Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Hump-Day Quickie: Ice Cream Bread: or, Better living through petrochemicals

We at A Book of Cookrye have reached a surprising stage in life: the point when you can just leave ice cream in the freezer and no one will steal it. Sure, some of it may be eaten, but if we leave a nearly-full carton in the freezer at night, we will not find it empty and in the trash can within a day. Now that we no longer have to eat a massive bowl of it the night it enters the house because there will be no more once other people see it, we have realized that actually, we often don't a lot of it any time. Lately, we just take a single spoonful out of the carton and put the rest back in the freezer without even double dipping. This means that after a while, the ice cream starts turning into ice crystals and just isn't as nice anymore.
Imagine a whole carton turned into frost like this.

When you've had the same ice cream flavor in your freezer for like two months, it gets a bit old. Like all people, we would like to have a bit of variety in our freezer. Next time we'll just get a little-bitty pint instead. But what do we do to prevent wasting this ice cream that's been defrosted and refrozen so many times it's turning from ice cream to ice frit?

Ice Cream Bread
About 2 cups ice cream (flavor of your choice)
1 box cake mix (also flavor of your choice)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan.
Melt the ice cream and stir in the cake mix.
Pour into the pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until done.

Source: Caker Cooking

You might think we should just throw it out. After all, ice cream is not vegetables or meat or anything that's actually good for you. We're not missing out on any vitamins or something by not eating the rest of this ice cream. But we have often declared how we feel about wasting food:

Rather than throwing the ice cream away, we will transform it into something ric and strange. This recipe comes to us from Caker Cooking, a loving tribute to the many recipes found in community cookbooks that start with "Open one can of soup" and end with "top with crushed potato chips and bake until bubbly." In the first-ever Pieathlon, he made the recipe I sent in. He got this recipe from the comments section of a different ice cream bread recipe he posted.
At first, we thought we might measure about a pint ice cream (viz. the amount the recipe tells us to use) in a mixing bowl and melt it, then we eyeballed the container and figured that about a pint of ice cream remained in it. Furthermore, the rest of the carton would make a decent single-use mixing bowl anyway. And so, the ice cream went into the microwave and emerged permanently changed.

I had a brief moment of airheadedness (or at least a brief moment when my airheadedness became obvious) when I tried a spoonful of the melted strawberry stuff in the carton and said "You know, if we put this in the ice cream freezer it'd make really good ice cream!" Then I tried to pretend I hadn't said that out loud and got out the synthetic cake powder.

The last time we had a close encounter with cake mix, we found that the cake tasted oddly artificial and kind of bad. Or, as our friend we shared the cake with said, "This tastes like shit." We postulated that perhaps I should have used something better than the store-brand cake mix that was a dollar per box. That is probably an incorrect theory, because this is an actual name-brand cake mix and it still has the exact same weird chemical smell when you rip the plastic bag open.
Also, this "batter" was really tough to stir. It bent the spoon back a lot before we gave up and used a bigger one.

Unfortunately, when one determinedly avoids wasting food, one sometimes causes a small waste to become a big one. For example, you may find that your bread is going stale, so you turn it into bread pudding. You then find that the bread pudding tastes terrible and end up throwing it away, meaning that instead of wasting only bread, you've also wasted sugar and fresh eggs. In a similar way, we started off with some ice cream no one was eating. As we stared at the artificially-flavored pink mess we'd mixed together,  we thought we'd turned this into a cake that would go directly from oven to trash, thereby wasting not only the ice cream but also the cake mix we threw in after it.

The batter, if so it may be called, hung and dripped off of the spoon in unnervingly elastic threads. We had to use so much force in mixing it that it seemed the ice cream carton would rip apart before we got all of the cake powder to quit hanging around in clumps and actually mix. 

Do you remember the beef pink slime scandal that went around a while ago? A few people tried to kick off a nationwide outrage that various fast-food places were using meat that looked like this in the factory:
Yes, that is beef.

Anyway, the general reaction from people was apathy and "What did you expect from a one-dollar cheeseburger?"
We mention the pink slime kerfuffle because as soon as we randomly thought about it, today's batter looked particularly unfortunate. Perhaps we should have used a different color of ice cream.
It's not that the batter's pink. The problem is that the batter is a pink that you do not see in nature.

Anyone who's read our previous kitchen misadventures will know we are no strangers to kitchen weirdness. Nor have we ever avoided some very strange substitutions. But this recipe just seemed... odd. It's like, we're not making food, we're slapping together two edible byproducts of the petroleum industry to create a synthetic food-style product.

Furthermore, we were wondering if this would even work. The cake mix tells us to add four eggs (which is quite an extravagance of eggs when you're trying to avoid getting groceries), and here we haven't added any. We checked the ingredient list of the ice cream, and it doesn't have any eggs either. Then again, it's not like we need eggs to keep any oil from separating out because we haven't added any of that either.

Often with cakes and brownies, it doesn't matter if you've done a lousy job of spreading it in the pan because it will go runny and level itself out. Hence the lousy spreading job- we figured it would all even out in the oven. We were wrong.

Now, we had considered icing this until we tasted the batter. Cake mix is already very sweetened, and so is ice cream. So basically we had a bowl of candy. You may be expecting me to therefore say it was overwhelmingly sweet, but if you've ever had seconds and thirds of the fudge platter at Christmas you could eat this and easily love it.

Now, if you think it's bad that our ice cream bread sagged in the middle, when Brian of Caker Cooking tried it, his did too. So if we personally failed at this, we're not the only ones.
This tastes so synthetic that everyone just kept eating it to confirm that it tasted as weird as we thought it did. The texture was oddly similar to angel food cake- it had that light almost-sponginess. It tasted like one of those drive-thru strawberry shakes that we all know contain absolutely no fruit and only trace amounts of dairy. I like those a lot, so I ate more slices of this than I should admit.
I didn't expect this to work, but it does. It's an unexpectedly successful combination of artificial flavors and imitation ingredients that makes a better cake than if you followed the directions on the box. Absolutely everything about this tastes and feels fake, but somehow the fakeness of the ice cream and the fakeness of the cake mix make up for each other's weaknesses and make a masterful tribute to the long industrial drive to take food production out of the kitchen and into the chemistry lab.

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