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RECIPE: Vanilla Ice Cream (from scratch, simple & delicious)

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Hello everyone! Are you enjoying the sunshine? Yes? No? It is a little hot isn’t it.

Not that I am moaning about the heat, I am not. It is mainly joyful except from oh, 10am to 6am, when I drag myself around like a sloth, but this is not the fault of the heat. It is the fault of my rental apartment which has no air con. For when do we ever need it except for a week or so in the summer.

I need it now, and I don’t have it. I don’t even have a fan (I am working on that). So without all of this, what am I to do but to obsess on ice cream, icy drinks like granita and allow myself an occasional snooze, just so, you know, I can deal with it all.

Lets start with ice cream. Frozen custard, that is all it is. The custard is proper custard, home cooked, and not the Birds variety which as a child I used to adore (and is simply coloured and flavoured cornflour).

Real custard fills me with fear. Fear and dread and a mild panic. Why so? Well in school home economics it was communicated to me that it was very easy to screw up and curdle the eggs, and that it should be done slowly in a water bath and that it would take approximately a very long time. I remember stirring anxiously with a wooden spoon, terrified of a yellow fleck of curdled egg (my world was much smaller then). It was delicious but I vowed to never do it again and went back to Birds.

No more, the fear is gone (long gone, I have been making it happily for years now). It is a little painful in that you must take great care, but it is very do-able. The first ice cream I will share with you is one of Nigel Slater’s, his Vanilla Ice Cream, a classic egg custard with some lovely vanilla grinning through. The ice cream is perfect and as a classic vanilla ice cream should be, rich, cool, sweet and aromatic. I think it is the perfect start for a week of ice cream exploration.

I also have recipes of my own, several in my book, lots enriched with cream, some with no eggs at all. One with bacon and another with honeycomb, one with both. I will share a few more with you here this week. I will share the custard love. Bring on the granita and sprinkle the sorbet for summer here and it is freaking hot. So lets deal with it. Here we go.

Note: I use an ice cream machine for these recipes. A worthwhile indulgence if you are an ice cream fan. I use the Gaggia Gelateria because I can make ice cream without planning or without need to freeze the bowl. I have been using it for a few years now and, yes, it is £££ and large and a little noisy, but it is a great home machine and also, speedy. I recommend it.

Recipe from Nigel Slater in The Observer

RECIPE: Classic Vanilla Ice Cream

Serves 6


600ml milk
1 fat vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
150g caster sugar


Pour 600ml milk into a saucepan. Slice a fat vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape the sticky black vanilla seeds into the pan with the point of a knife. Drop the scraped pod in, too, then bring the mixture almost to the boil. Turn off the heat just before it boils. Leave for 30 minutes or so, for the vanilla to flavour the milk.

Beat 6 egg yolks and 150g caster sugar till light and fluffy. Fish out the vanilla pod but not the seeds from the milk, then pour it through a sieve into the egg yolks and sugar, stirring till you get a thin custard.

Put the custard over a moderate heat and, stirring almost continuously with a wooden spoon, bring it slowly towards the boil. Once the custard is thick enough to thinly coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove it from the heat, pour it into a cold basin and leave it to cool. Be very careful not to boil it, or it will curdle. Pour it into a clean saucepan. Once it is cool, refrigerate it for a good half-hour before pouring into an ice cream machine and churning until almost frozen.




  1. I love the fact that Bird’s was originally created because the pharmacist’s wife (all these wacky things were made by pharmacists back then it seems!) was allergic to eggs. How sweet is that?

    I too am afraid of custard, but conquered my fear to make ice cream. I love David Lebovitz’ recipe in his Perfect Scoop book. And I am v jealous of your giant machine, I have a little one I got off craigslist and keep the bowl in the freezer. With frozen peas stashed inside it.

    • That is a TOP custard fact :) Awesome too.

      Haven’t seen David’s recipe but his recipes are always great so I will have to look that up. Giant machine is awesome but I feel my tiny flat groaning. Good exercise carting it around. :)

  2. I could quite happily swim in that, can you easily upscale the recipe? :p. I can’t stand this heat, as I’ve said before I’m just a wimp when it comes to that big yellow idiot in the sky exposing himself like some exploding star flasher! But at least you get to eat ice cream – or swim in it.

  3. Susie says

    A great post, with a lovely reflection on menories of home economics. I use a very similar recipe and make loads of ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker due to lack of space but get perfect ice cream with a blender. Of course it takes longer as you have to freeze in between blending but it is worth the wait. One day I hope to be the proud owner of a machine like yours! In answer to the above comment, I find ice cream easily upscale-able and have also made smaller amounts with just two or three egg yolks. So adaptable! So yum! It means I get to stash egg whites in the freezer for future meringues too! Ein win! Hmmmm…off to make some ice cream now I think, ready for tomorrow…..:-)

  4. Last year for my A-level Food technology studies I chose to develop an Ice cream recipe for my coursework. I followed a very similar recipe to yours for a custard base. However, I never thought to leave the milk off the heat to further infuse with the vanilla. In a time compromised classroom situation it is difficult to do, but thank-you for this tip, it’s a brilliant, simple, idea. I’m definitely going to use this method now when I next make ice cream. Also your photography is marvellous, your blog is so attractive, well done! :)

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Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)