Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Frozen Cake Batter Custard

For Memorial Day, my cousins and I decided to try a hand at homemade cake batter ice cream. The final result was, as one of them put it, "better than Ted Drewes", but not necessarily cost-effective given the ingredients, effort, and equipment involved. While some basic ingredient costs are unavoidable, the cake batter mix is somewhat negotiable. I'm on a quest to cut back on processed foods in my diet anyhow, and so, I decided to see if making the custard completely from scratch would save anything. Here's the final cost breakdown per quart:

Commercial Cost:$10 (estimated)
Semi-Homemade Cost:$3.75
Homemade Cost:$3.25

The final conclusion is that making the cake batter mix from scratch doesn't save very much over its semi-homemade counterpart. With that said, it's one less item to purchase and one less "bulk" bag to keep in the pantry until you find a way to use it up. You also get to escape all of the preservatives that keep the commercial mixes stable at room temperature. Don't ask me about the calorie count; I get an anxiety attack just thinking about it.

Of note, there is the potential for the cost to drop even further with cheaper ingredients. I chose to use cage-free eggs and organic milk and butter since the regular stuff makes my skin itch.

Here's the final recipe.:

Frozen Cake Batter Custard

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours

Cake Batter Mix
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cubed

  • Cake Batter Mix
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Combine all cake batter mix ingredients in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar together until yolks start to lighten.
  3. Pour all ingredients into a 3 quart saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Heat custard, whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the batter should thicken and become smooth. DO NOT BOIL.
  5. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  6. Refrigerate for at least two hours until custard is cold.
  7. Pour the chilled custard into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your machine.
  8. Freeze in refrigerator for at least four hours.

Makes 8 servings.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

I recently made the conversion over to foaming hand soap from the usual gel formulation. It spreads easier; it washes off better; and the five year old in me loves the bubbles. An article that I read months ago said something about it being better for your pipes as well. Unfortunately, each pump pulls out a greater volume — try both dispensers and you'll see. Why does this matter? Cost.

I'm a little obsessed with eco-friendly products and conservation, so two of my favorite product lines are Method and Seventh Generation. Method has a wide array of scents and colors, but 1 litre of gel hand wash costs the same amount as the foaming solution, and both are significantly costlier than, say, Softsoap. This presents a good place to cut a few corners.

Step One: Fill your foaming soap dispenser partway with your choice of gel hand wash.

Step Two: Fill to top of container with water, leaving space for the foaming mechanism. Screw on pump and shake to mix.

Some places have recommended a soap-water ratio of 1:6, but I used something closer to 1:4. It's all a guesstimate anyway, so experiment until you get the foam consistency that you want. Keep in mind that any colors in the soap will get diluted to a barely-there tint.

And there you have it. In all honesty, this project probably only saves you a quarter or so a month, and that's being generous. I feel oddly triumphant over the commercial powers that be, however, so I suppose that that counts for something.
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