August 2010 Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Baked Alaska


The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I haven’t done a challenge since May, so this time I invited  friends over so that I wouldn’t be able to procrastinate the month away again.

The fun part is trying to choose a flavor theme. I had three ideas: Salted Nut Roll (vanilla ice cream with salted peanuts and caramel swirls), Nut Goodie (maple ice cream), Almond Joy (coconut ice cream) or Linzer torte (almond ice cream). What an agonizing decision! After all kinds of deliberating and debating I initially decided on Nut Goodie, a locally made candy bar that has a maple cream center, covered by milk chocolate and peanuts. I would make maple ice cream, candied peanuts, and either a chocolate ganache layer or a chocolate sauce, or maybe both.

But what if my guests don’t like maple? That’s one of those flavors that people can feel pretty strongly about. So I checked with them. One of them responded that he liked maple syrup, but not maple ice cream (uh-oh), but that he might like maple on salmon. Huh? I like maple on salmon too, but how did we make the jump from ice cream to salmon? Ha!  I found out later that when I told them we were having Baked Alaska, they thought I was making a salmon dish. Whoops. I hope they weren’t too disappointed.  So what flavor to choose?

Browned Butter Pound Cake

There was a lot of butter to melt and brown for the pound cake. Is this making anyone else hungry for popcorn?


Careful monitoring results in golden brown and aromatic browned butter.  If you use a stainless steel skillet it will be easier to see the butter browning than if you use a dark pan, such as a cast iron skillet.


The aroma of creaming brown butter and sugar was indescribably yummy! Some people like to sneak bites of cookie dough. I love creamed butter and sugar.


Ice Cream

In the end I decided to make a Linzer Torte Baked Alaska. I made Almond ice cream from Bruce Weinstein’s “The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.” It’s made with almond paste and it is divine.  I swirled in some thinned raspberry jam.  I formed the ice cream in a plastic wrap-lined round-bottomed bowl that was similar in circumference to the cake.


I split the cake and spread thinned raspberry jam between the layers.  I added my ice cream dome, which wasn’t a perfect fit, but would be covered by meringue.

We’ve done a lot of challenges this year involving meringue, and I’m feeling more comfortable making it. Aside from the fact that it was probably the worst month in the history of eggs to be making meringue : )  And I still have the fear of over whipping and breaking it, but so far that’s never happened.

I was sure once it was frosted with meringue that I would do something stupid and dump it on the floor, but everything went fine.  Although, that no matter how good my intention are and how well I organize myself, I can never frost anything without getting it all over myself and surrounding surfaces.


Once frosted, I patted on some toasted slivered almonds and put it to bed in the freezer.  I would later regret the cute little DQ dollops of meringue.


I didn’t watch it closely enough in the oven and 5 minutes at 500 proved to be a little too much for my little meringue curliques.  Oh well, charred is my favorite way to eat marshmallows.  I had just wanted it to look perfect for company.


I loved the ice cream and the meringue.  The pound cake was too dense to soften up in time before the ice cream melted.  So I was disappointed that the cake stayed frozen while we were eating it, which also meant we couldn’t appreciate how yummy it was. This was a pound cake that deserved being served on it’s own with some summer berries. I think I would prefer a more delicate sponge or angel food cake as a Baked Alaska base if I made it again.

Download the printable .pdf of Elissa’s challenge.

6 responses to “August 2010 Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Baked Alaska”

  1. way to go! looks yummy and welcome back to DB after a long break 🙂

  2. Your Baked Alaska looks beautiful (even the meringue curlicues!), and the flavor sounds delicious! Really awesome job on the challenge.

  3. Very elegant Alaska! love the touch of almonds, that was a great idea! I thought the same about the pound cake, so decided to assemble at the time of serving so that the cake would be soft and delicious. My guests ended up enjoying the ” making of” !

  4. Great job on your Baked Alaska! The almonds were such a great idea, I love it! I always make a giant mess while baking, too. But I think that is the fun of it – I don’t think I have ever truly baked something unless myself, the entire kitchen, and the dogs are covered in flour/chocolate/something ridiculously messy! 🙂

  5. Very beautiful! All of the possible flavors sounded good to me 🙂

  6. I think your Baked Alaska looks great, even with toasty curli-ques! I think I would have leaned toward the coconut variety but all of the flavors sounded delicious. Nice job on the challenge!

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