Ice cream is my catch-all cheer-up indulgence, eaten by the pint in front of light comedic television, or crime scene dramas, depending on my mood. One Saturday evening, alone, on the turn of Autumn, I found myself partway down a tub of chocolate ice cream, wondering if I could use it as a substitute for the majority of ingredients in a traditional cake recipe. Ice cream is, after all, made from eggs, fat (the milk and/or cream) and sugar, all key building blocks in a standard sponge. I pottered to the kitchen with it in hand, and set it on the worktop to melt – an act of extraordinary willpower, if I may congratulate myself briefly for it, as I have been known to eat two tubs back to back and make generous inroads into a third.

A little maths and some crossed fingers later, and I was tucking into an atrociously light chocolate loaf cake, made with just two ingredients and a dash of incredulity. I later learned that I was not the first person to try this; readers sent me their own ideas for Smarties ice cream cake, and I am working on a Neapolitan traybake after Emily Leary, who writes the award-winning food and parenting blog ‘A Mummy Too’, suggested it in the late hours of the evening and I can’t think of any good reason why not to. The recipe for that particular wonder will undoubtedly be in a future book or blog post! Meanwhile, this left me both astounded and delighted. I added the baking powder to a later edition, and it was even better, so I’m including it here. 

Ice Cream Cake by Jack Monroe

Makes one large loaf cake, approx eight generous slices, from 5p each. Wait what?! 5p?! I had to recalculate that twice to make sure it was right, but it really, really is. Wow. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.)

410g chocolate ice cream, 32p (£1.55/2l) 

215g self raising flour, 6p (45p/1.5kg)

1.5 tsp (6g) baking powder, 2p (69p/170g)

First remove your ice cream from the freezer, and leave it to melt completely, which usually takes around an hour. Don’t be tempted to speed up this process by heating it up, as that changes how it reacts in the recipe, and your cake may not work as well. This is a great use for ice cream that has melted beyond redemption, accidentally left out of the freezer, as well.

Preheat your oven to 180C, making sure the shelf is slightly below the centre, and lightly grease a standard sized 1lb loaf tin. Spoon your ice cream into a mixing bowl, and add half of the flour. Measure in the baking powder, and mix well to form a runny batter. 

Add the remaining flour a heaped tablespoon at a time, mixing it in well, until it is all incorporated into the mixture.. The batter may be unusually thick, depending on the ice cream used; this is completely normal at this stage.

Spoon and scrape every last drop of the cake mixture into the loaf tin, and smooth the top. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but where the mixture is so thick, it may need a gentle nudge into the corners!

Place the loaf tin in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until risen, and a small sharp knife or cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If it is still a little sticky, return it to the oven for 10 minutes, turning the heat down to 140C to keep the top from burning.

When your cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes, before gently removing and turning out to serve. 

Enjoy hot, or cold.

This cake will keep for three days, tightly wrapped in film or tin foil, and stored in an airtight container. To freeze it for future enjoyment, slice it thickly and place each piece in a food storage bag. Defrost thoroughly, and warm through to serve.

If you want to use a more indulgent ice cream, like Ben and Jerrys, the Moophoria salted caramel brownie flavour is half price at Asda at the moment, making it just £2.50 instead of a fiver. This makes the cost of the recipe 32p per slice instead of a jaw-dropping 5p, but that’s still a bargain!


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