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Has anyone made an ice cream cake?

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I am hosting a large birthday party and thinking of making an ice cream cake. Ideally I will make it in a pan that is just the right size for my smallish freezer to hold. Is this risky? Can anyone advise? I am thinking of baking the cake, freezing it, slicing it, and filling it with ice cream and refreezing right in the baking pan to keep its shape.

What about icing? It looks like softened ice cream will work fine. Any suggestions as to flavor?

Thank you Chowhounds!


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  1. I've done it in a springform pan so it holds its shape and you can remove the edge instead of trying to turn it out. I would bake, cool completely, slice and layer with the ice cream and then freeze. As frosting goes, buttercream works but I haven't found anything I love. Don't use chocolate ganache, though--it hardens too quickly and is hard to cut when it's frozen.

    1. I've done one before... it was a cake with all layered ice creams and a fudge filling... no actual cake involved. but i don't think that would be much different. I made mine in a springform pan and that was great because rather than dealing with unmolding the whole thing I could just release the sides and place it on a platter. alternatively, if you're using a regular baking pan or loaf pan, you can line it with plastic wrap before placing in your cake and ice cream layers... just leave an overhang on either side so you can easily lift it out.

      as far as frosting goes, i used a ganache and found it easy to work with and very pretty. softened ice cream might get messy after the cake has been out of the freezer for upwards of 10 minutes. just a thought...

      1. For icing I've used whipped cream, sweetened and flavoured (if appropriate) to go with the cake. It's easy to cut through, doesn't get too hard and thaws more quickly than the inner ice cream so has a nice texture when serving.

        And I've always done mine in a springform pan. After baking the cake and removing the sides, I reassemble the pan and line it with plastic wrap. Split the cake in two layers - fill with ice cream and let it freeze solid. Then remove the sides and plastic and frost with whipped cream (on top and sides) then freeze again. It's a bit of a multi-step process but doesn't take as long to do as it does to explain.

        1. If you're interested in Wow factor, develop a puff pastry ring (or several small ones) and cut them in half along their circumference. Load the bottom half with ice cream (softened just a bit to make it easier to work with, put the top half on and cover it with ice cream and top it all off with whipped cream and fresh fruit (like peaches or strawberries)
          Keep it in the freezer (covered of course) until about ten minutes before ready to serve.
          There are countless recipes for puff pastry rings on the Internet so you can select whichever best suits your needs.
          I make them often and have never failed to get congratulatory comments and smiles from my guests.

          1. I made an ice cream cake for my brother's birthday and baked a quarter sheet chocolate cake. I cut the cake on the diagonal, put chocolate mint ice cream between the layers and topped it with homemade hot fudge sauce. If you work with the cake frozen, it will keep its shape. I let cake cool for a while, then wrap in plastic and put in the freezer--out of the pan. By the way, my brother's cake was delicious.

            1. I made one around the holidays. I used chocolate cake, mixed crushed peppermint candies into vanilla ice cream for the filling, and then "frosted" with plain vanilla ice cream and decorated with more candies. Honestly, the thing was a total pain in the @ss. It was my first one, too. And I would totally do it again, but here's what I would do differently:

              1) Just use one layer of cake and cut that in half. I used two layers (one whole recipe for a layer cake) and it was WAY too much cake and was really hard to use.

              2) I also got the tip here about the springform pan. I used it, but it didn't really work because I had so much cake. But if I'd gotten the cake right, this definitely would have been the way to go. I could tell it makes the whole thing much easier. If you don't want to serve on the springform pan bottom, line it with parchment you can peel off.

              3) Leave yourself plenty of TIME! I was rushed, and that was a very bad thing. I suggest baking the cake 2 days before. Slice it the day before and freeze it. That night, layer the ice cream and freeze the whole thing. The next morning, frost and freeze again for at least 4 hours before serving.

              Hope that helps! Good luck!

              1. Having a May birthday, my birthday cake was usually a multi layer ice cream cake that Mom made in a spring form pan lined with Ladyfingers (the soft kind) and served with homemade chocolate sauce. Her one rule, learmed from experience; no mint ice cream. The flavor overwhelms everything else.

