When I first heard about ice cream bread, I was as skeptical as you might be right about now. How could two ingredients (softened ice cream and self-rising flour) bake up into…bread? But when I sat down and wrote out the ingredients that make up ice cream (cream, sugar, eggs) and self-rising flour (flour, salt, baking powder), and I realized: I’d just written out an ingredient list for quick bread.
In other words, it’s a cook’s most clever shortcut to baking quick bread!
The ice cream bread experiment
I heard about the magic a talented food blogger worked with ice cream and self-rising flour, and I simply had to try it myself. I started with the Taste of Home recipe for Ice Cream Bread. It calls for:
- 1 cup butter pecan ice cream, softened
- 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
Since a friend had dropped off some Haagen-Dazs Bourbon Praline Pecan as a “thank you” for dog-sitting her pup, that’s what I used. It was frozen solid, so I microwaved it to soften the ice cream. After measuring out a cup and mixing in 3/4 cup of self-rising flour and a spoonful of sugar, I had a thick and heavy batter. I poured everything into a loaf pan and baked at 350° for 25 minutes.
The result: a super-moist, coffee-cake-like loaf. It wasn’t quite as sweet as I’d hoped, but I think that was more about the ice cream flavor than anything else. For my next ice cream bread attempt, I decided not to use any added sugar at all to be more true to the notion of using precisely two ingredients. And guess what? I couldn’t tell the difference! Neither could my teenage son or his three friends, who gobbled up both—without any toppings at all—over the course of a single day.
Then I used Cherry Garcia…
The very next day, I went out and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia because I was curious about how the bread would turn out with cherry and chocolate chunks. This time, I let the ice cream melt on its own before mixing in the flour, which created an airier, less gloppy batter. I also used no additional sugar.
The result: the chocolate sank to the bottom and caramelized slightly, while the cherries remained aloft. But more importantly, the texture was moist and tender, just like the Bourbon Praline Pecan version, although my taste-testers (same teenage boys again) said that even without the extra sugar, the taste was sweeter than they expected bread to be. I couldn’t argue.
How about store-brand butter pecan?
It wasn’t until I used a store-brand butter pecan that I really got into my ice cream bread groove. Perhaps it was the simplicity of the butter pecan flavor, or perhaps it was a slightly lower fat content, but the butter pecan version literally astounded my taste testers. “It’s like something you’d find in the bread basket at a fancy little inn upstate,” said my foodie-friend Lisa as she slathered it with soft creamy butter. (She took another slice to go before she left!) As for the teenage boys, they were content to gobble it up plain.
I decided to bake up another batch, but this time in a tart pan.
It delivered the same great taste, but it took only 20 minutes to bake because it was thinner. And a pie-shaped wedge formed the perfect base for a scoop of the same butter pecan that I’d used in the bread, plus a drizzle of dark chocolate fudge sauce. Yum!
Try these other flavor combo ideas for your next loaf of ice cream bread.
Ice cream bread is a total win, no matter what flavor! That being said, I did learn a couple things:
- I’m a fan of the simpler flavors (without ribbons or significant chunks) because the results are more predictable. You don’t have to worry about chocolate chunks falling to the bottom of the pan.
- You don’t need to add any sugar, so it’s a true two-ingredient recipe.
- For an airier texture, allow the ice cream to soften on its own rather than microwaving.
With only the two ingredients (ice cream and self-rising flour), this bakes up into a moist and tender cake-like bread with a subtle sweetness. It pairs equally well with a pat of butter, a scoop of ice cream or a heap of fresh berries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Psst…see these other surprising things you can do with a pint of ice cream!
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