A Victorian Offering

brown bread ice cream

Being part of a Victorian property has meant that over the years I’ve dabbled with many authentic recipes from Lord Armstrong’s era. There’s something very satisfying about creating a dish today that may have been served up in a dining room 150 years ago, especially when it results in something delicious. A word of warning however sometimes historical recipes can be a little vague on quantities which when making a soup or a stew isn’t overly important, but when it comes to baking it can provide some interesting results. I’m sure if you asked my fellow kitchen colleagues they may remember a mild disaster with a recipe for Mrs Beeton’s coffee cake where the ambiguous measurements of bicarbonate of soda resulted in a volcano like effect in the oven, anyway moving on…………………..

Wealthy Victorian’s loved all things decadent and exotic and would often throw ostentatious dinner parties with many courses. Game, tropical fruits and elaborate moulded jellies and terrines were especially popular among the diners.

Ice cream was also extremely popular amongst the Victorian’s however it was strictly a dish for the wealthy as only they could afford to keep imported ice within ice houses in the ground of their estates. Alongside flavours that are still popular today such as vanilla, chocolate and raspberry they also enjoyed some more unusual flavours such as parmesan and brown bread. Now I’m not sure about parmesan flavoured ice cream but brown bread ice cream is extremely tasty. A yummy combination of creamy ice cream and sweet crunchy crumbs its relatively simple to make even without an ice cream maker.

Unfortunately these days we don’t have time to make our own brown bread ice cream at Cragside, luckily however the fantastic people at Doddington dairy make ours and we serve it topped with luscious butterscotch sauce. Is your mouth watering yet? If you’re tempted to try it for yourself pop into the tea rooms or alternatively here’s the recipe to have a go at, complete with the butterscotch sauce.

Brown Bread Ice cream with Butterscotch Sauce

For the Ice cream

110g wholemeal breadcrumbs

170g brown sugar

500ml double cream

100ml full fat milk

1 vanilla pod, slit in half lengthways/1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

1 egg

Mix together the bread crumbs and 100g of the brown sugar and transfer to a lined baking tray. Place the tray into an oven at 180 degrees for approx 10 mins or until golden, remembering to give the crumbs a stir half way through cooking. Then leave to cool.

While the crumbs are cooling put 200 ml of the cream and the milk into a small saucepan with the vanilla pod or extract and put onto medium heat until it boils, once boiling remove from the heat and set to one side.

Whisk the egg, egg yolk and the remaining sugar until it becomes pale and thickened then add the cooled cream to the egg mixture and stir. Once the cream and egg mix is combined transfer to a pan and place onto a low heat. Stir the custard until it thickens then remove from the heat to cool.

Whisk the remaining cream until it is just whipped and fold into the cooled custard, along with the breadcrumbs. Place the mix into a plastic container with a lid and put into the freezer, once the ice cream is beginning to freeze around the edges remove from the freezer and stir. Repeat this process 2 – 3 more times and then leave to freeze completely.

For the Sauce

120g light brown sugar

120g butter

100ml double cream

Place all the ingredients into a pan and place onto a medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, turn down the heat and bring to a simmer. Stir for 5 – 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little and remove from the heat. You can either serve this sauce hot straight over the ice cream or let it cool a little and it will thicken up to a more fudgey consistency.

If you’re a fan of Victorian recipes then please take the time to visit the house at Cragside on a Wednesday afternoon where our lovely volunteers bring history to life by whipping up some treats in the original Cragside kitchen.

cragside kitchen


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