This is the first flavour our dad churned, sampled and perfected in the old dairy barn at home. It's still his favourite and it's our best-selling scoop. An out-and-out classic, vanilla is the foundation of many an ice cream recipe, so it's more than worth getting it right. Once you have mastered this, you'll have a friend for life that you can adapt for a whole world of flavour experimentation.
MAKES 1 LITRE (1¾ PINTS)
300ml (½ pint) double cream
300ml (½ pint) whole milk
1 vanilla pod, slit in half lengthways
A pinch of salt
6 medium egg yolks
100g (3½ oz) golden caster sugar
Pour the cream and milk into a small saucepan. Use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and into the cream, along with the empty pod. Place the saucepan over a very gentle heat for 8-10 minutes and, when the cream is almost boiling, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes, allowing the vanilla to flavour the milk.
Meanwhile, using a wooden spoon, beat the salt, egg yolks and sugar together in a large mixing bowl for 2-3 minutes until light and uniform.
Remove the pod from the warm cream mixture and, working slowly, pour the mixture into the sugared yolks and continue to beat together until all is combined. Return the lot to a clean saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, for up to 10 minutes. The mixture will eventually thicken to a custard consistency, just thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. At this point, remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl (this prevents any further cooking). Set aside to cool for an hour.
Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn to a soft set following the manufacturer's instructions, or until the blade stops. Spoon the soft ice cream into an airtight, freezer-proof container. Cover and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until firm.
Remove from the freezer and allow the ice cream to soften for 5-10minutes before scooping.
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