RECIPE – Heston Blumenthal’s Perfect Baked Alaska

As you may know, I recently dined at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Restaurant in London and it. Blew. My. Mind.

Having watched his tv series a million times (Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection), I decided that I wanted to make his perfect BFG (Black Forest Gateaux). I’ve attempted a regular Black Forest Gateaux recipe before but having tasted Heston’s BFG at his restaurant, I aspired to do better. (See here for other Heston Blumenthal related posts)

What does BFG have to do with Baked Alaska, you ask?

The only thing was, BFG required 18 eggs with about 12 egg whites left over – what to do with it? Why, attempt his Perfect Baked Alaska recipe, of course. So I’m working on them both at the same time – first to be completed is the Baked Alaska (Ed: Heston’s Perfect Black Forest Gateaux now completed).

Slight flickering of flames on the baked Alaska

I actually made more than one Baked Alaska as there were plenty of leftover ingredients. Heston’s perfect Baked Alaska was not hard to make – just time-consuming.

So what is in Heston’s Baked Alaska?

From top to bottom:

  1. Swiss Meringue
  2. Banana Parfait (with caramelised hazelnuts) – (Note: Best Parfait ever! You have got to try it!!)
  3. Chocolate tube filled with Raspberry Sorbet
  4. Sponge base

Seems simple enough, right? WRONG.

It involved things like making a sort-of mayonnaise for the sponge, so much whisking/creaming of egg whites & yolks, there were so many parts to each of the layers, and let’s not mention the flambe of the banana puree.

I also decided to make my life a whole lot easier by buying an electric mixer – was only $15 at local supermarket.

Total Ingredients (for all layers):

If you want the ingredients list for all the layers – google it, or contact me & I’ll send it to you

  • 12 eggs total (3 separated eggs & 9 egg whites)
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 30g vegetable shortening (Copha)
  • 45ml vegetable oil (I didn’t have any oil so I replaced it with same amount vegetable shortening)
  • 170 plain flour
  • 660g sugar
  • 100ml milk & 15ml extra (I needed to add a bit more milk to my sponge than the recipe stated)
  • 185ml double cream (smallest size was 300ml so I used it all)
  • 5g baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 60g skinless hazelnuts (smallest size was 125g so I used it all – also couldn’t find skinless so had to skin them myself – instructions below)
  • 250g very ripe bananas (got a special bucket of double that amount so used it all)
  • 15g brown sugar
  • 25ml rum
  • White chocolate (for tube) – I used milk chocolate because I had forgotten to buy white chocolate
  • 750g frozen raspberries – let them thaw in fridge
  • 100g fructose
  • 10g vodka
  • 15g Orange marmalade (which totally slipped my mind)

Note: I doubled the parfait ingredients because I had leftover hazelnuts/bananas/double cream/etc. The original quantity quoted above is enough to make 1 large Baked Alaska.

Note: Some of the quantities are too high – I had heaps & heaps of sorbet and swiss meringue

Ordering:

This is the order that I made everything in:

  1. Sponge Base
  2. Chocolate tube
  3. Raspberry Sorbet
  4. Caramelised hazelnuts (including taking skins off hazelnuts)
  5. Banana puree
  6. Banana parfait
  7. Swiss meringue
  8. Frying sponge base
  9. Compilation

Phew, that’s all folks.

Method:

Sponge base

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C
  2. Melt 60g of butter & clarify it (when it’s melted & browned, releasing a nutty smell, skim the crap off the top & then strain it)
  3. Add the vegetable shortening & vegetable oil & melt
  4. Mix 3 egg yolks & slowly add the butter/oil mixture drop by drop like you would in mayonnaise – it needs to emulsify & thicken, then let it cool in the fridge
  5. Sift flour, 100g sugar, salt & baking powder
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the “mayonnaise” & mix until everything is combined – it should be crumbly
  7. Add 100ml milk & mix slowly (I had to add an extra 15ml of milk because my sponge wasn’t liquid enough)
  8. Whisk 3 egg whites on high speed for a minute, add 100g sugar & whisk until you’ve got stiff peaks
  9. Mix 1/3 of whites into the egg yolk batter, then fold the rest in with a spatula – don’t over-mix, you want it to be fluffy
  10. Stick it in the oven for 25 mins – my oven needed about an hour
  11. Put it on a cake rack (or improv cake rack) to cool

Chocolate tube (for Raspberry Sorbet)

  1. Melt about 50g choc in bain-marie (bowl over pot of simmering water – bowl should NOT touch water) – I used a lot more, but made 3 tubes & then turned the rest into a hot chocolate 😉
    Note: Don’t forget to trim them to fit into your Baked Alaska
  2. Prepare some tube molds – I made mine with paper outside & grease-proof paper inside tube – if you’ve got hard plastic, that’d work
  3. Cover the base of the moulds with clingfilm
  4. Pour in the chocolate, then turn the tube until the entire inside is covered & tip it out
  5. Chuck it in the freezer to set

Raspberry Sorbet

Note: I didn’t have a food processor or an ice cream maker – an ice cream maker would be handy though.

