What is the essence of the book?
I’m always a little sceptical about books that claim to be ‘definitive guides’. My inner critic whispers ‘well they would say that wouldn’t they’. But in fairness to Caroline and Robin Weir it’s hard to believe they have left any stone unturned in the realm of ice cream and its various guises. This is far more than a recipe book. The first 80 odd pages or so cover the history of ice cream and how it was served through to the equipment needed to make ices. Then follows an extensive array of recipes (over 400 to be precise), listed rather helpfully from A-Z, covering pretty much everything from your bog standard vanilla through to savoury flavours like parmesan ice cream. And should you fail to find an ice that takes your fancy there’s even a section towards the end of the book on the science of ices to help you effectively devise your own.
About the author
Caroline’s background is in food writing, photography and teaching. Her husband Robin is the managing director of a pharmaceutical distribution company although he gives lectures on ice cream making from the 17th century to the present day all over the world. The Definitive Guide was originally published fifteen years ago but has been updated to be even more comprehensive than the first edition.
Who will like it?
Anyone who enjoys dabbling and experimenting with homemade ices should really buy this book. With Christmas looming on the not-too-distant horizon it would make a great gift.
Who won’t like it?
If the very thought of a book on ice cream sets your teeth on edge then this probably isn’t for you.
What do I like about the book?
At the risk of sounding obvious, I love the history element to it. It begins by debunking the myths behind the inception of frozen desserts which is a great starting point for any definitive guide. I also like the fact that modern recipes (like Heston’s liquorice ice cream) are interspersed with historical ones like The Prince of Wales Ice Cream.
Is there anything I’m not so keen on?
Unless you have some idea of what you are looking for there is a lot of material to wade through. There could be a danger of information overload for some people (although granted you don’t have to read the early sections in order to make any of the recipes) especially if you are just starting to make ice cream at home.
Would I cook from it?
Despite what I’ve said above, I would definitely make recipes from this book. Overall, I think it’s a valuable and inspirational source of historic and inventive recipes. And it’s great value too. Mr Whippy will never seem the same again.
Where can you buy it?