krumkaker, or cornets/cones
blackcurrant ice cream
the 30-year old Norwegian krumkake iron
freshly churned blackcurrant ice cream
It's June, the sun's shining and Wimbledon's in full swing. So far it's been a blissful English summer - not too warm and only a shower or three to keep us on our toes. Picnics in the park, walks along the South Bank soaking up rays on a Sunday afternoon and a smattering of Pimm's with ginger ale...such is the stuff of summer ;) I know I'm romanticizing but who needs to go away when London's shimmering on days like today.
Of course nothing quite says 'summer' like an ice cream cone, with the ice cream dribbling down your chin, on your clothes, or in my case, somehow ending up in my hair. Last weekend I dusted off two relics from the Johansen kitchen cupboard - a Gaggia ice cream machine and a Krumkake iron to make cornets, or as my American cousins call them, cones. Krumkake is a Norwegian version of the cone, translating as 'crumbly cake', an apt description of this crispy cone. Both machines were pilfered from Ma & Pa Johansen, and after nearly three decades of use still work - though admittedly just as I'm about to plug in these prized posessions there's a moment when I worry whether I might be electrocuted or the machine will simply have ceased to function. Thankfully, both are still going strong.
As mentioned on a recent post on the Beyond Baked Beans facebook page, I'm an ice cream snob. Nothing quite raises the Johansen ire like commercial ice cream or mediocre 'homemade' ice cream in restaurants or ice cream parlours. The best stuff in London is certainly dark chocolate ice cream from Chocstar and pretty much anything from Odonno. Even supermarket offerings that are purported to be good, such as Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry's, are cloying, chewy and over-priced for what is effectively just a humble mix of milk/cream, eggs and sugar. So if you have the time and inclination, I really encourage you to try making your own ices this summer. For a basic fruit ice cream recipe, go to the abovementioned facebook page and play around with flavours and ingredients - I'm lucky enough to have a gadget for ice cream churning, but you can make perfectly good ice cream without one.
And as for the cones - try baking the mixture on a sheet in the oven as you would with brandy snaps. The key to getting the 'cone' shape is to work quickly once the cones are baked - recruit a few mates with asbestos fingers to help you with this task, and roll them up before cooling in a cup. You can of course vary the flavours, adding cinnamon or cardamom for a change, or replacing lemon zest with orange zest, or some vanilla extract/seeds. A sprinkling of cocoa or chocolate wouldn't go amiss either, but the classic lemon zest and nutmeg combo is a match made in heaven, so I confess to never deviating from this 'Norway's delight' recipe...
- 110g plain flour (or 4 oz for imperially-minded friends)
- 110g butter, melted
- 110g sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 medium egg
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
- pinch salt
Plug in your krumkake iron, or preheat the oven to 190 C and prepare a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the flour, butter, water in increments. Grate in zest and nutmeg. Beat together til there are no lumps - it should be quite a thick batter, the consistency of gloopy toothpaste.
Butter the krumkake iron and place a dollop of the mixture on the bottom of the iron, close the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes depending on how hot the iron gets. You want a pale brown colour, not too brown or they'll scorch. If baking in the oven, place on the upper shelf and leave for 5-7 minutes.
Remove the krumkake cornet when it's ready and - this is the tricky bit - shape into a cornet while still warm. You'll quickly develop asbestos fingers from doing this if you're not already in possession of a heatproof pair of hands. I find quickly shaping, then placing the cornets in a glass (my mother suggested a champagne flute!) or a cup so they hold their shape is the best method.
If making cornets proves exasperating - after all toasted fingers are no fun - simply make baskets instead by shaping the krumkake around the bottom of a glass, ramekin or rolling pin and folding up the edges like a brandy snap. Makes for a pretty basket, though more vulnerable to breakage when storing. The cornets are definitely easier to stack in a sealed cookie jar, and will keep for a week or two. These are ideal for serving friends at a dinner party, as indeed is the homemade ice cream. Simple really.