How To Make Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska is one of those desserts that catches diners’ eyes and sends a shiver of anxiety through chefs everywhere. Notoriously hard, this dish consistently makes its way onto lists bemoaning the most difficult desserts around. As if the prospect of baking ice cream and expecting it not to melt wasn’t daunting enough, baked Alaska also requires making sponge cake and meringue, neither of which are particularly simple. If you’re looking to take on one of the most challenging dishes in the baking and pastry arts, here’s what you need to do:

Baked Alaska
Start to finish: 4 hours 30 minutes (2 hours active prep)
Yields: 8 servings

One 8-inch round sponge cake, frozen
Cooking spray
3 pints ice cream (same or complimentary flavors), softened
4 cups meringue

For sponge cake:
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons white sugar, divided
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
Pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 3 tablespoons sugar and egg yolks. Whisk using the whisk attachment for about 15 minutes: The mixture should be yellow and thick. Add vanilla and fold to combine.
  • Combine egg whites and a pinch of salt in a separate bowl. Use an electric mixture on medium speed to whip until frothy. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and beat the mixture until it becomes stiff. Fold this into the first mixture.
  • Pour your batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the cake cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Wrap the cake tightly in foil, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Cake can be made and frozen up to two days in advance.

For meringue:
4 large egg whites
1/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Wait to begin the meringue until specified in your recipe.
  • Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of an electric mixture and beat until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and whip for about 10 minutes, until mixture forms peaks. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Baked Alaska

  • Spray a 5-cup metal bowl with cooking spray and line with plastic wrap. Spread softened ice cream into the bowl, making layers if you are using complementary flavors. Pack the ice cream firmly into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  • Remove cake and ice cream from the freezer, and place the cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Remove plastic wrap covering metal bow, and invert the bowl over the cake to place the ice cream on top. Leave plastic wrap on top of the ice cream and return to the freezer.
  • After 20 minutes, begin making the meringue and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. When the meringue is finished, remove the ice cream cake from freezer and top with meringue, either by spreading the meringue or using a pastry bag.
  • Place in oven, and bake for about 2 minutes, or until meringue just begins to brown. Remove and serve immediately.
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