Gelato: a surprise for the palate to taste the Italian flavor

Ice cream, the king of summer, beloved Italian and foreign dessert, is a delicacy of Italian birth. Although it has very ancient origins, to date every master ice cream maker puts his ingenuity and inventiveness to create ever new tastes.

The great classics such as chocolate, pistachio and fiordilatte (cream) ice creams are accompanied by exotic flavors, that are the result of the imagination of the most imaginative ice cream masters. So you can find ice creams with cuttlefish ink, with hints of wine, the taste of bread, beer or rose petals. In this field imagination has no limits, if it is true that exists also the lasagna flavor…

As often happens, when it comes to inventions, everyone is ready to grab the credit, but in this case the first form of ice cream is very old … Let’s see the story and the recipe together!

Gelato: a bit of history

The first ice cream cup was found in a tomb of the 2nd dynasty in Egypt. It was a kind of mold formed by two silver cups: in one there was the snow or crushed ice, in the other cooked fruit. In ancient Roman times, ice was chopped and sweetened with honey and just after it was sold. The Arabs in the first millennium prepared cold drinks with cherries, quinces and pomegranates: it is the reason why the word sorbet derives from the Arabic sharab, that is to say sip, drink. According to the legend, the true recipe for ice cream, however, was perfected in Florence during the Renaissance age.

The Medici family organized a competition for the most original dishes. Ruggeri won this competition with a recipe of a cold mixture of water, sugar and fruit: a sort of current granita or cremolata. Following the same tradition it seems that it was Caterina de ‘Medici herself who, due to the wedding with the Duke of Orleans (the future Henry II) brought Ruggeri with her.

Another legend, instead, sees the master of the primitive ice cream the architect Bernardo Buontalenti who, for the King of Spain, Charles V, and during the inauguration party of Forte Belvedere by Cosimo I de Medici in 1559, made something original for that time. He prepared a cold cream based on milk, honey , egg yolk, slightly divine, all flavored with bergamot, lemons and oranges. This is certainly the basis of the so-called Florentine cream or Buontalenti ice cream that can still be tasted in Florence. It also seems that, as a good architect, Buontalenti built a machine made up of shovels that turned by crank to whisk the compound and a central cylinder into which ice was inserted.

Also in Sicily a flourishing ice industry was born: natural pits were filled with snow in winter and then sold in blocks in the summer. It was a Sicilian cook, Francesco Procopio de ’Coltelli who, by emigrating to Paris, opened a famous café, the Café Procope. Here he strove with his “frozen waters” replacing the honey with the sugar and adding salt to the ice to cool the preparations faster. In his menu, besides the frozen waters, the forerunners of granita, there were anise flowers, ice cream with lemon juice, ice cream with orange juice and strawberry sorbet.

They were so good to attract famous intellectuals of the time including: Voltaire, George Sand, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Diderot, D’Alembert, De Musset, Dr. Guillotin and, they say, even Napoleon, who one night decided to pledged his bicorn (the famous hat he appears in many paintings) for not having had the money to pay for the ice cream offered to his friends!

In the seventeenth century, the first well-coded recipes for the preparation of sorbets arrived from the head chef of a Spanish viceroy in Naples, Antonio Latini. One of these is the “milk sorbet”, evidence of the evolution of the simple sorbet: it was necessary to cook a carafe of milk, sugar and water, decorate with candied citron and pumpkin and then freeze. According to some historians of gastronomy, this sorbet is the first real ice cream in history.

It was in the eighteenth century that ice cream landed in America, brought by Giovanni Basiolo, who introduced the semifreddo of caffelatte, typical flavors of the city of Genoa. George Washington used to serve ice cream at parties and meetings.

In the nineteenth century Nancy M. Johnson created and patented a crank machine to make ice cream (artificial freezer), a first ice cream maker.

It was the birth of the ice cream cone by Italo Marchioni in 1896 which began selling the first pods, then filing the patent in 1903. 

Throughout the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century, homemade gelato was made with manual machines, pouring ice and salt into the cavity, which lowered the temperature, while constantly turning the crank until the mixture was firmed. The Bolognese Otello Cattabriga devised a mechanical system that imitated, automating it, the “detach and spread” system typical of the processing in hand-whipped machines. His idea of ​​applying a motor to the spatula with which the ice cream is mixed is so successful that, from the shop in Via Mazzini he had, he started producing “electric motor-ice-cream makers” and became famous all over the world.

Despite the twentieth century was the century of mass culture, the artisan ice cream with its techniques and its care of the ingredients, continued to live alongside the new technologies. It remains however a very pleasant food, characteristic and ready to open the barriers of taste.

Let’s see how to make ice cream together.

