Mix It Up: Breadcrumbs in Ice Cream

By: Jeni Britton Bauer

Your job as an ice cream maker is to make unforgettable flavors. By combining ingredients that are iconic, and retooling classic combinations, you arrive at ice cream that becomes the main event. Each ice cream has many components that contribute to its character - color, crunch, cream, scent. All of those add up to create the sensory experience of the flavor - but it’s more than that, it becomes a personality. You create the personality of an ice cream by mixing and matching the base ice cream flavor with exciting sauces or bits that are added after the ice cream freezes in the canister machine.

What I love is that subtle tweaks to a recipe can alter the whole theme of the ice cream - and that changes what you believe about it and has a big affect on how you perceive the flavor. One of my favorite additions to ice cream is simple bread crumbs. I usually double toast them, and when added to ice cream they absorb the sugar syrup in the cream and become soft and cake-like. You can do a lot with bread. Consider the personality of these three similar, but very different ice creams, each made by adding toasted bread crumbs to the ice cream and layering jam throughout:

Toasted Brioche with Butter and Jam

Toasted brioche crumbs sprinkled throughout butter ice cream with a swirl of black currant jam

It’s all breakfast in bed at the Ritz Carlton, marble table tops, Givenchy. I originally made the ice cream as a part of the Marie Antoinette collection I did some years ago. It’s still fun, even a little funny, but it evokes something more haute than hoi polloi. You’d probably sit up a little straighter when you eat this, and not even know it. It doesn’t just taste good, it makes you feel good in a very specific way.

Peanut Butter and Jelly on White

Toasted Wonder-bread crumbs sprinkled throughout peanut butter ice cream with concord grape jelly

It’s more Princess Leia lunch box than breakfast at Versailles.You can imagine where you would serve this - a reunion of your old fourth grade gang (Rick Springfield accompanies)? Or, if you are from Columbus, as I am, you might just want to be nostalgic for the old Wonder bread plant downtown, with its huge, iconic neon sign that lit up our city for a half a century. Perhaps some local artists want to make the big old abandoned bakery into a something super cool, and you do this flavor as a fundraiser to support the effort. It’s all about transporting people. And it feels good in a whole different way than the above flavor - this one is nostalgic. It’s warm, goofy, fun, and it tells a story.

Loveless Cafe Butter Biscuits and Homemade Peach Jam

Toasted, crumbled Loveless biscuits mixed into butter ice cream with fresh peach jam

This is how an ice cream becomes a story about your travels. If you’ve ever been to the Loveless Cafe - well, their biscuits are number one. They are little, yellow, come on a plate of three with homemade jams. I’ve tried to figure out the secret in my own kitchen, and failed every time. But, then I discovered that they make a biscuit mix! And it’s great. So, I made a butter ice cream, crumbled the biscuits and toasted them, threw those in with some fresh peach jam swirled throughout. Love. Now you’re feeling like some sweet tea. That’s the power of flavor to transport. And it’s all about the story!

Another take on breadcrumbs in ice cream? Brown bread and treacle ice cream is a staple in Irish shops. The same ice cream can be re-imagined a million and one different ways. Just toast the bread, break it up (or crush it in a food processor) and then toast it in the oven again. Sprinkle one to two cups into the finished ice cream as you pull it from your machine.

See how easy that is?

Jeni Britton Bauer has created ice creams for more than 15 years and opened her first ice cream shop, Scream, in 1996. Seeking a change, Jeni founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002 with the help of her business partner and husband Charly. Her cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, is a New York Times best-selling cookbook has been dubbed “the homemade-ice cream-making Bible” by The Wall Street Journal. When Jeni isn’t developing new flavors, she devotes time to Local Matters, as well as reading, painting at her kitchen table, sewing, drinking wine, cooking, and making big messes with her husband and two children at their home in Columbus.

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