                1. Ice cream wants to slide off cake rather quickly as an icing. I reccomend a butter cream , whipped cream or a mousse. Mosse works really well - and freezes great

                  1. I would suggest finding a recipe to follow. Martha Stewart has lots of ice cream confections or bombes. I've made a few, and they always ellicit lots of guest excitement. More than they're worth, I think, and feel a little guilty taking the praise.

                    Anyhow, a few things to remember...you need lots of time for each layer to set up. You'll probably want to put the icecream in the stand mixer to soften first.

                    for example:


                    1. Have you thought of an ice cream roll? You can make two and get creative. Using thin jelly roll pan with angel food cake, cool, then roll with ice cream inside, then frost. I did one and everyone loved it.
                      There are a bunch of recipes - this one looks nice:

                      1. If you really want a "cheater".....try the ice cream sandwich dessert....It's easy to put together...can make to any size....looks like you've layered cake/wafers and ice cream!! see allrecipes.com for a couple of variations. This is more "ice cream dessert" than a cake, but goes over big!

                        1. Made & designed too many to think about professionally, so here are my tips:

                          *Make sure your freezer is at the proper temp & avoid opening it during the process
                          *Use a springform pan
                          *Use half a layer of cake as your base, place cake "sticky" side up so it doesn't freeze to removable bottom
                          *Place cake layer in pan and pack it down with your fingers, use extra cake to create a seal around the edges, otherwise the ice cream will fill in the voids & show through frosting
                          *Use ice cream directly from your ice cream maker or softened but not runny
                          *Run a spatula across the top to make sure the ice cream is even & level, place a piece of deli wrap on top to protect it from drips in freezer & for depanning (put hand on deli wrap & flip cake upside down, use spatula to take off removable bottom of pan)
                          *When depanning, put pan in a bowl of tepid water for approx. 3-5 seconds, won't need plastic wrap liner and will come out easily, put back in freezer for an hour
                          *Bettercreme or ganache are good choices, if using commercial Bettercreme make sure you whip it prior to using, ganache is more time consuming since it needs to be put on in two layers and frozen between each layer, this will give you the smooth, shiny finish you want
                          *Ice cream cake needs to be completely decorated in 10 minutes, if this is a first attempt I'd frost it, put back in the freezer for at least an hour and then decorate

                          Ice cream cupcakes are fun too! Biggest difference is you want the "sticky" side of the cake down to hold it to the liner & they are much quicker to decorate.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: oldbaycupcake

                            How do you keep the ganache from freezing and hardening quickly when you put it on ice cream? That was the challenge I had--the second it touched the ice cream, it hardened but it didn't stick to the ice cream. And, once it's frozen, I found it hard to cut. Thanks!

                            1. re: chowser

                              Sounds like your ganache wasn't at the proper temp, probably too cool or that the layer was too thick. It's all about temperature when dealing with ganache!

                              You want to do the ganache in two layers. Put the cake on a wire rack in a sheet pan. The "crumb layer" is the first layer and should be done at a lower temperature (approx. 85-89 degrees) than the top layer. For the crumb layer, use a small spatula to smooth any rough edges of the ice cream cake. Ice the sides with the ganache in a thin layer. Re-freeze.

                              The second layer should be done at a higher temperature (10-20 degrees higher depending on the brand) so that the ganache is pourable. It's important to get the proper temp so that it looks right and not too hot to melt the ice cream. Place cake on wire rack again. Pour ganache over the top & let run down the sides. Make sure that you resist the temptation to ice the cake with the ganache on the second layer! That actually causes more problems than it solves. Re-freeze. When done properly the finish should be smooth and shiny.

                              Another good tip is to use the same size cake round as the cake (8" cake = 8" round) when using ganache. Once the second layer is set you can put the cake on a larger cake round to decorate or transport. The sheet pan will collect the excess ganache, you can freeze it for the first layer of your next cake, but always use fresh product for the second/top layer. Hope this helps. Cheers!