Note: Also, you do not need 750g raspberries to make a tube – you could probably get away with 100g & adjust other quantities accordingly – or have sorbet in the freezer to eat – BUT this sorbet has a very intense flavour so I don’t recommend eating it on it’s own – it’s perfect with the baked alaska but you need something to break up the intensity

  1. After the raspberries have thawed, mix them in a food processor, or in my case, I mashed them with a fork
  2. Strain the raspberries to get out all the seeds
  3. Add fructose & vodka
  4. Put in ice cream maker, then when it’s solid, pipe it into your chocolate tube
  5. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you will feel some pain. Put your sorbet liquid in the freezer, then every 30-45 mins, go to freezer, churn it by hand with a whisk (to break any large ice crystals forming), then repeat until you’ve got a firm sorbet. When it was almost set, I poured it into my choc tubes
  6. Wrap the other end in clingfilm to prevent any leaks & freeze until needed

Banana parfait

  1. Roast hazelnuts in 1 layer in your oven at 180°C for about 20 mins
  2. Leave to rest for at least 30 mins (the skins will crack & loosen)
  3. Rub the cooled hazelnuts in a tea towel to remove most of the skin – don’t worry about being a perfectionist
  4. Throw the now skinless hazelnuts into a pan & tip over 60g sugar
  5. Melt & caramelise sugar, making sure all hazelnuts are covered, then spread it out in 1 layer on grease-proof paper to cool – careful as it’s very hot & retains a lot of heat
  6. Once it’s cooled, break it into a few bits, then wrap in another tea towel & bash it into tiny bits (or use a food processor)
  7. Peel your bananas (duh!) then slice them approx 5mm thickness.
  8. Throw them into a pan which contains 10g melted butter & brown sugar & cook until golden
  9. Time for flambe – pour rum into the pan & (I used a lit bamboo skewer) set the vapours aflame
    Note: Be VERY careful with flambe – if you’re not confident, don’t do it!!
  10. Let the flame burn out, then mix & scrape the bottom of the pan, making sure you get all the brown bits on the bottom – they are pure flavour
  11. Pass through a sieve & fridge until needed
  12. Lightly whip the double cream and then fridge until needed
  13. Whip 3 egg whites on high, then lower speed and gradually add 120g caster sugar until you’ve got soft peaks
  14. Fold whipped cream, banana puree, caramelised hazelnuts & egg whites together
  15. Fill half your mold, then grab a chocolate/raspberry sorbet tube & carefully stick it in the middle
  16. Cover the tube & continue filling the mould with banana parfait – try not to leave air pockets
  17. Freeze until needed

Note: The best part of the Baked Alaska for me was the banana parfait – if nothing else, make only this and you will be a happy camper

Swiss Meringue

What is a swiss meringue? It’s sort of like a normal meringue except it starts off on a bain-marie.

Note: You could easily cover 1 Baked Alaska with half this much meringue – I would recommend halving the recipe

  1. Whisk 6 eggs whites in bain marie. Heston said until they reach 60°C but I just did it until they were very warm
  2. Take it off the heat & slowly mix in 280g sugar
  3. Put it in a piping bag and then you’re ready to assemble

Assemblage

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C
  2. Trim & slice the sponge, then fry both sides in some hot butter in the pan until golden
  3. Place the sponge in a baking tray & slather on some marmalade (oops, forgot the marmalade)
  4. Top with the banana parfait
  5. Pipe on swiss meringue
    Note: I would highly recommend spreading a thin  layer of meringue over the whole thing first, that way when you do your decorative piping, there won’t’ be any gaps for the parfait to slip out of (like mine)
  6. Cook until the meringue browns or use a blow-torch to give it colour
  7. Flambe – douse the top with some rum & set it on fire
    Note: As always, when there’s fire, only do it if you’re confident and careful

It’s so good and tasty, the raspberry insides go extremely well with the banana parfait and the sponge, although on the sweet side, tastes divine.

*sigh*

It was well worth the effort, but it probably won’t be something I attempt again for a long time.

The banana parfait though – I will keep making that as it was just so phenominally tasty 😀

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5 Responses to “RECIPE – Heston Blumenthal’s Perfect Baked Alaska”

  1. Irene Evans Says:

    I also have made this baked alaska over a couple of days. Yes, it’s incredibly time consuming and involves loads of work and washing up! More work and washing up for me because I made a mistake halfway through the sponge (added too much milk) and had to start again. At the end of the day it worked out really well – but guess what? I didn’t like it. I loved the banana parfait but the sweet, sticky meringue overpowered it. Also, I didn’t feel the sponge was much better than an all-in-one, certainly not enough to warrant all the extra processes involved. I too, would definitely make the banana parfait again – but as for the rest – forget it.
    My husband loved the whole alaska, but he won’t be getting it again.

  2. Hello, Not sure how I ended up at your blog but so happy I did. Amazing! I would love to try making this bombe alaska and wondered whether you could please send me the total list of ingredients, as mentioned in your post. I would greatly appreciate it. Now I am looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thank you for a wonderful blog,
    Angela

  3. Irene Evans Says:

    Hello – I’m only a guest on this blog and hope I’m not interfering, but here’s the link for Heston’s Baked Alaska.
    http://www.recipes4us.co.uk/Heston%20Blumenthal%20Baked%20Alaska%20Step%201.htm
    It will take you through all the steps. Hope you’ve got a lot of time on your hands …..

  4. […] Monitor Muncher – A personal hero of ours and someone whose tackled a lot of the more complicated … […]

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