Gelato: the recipe

A good ice cream must have the right balance between the body, spread ability, chewiness and sweetness and to not be too cold because the cold numbs the taste buds and cover the taste. To achieve this balance, the ice cream balances all the ingredients for the recipe with of complex mathematical calculations….

But what are the ingredients of ice cream?

Sugars:  lower the freezing temperature and sweeten the mixture. In patisserie are used different types of sugars because each has some particular features.

  • Sucrose/ granulated Sugar: comes in crystalline form. It is the sugar base of which has the sweetening power of 100.
  • Dextrose: It occurs in the form of “dusty”, has a sweetening power of 75 and can replace sucrose in a percentage between 10% and 20%. It is used for several reasons: it has easy assimilation, brings out the aromas, it has an excellent melting and makes the ice cream softer.
  • Invert sugar: it comes in a liquid form has a sweetening power equal to 130 and can replace sucrose in a percentage between 10% and 20%. It is very useful for stabilise the structure, it  reduces the oxidation process in the materials to which it is in contact, keeps the softness of the ice cream, and is very soluble; in contrast, lowers the freezing point.

Fats: they give body, softness to the structure and quality of the product. Make the ice cream creamy in the right doses. These elements are present in milk and especially in the cream, which must have a fat percentage of 35%.

Milk: condensed or in powder. The first one is used less because it costs more and can be kept for a shorter time.

Emulsifiers and stabilisers: neutral, hot/cold or, more commonly, the carob seed flour, which improves the body, texture and stability.

Other: eggs, aromas, water, air.

According to the following recipe, the ice-cream maker makes the calculation of the POD and CAP. The first one will reveal how much the ice cream will be sweet, while the second will reveal the temperature of ideal service.

The basics of ice cream are the three “yellow base (base egg)”, “white base (milk base)”, “fruit base“.

The production phases are 4:

  • Mixing

In this phase, liquids, sugars, fats, and stabilizers are mixed together inside the pasteurizer. The liquids should be mixed up all together first cold and after warmed up. When the mixture has reached 40°C, the powders will be added.

  • Pasteurization

As we well know, pasteurization is the process that destroys  most of the pathogens. Once pasteurized, the mixture is left to “mature” , to relax for 12 hours.

  • Incorporation

In this phase, the ice cream will be put freezing, through a machine called a batch freezer. Within this machine are happening 2 phenomena very important for the ice-cream: the freezing of the mixture, and the incorporation of air. The last one is a fundamental ingredient of the ice cream because it makes it voluminous (overrun), “almost mounted”. The overrun is the ideal ice cream never drops below 20% and even 45%.

  • The lowering of the temperature

The ice cream when it is extracted from the batch freezer has a temperature of around -6/-8°C and if it is not cooled further it tends to collapse:

It takes about ten minutes in the blast chiller negative to stabilize the ice cream in the bowl, creating a sort of icy crust that protects the ice cream and the overrun (air incorporated).

At this point, it is ready to be placed in the store window.

Usually the ice cream would keep it at -13/-16°C to have maximum spread ability without losing the structure.

For this reason, the ice cream in your freezer it becomes very hard: just for the fact that it is not balanced for freezers at -18°C.

 

White Base

370 gr of milk

250 gr of cream

130 g granulated sugar

20 gr dextrose

100 gr condensed milk

1 g carob seed flour

First of all, mix the powder ingredients, sugar, milk powder, dextrose and carob seed flour. Combine the milk and the cream, put them on the fire to heat up to a slight boil, and pour over the ingredients in the powder, stirring with a whisk, until you have a homogeneous mixture without lumps. Put everything back on the heat, and bring to a temperature of 85°C (temperature high pasteurization). Turn off the heat and emulsify.

 

Yellow base

210 gr of Milk

70 gr of cream

20 gr of yolks

250 gr of sugar

50 gr of Dextrose

1 gr carob seed Flour

The first thing to do is to beat the egg yolks with the two types of sugar until the mixture is creamy and light. Pour gradually the milk and the cream, boiling the mixture, stirring with a whisk and being careful not to create too much foam. Put the mixture on the fire at a moderate heat, stirring constantly with a spatula. Bring the mixture to a temperature of 80 – 85 °C, remove from the fire and emulsify.

 

Fruit sorbet or sherbet

220g of Water

80g of Sucrose

60g of Dextrose

Juice of 1 lemon

350g of Fruit

1 g carob seed Flour

As a first thing mix together powders. Prepare the syrup by heating the water with the powders. Heat the syrup for 2-3 minutes at 80°C to make the carob seed flour act. Soak the lemon peel (if present among the ingredients) for 5 min. Remove the peel from the syrup and blend it with the fruit. Let mixture cool in the refrigerator 6 to 12 hours.

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