My love for ice cream emerged at an early age – and has never left!
Ginger Rogers

When I was a little girl, my mother made some banana ice-cream.   This episode sticks in my head  (perhaps almost on a par with the home-made Sarsaparilla exploding in the pantry that time, but that’s another story) because at the time, we didn’t have an ice-cream maker.  The anticipation, therefore, of watching the delicious banana custard being encouraged into the Tupperware container  and placed in the freezer for HOURS nearly drove me to distraction.  I had to wait.

Every twenty minutes, she’d take the container out of the freezer and stir up the ice cream mixture so that the ice crystals didn’t freeze too large and this in the end, produced a lovely, velvety banana ice-cream which was savoured and shared that night.

In this family, bananas are a comfort food.  I don’t know why, but they are.  Perhaps it’s banana custard, or banana bread which creates this link for me.  Perhaps I ate mashed banana as a baby (I know all my children did and loved it) or it’s just the fast food factor of a simple pre-wrapped fruit which is full of delicious and healthy things.

Either way, I had a yen for banana ice-cream so I’m going to share my recipe with you.

You’ll need:

  • 300 ml of single cream
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • a vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Approx 5 ripe bananas (depending on taste and size)
  • A plastic box of about 1.2 litres for the freezer and an ice-cream maker are good.

I have a Cuisinart ice-cream maker which is perfect.  We keep the bowl in the freezer all the time so that it’s ready.  Some ice-cream makers have a compressor so that the maker itself freezes the ice-cream, but these tend to be expensive and frankly, they’re not essential to making really good ice-cream at home.

There are two ways of making ice-cream –

  1. Churn together cream, milk and flavourings (Advantage – it’s egg free and can be dairy free if you choose soya/coconut milk instead and ditch the cream)
  2. Create a proper custard using eggs (Egg allergy people take care!)

We’re going to create a custard  based ice-cream, which is soooo much more decadent and rich than a simple churned ice-cream.

  • Firstly, put your milk into the pan along with the cream.
  • Split the vanilla bean lengthways with a knife, cutting just one side open.  Try not to cut right through.  Now throw that in with the milk/cream mix.
  • Turn the heat on low and warm the mixture through for about 10 minutes.  DO NOT BOIL.  You’re ‘steeping’ the mix to encourage flavours to come out.

  • Next, break your eggs and separate the yolks out.  Keep the egg whites in the fridge and you can have pale scrambled egg in the morning for breakfast.  Great if you love white food.
  • Now beat the egg yolks with the sugar.  You want the sugar to dissolve slightly and the mixture to become a light yellow colour.
  • Take the bean out of the milk mixture and open it up on a board.  Take a knife and remove all the delicious vanilla seeds from inside the pod.  Just scrape them out by running your knife along the open bit and then pop them back into the mix.

  • Leave the mixture to cool now, and when it’s just warm, you can mix in the egg/sugar mixture.  Any hotter and you’ve got scrambled eggs!
  • Now squash your bananas with a fork.  Mash them up until they’re slimy and delicious!

  • Throw the bananas into the pan with the milk/cream/sugar/egg but reserve about 1 banana or a little more in a dish until afterwards.
  • Now gently heat the mixture.  You want the egg yolks to start thickening the mixture.  Make sure it doesn’t boil… just heat it enough and keep stirring.
  • Eventually the mixture will thicken – it should coat the back of a wooden spoon and slowly move down it

  • Once it’s sticking to the back of the spoon, you’re ready.
  • Sieve the mixture and remove the banana bits.  This is because they’re now cooked and once frozen won’t be that appealing.  You can leave them in if you like, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  (I’ve made this before, can you tell?)
  • Now add in the uncooked banana you separated before.  This won’t freeze oddly so you’ll get a lovely textured ice-cream.
  • Now throw the lot into your ice-cream maker and churn.
  • Once it’s churned but whilst it’s still maleable, using a spatula, move it into the plastic box, pop the lid on and put it into the freezer.

  • Get the custard mix, pop it into the box, throw the lid on and every 20 mins, whisk the heck out of it, scraping the sides of the box to ensure even distribution of the ice crystals.  This might seem long winded and time consuming, and you’d be right.  It is but oh my gosh, it’s worth it!  Keep mixing it and freezing it until you’re happy with the texture.  Really bash those bad-boy ice crystals up!  Eventually it’ll be too stiff to keep bashing, at which point you just leave it to freeze.

Good ice-cream needs time to ‘cure’.  Simply, it needs a good few hours in the freezer to gain the texture it’s meant to have.  In reality of course, you’ll be so eager to try it, you’ll probably throw convention to the wind and like me, manage to wait a whole two hours before you scoop the slightly melty, banana-ridden deliciousness out into a bowl….

By the way, leave the ice-cream for ten minutes to soften before attempting to scoop it.

And… enjoy!