITH: Poached apricots and cinnamon biscuits