                              1. re: oldbaycupcake

                                I'll have to give this another try with cake on top. My top layer was ice cream (my son wanted a Baskin Robbins type cake w/ cake on the bottom, ice cream on top) so the minute the ganache hit the ice cream, it hardened. It would pourable consistency, about the level you'd use for a regular cake (and works great on regular cake) but maybe a little hotter would have worked better. What do you mean by 10-20 degrees, depending on the brand? Brand of what? LOL, I always use a sheet pan below to collect the ganache--never to use on the second layer but to eat.;-) I need to use home made ice cream next time, too, as you mentioned. It sounds great. Thanks for your help.

                                Oh, one more thing--are you using traditional ganache, eg. cream and chocolate, or a ganche frosting? Thanks again.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I'm a cheater....I use commercial ganache that is made to my company specs. It comes in pre-made, frozen and is a traditional recipe. Similar products are sold by retailers, like Williams Sonoma.

                                  Like your son, I don't like a top layer of cake on an ice cream cake. They rarely turn out level for me & I hate to carve frozen cake! Ganache can be poured right over the top of an ice cream cake as long as it's at the advised temperature without damaging it.

                                  If you use homemade ice cream, dispense the ice cream right into your pan and freeze. You'll eliminate air pockets that sometimes happen by using softened ice cream. Cheers!

                                  1. re: oldbaycupcake

                                    I'll give it a try and report back when I do. I'd written off ganache as a possible topping but am excited that it can work. Thanks!

                          2. I might be a bit late weighing in on this. I used to make an all-ice cream cake that was very simple but delicious and very pretty when sliced. It was basically a dressed up version of spumoni. I used a Bundt pan. Steps were:

                            1) Soften a quart (or more) of premium vanilla ice cream. Fold in about a half cup chopped maraschino cherries and rum flavoring to taste. Pack around sides of pan and freeze till hard.

                            2) Soften a quart of premium chocolate ice cream. Fold in about 1/3 cup of toasted chopped almonds. Pack around the vanilla layer. Freeze hard.

                            3) Soften a pint of premium pistachio ice cream. Pack around chocolate layer. Freeze hard.

                            4) Soften a pint of premium raspberry sorbet. Pack around pistachio layer. Alternatively, fold a thawed package of frozen raspberries into a pint of vanilla ice cream and use instead of sorbet. Freeze hard.

                            5) Unmold hard frozen ice cream. Frost with 1 1/2 pints cream, whipped and sweetened. Decorate with raspberries, shaved chocolate, and/or toasted almonds. Return to freezer till needed to serve.

                            Exact quantities of ice cream are hard to give. Some brands, even premium, have more air whipped into them and thus pack down differently. So buy a little extra ice cream...you can always treat the cook to the leftovers...:-)

                            1. Just made my first (and second) cakes. I used a springform pan for the first and a regular round cake pan lined with saran wrap for the second.

                              My daughter wanted a Kung Fu Panda theme so everything was black and white (2 parties so 2 cakes). The bottom layer was chocolate cake. Followed by a chocolate ice-cream layer, then chocolate chip, the vanilla ice-cream for the top. I didn't ice it. On the first cake, I tried to use the vanilla ice-cream to "ice" the sides but it kept blending with the chocolate ice-cream creating a dirty effect. The second cake, I just crushed oreo cookies and used the crumbs to ice the sides.

                              I don't know if I'd use a cake layer next time...I thought it was kind of dry. Perhaps a cookie crumb crust instead.

                              1. I sometimes have trouble trying to release a frozen springform pan. I use waxed freezer paper (heavier than parchment) along with a stapler and create a mold around the cake base. After the cake is frozen you just peel the paper away from the cake. I also use a whipped cream to ice the cake. Decorate with toasted coconut since you can not take a lot of time icing the cake before it melts. Also, buy ice cream that you can peel the wrapper off and slice the ice cream to make it easier to assemble the cake (you don't have to let the ice cream soften thus creating an icy texture in your cake).