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Ripple effect

A spectacular ice-cream cake is an ideal way to celebrate a New Year birthday.

The first of January has always been a very important day in my family. Not because it is New Year's Day, but because it is my sister Ruth's birthday. When I was a child, I always thought she was very lucky to have her birthday just after Christmas, when we were often on holiday at Raumati South or staying with our grandparents and aunts in Taranaki. But it also meant that Ruth's school friends weren't usually nearby, so she missed out on an ordinary birthday party. However, once she grew up, she says it wasn't so bad, after all. At New Year's Eve parties, there were always extra kisses for the birthday girl.

In honour of my sister and everyone else who celebrates a birthday in the summer holidays, here is an ice-cream cake. The only time I remember one of my friends having a commercial ice-cream cake for her birthday, I'd expected something more interesting than simply a block of ice-cream decorated with frozen pink curlicues. I've tried a bit harder than that with this recipe. The base is a thin golden cake made with egg yolks. On top of this is a thick layer of raspberry ripple made by combining homemade raspberry sherbet with commercial vanilla ice-cream. At this stage, the cake can be kept in the freezer for several days. Just before serving, it is put on a platter and covered with whipped cream, tiny meringues and fresh raspberries. And three birthday candles: one for the years past, one for the years still to come and one for this year.


Components 1 recipe raspberry sherbet; 1 recipe egg-yolk cake; 1 recipe tiny meringues; 1 litre commercial vanilla ice-cream; 1?2 cup cream, sweetened with 2 tsp icing sugar; 1 punnet fresh raspberries

Raspberry Sherbet (to be prepared at least 2 days before serving cake) 1 cup water; 1 cup sugar; 250g frozen raspberries; 1?4 cup cream

Put the water and sugar in a small saucepan over a gentle heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes to form a syrup. Set aside until cold. Take the raspberries out of the freezer and allow to thaw. When thawed, put in a processor and pulse until liquid. Place a sieve over the pot of cold syrup and pour the raspberries into it. Using a wooden spoon, press down lightly so that the seeds remain in the sieve. Add the cream to the raspberry syrup and stir. Pour into a shallow metal, plastic or glass container, cover and freeze until firm. Scrape the frozen mixture into a processor and pulse until smooth but not melted. Scrape back into the freezing container, cover and freeze until firm.

Egg-Yolk Cake (to be baked at least one day before serving) 100g standard flour; 100g caster sugar; 1 tsp baking powder; 2 egg yolks; 1?3 cup milk; 1 tsp vanilla essence; 60g butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 180?C. Line the bottom of a 24cm deep, round loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper. Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl and whisk to mix. In another smaller bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk, vanilla essence. Add this to the dry ingredients, together with the cooled melted butter. Use a hand-held electric mixer to beat the mixture for 2 minutes until smooth and light in colour. Scoop into the baking tin and bake for about 30 minutes until the cake is firm in the middle and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then tip out onto a rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, wash the cake tin and line the sides and bottom with baking paper. When the cake is cold, place it upside-down in the tin. Put the whole thing into a plastic bag and place in the freezer.

Tiny Meringues (to be prepared at least one day before serving) 2 egg whites; 100g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 130?C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the egg whites into a medium bowl and whisk with a hand-held electric mixer until snowy. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar and continue to whisk until shiny and very thick. Dab heaped teaspoonfuls of meringue onto the baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 11?2 hours, then turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven until cold. Makes 40 tiny meringues.

To Assemble Cake

Four hours or up to 3 days before serving, remove the cake and tin from the freezer. Put the raspberry sherbet and vanilla ice-cream into a large bowl and use a strong utensil such as a fish slice to slice and combine them into a chunky marbled mixture. Scoop this onto the cake in the tin and press down firmly as the mixture softens. Before it melts, cover the top with baking paper, put the whole thing in a plastic bag and return to the freezer.

Just before serving, remove the cake from the freezer and ease it out onto a serving platter. Whip the cream and icing sugar until firm and cover the top of the cake. Pile the meringues on top and scatter with fresh raspberries. Push long candles into the middle of the cake. Light the candles and serve immediately. Serves 10-12.

Although ice-cream cakes are a favourite birthday treat in hometown USA, I've never come across many recipes for them in American cookery books. But search the internet and there they are, by the dozen.