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THE FRENCH-STYLE ICE CREAM

Lemon Ice Cream
• with egg yolks (custard) •

With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks.

This is a French-style ice cream which means that it contains egg yolks cooked with milk over the stovetop to make a custard. Making a custard is a little tricky but worth the effort for the velvety ice cream it creates.

In this Lemon Ice Cream, we use both the zest of the lemons (to infuse the milk) and the lemon juice to make a lemony syrup (to add during the last stages of churning). It is creamy and zingy; and as lemony as an ice cream can be. Like all our custard-based ice creams, it churns up beautifully and has a cosy mouthfeel, which makes it the perfect ice cream to enjoy when the weather is cold.

3 more ways to make this lemon ice cream:

THE EASY! Crowd-pleasing and easy to make. Eat now, thank us later. With lemons, milk, cream, and sugar.

THE ITALIAN WAY. This is your hot weather ice cream: easy to make, and resistant to melting. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and corn starch.

LIKE A PRO. The closest you can get to an eggless store-bought ice cream with just one extra ingredient: xanthan gum. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and  xanthan gum.

THE EASY! Crowd-pleasing and easy to make. Eat now, thank us later. With lemons, milk, cream, and sugar.

THE ITALIAN WAY. This is your hot weather ice cream: easy to make, and resistant to melting. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and corn starch.

LIKE A PRO. The closest you can get to an eggless store-bought ice cream with just one extra ingredient: xanthan gum. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and  xanthan gum.

also available:

The ingredients

Do not reduce or replace anything; everything is there for a reason.

To show the ingredients for this custard-based Lemon Ice Cream recipe: milk, heavy cream, lemons, sugar, and egg yolks.

Lemons: the taste of the ice cream will be as good as the lemons you use. You can judge a lemon by its smell: scratch a small piece off the lemon with your nail and smell it. If it feels good, it is perfect for this ice cream. 

Use local, seasonal lemons, if possible. Imported lemons are coated with wax, which should be remove  before using their zest, by rinsing and rubbing the waxed surface with your hands under warm water. 

• Milk: use whole milk; this has approx. 3,5% fat. Do not substitute with skimmed milk (lower fat) or non-dairy milk. You need both the fat and the milk proteins for this ice cream recipe.

Sugar: you can use regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or a raw cane sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado, which enhances the lemon’s flavour.

Do not use any other sugar or sweetener, natural or artificial, liquid or powder, like honey, stevia, golden syrup, table sweeteners, confectioner’s sugar, etc.

• Heavy cream (for double cream read below): for this recipe you can use heavy cream with 35% to 40% fat content. It is ok to use cream suitable for whipping or ultra-pasteurised cream with 35-40% fat content. Do not use low-fat cream or non-dairy cream.

Egg yolks: we use eggs in the range of 65 – 75 g; 2.3 – 2.65 oz , (this is the weight of a whole egg, in its shell), but it is ok to use larger or smaller ones. It is easier to separate the egg yolks from the whites when the eggs are cold.

🇬🇧 For UK readers: if you want to use double cream -which has a higher fat content (50%) than heavy cream (35-40% fat)- stir some milk into the double cream to bring it to the right fat content. Instructions in double cream – how to use”.

To show the ingredients for this custard-based Lemon Ice Cream recipe: milk, heavy cream, lemons, sugar, and egg yolks.

Lemons: the taste of the ice cream will be as good as the lemons you use. You can judge a lemon by its smell: scratch a small piece off the lemon with your nail and smell it. If it feels good, it is perfect for this ice cream. 

Use local, seasonal lemons, if possible. Imported lemons are coated with wax, which should be remove  before using their zest, by rinsing and rubbing the waxed surface with your hands under warm water. 

Sugar: you can use regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or a raw cane sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado, which enhances the lemon’s flavours.

Do not use any other sugar or sweetener, natural or artificial, liquid or powder, like honey, stevia, golden syrup, table sweeteners, confectioner’s sugar, etc.

Egg yolks: we use eggs in the range of 65 – 75 g; 2.3 – 2.65 oz , (this is the weight of a whole egg, in its shell), but it is ok to use larger or smaller ones. It is easier to separate the egg yolks from the whites when the eggs are cold.

• Milk: use whole milk, with around 3,5% fat. Do not substitute with skimmed milk (lower fat) or non-dairy milk. You need both the fat and the milk proteins for this ice cream recipe.

• Heavy cream (for double cream see scroll to the right): for this recipe you can use heavy cream with 35% – 40% fat. It is ok to use cream suitable for whipping or ultra-pasteurised cream with 35-40% fat content.

Do not use low-fat cream or non-dairy cream.

🇬🇧 For UK readers: if you want to use double cream -which has a higher fat content (50%) than heavy cream (35-40% fat)- stir some milk into the double cream to bring it to the right fat content. Instructions in Double cream: how to use” notes in the recipe.

Overview

This is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to ice cream making, do read the recipe before proceeding. 

Infuse the milk: warm the milk with the sugar and zest the lemons directly into the hot milk. Cover and leave to infuse for 1 hour.

Make the lemon syrup: warm the lemon juice with the sugar to dissolve the sugar.

Chill until completely cold.

Make the custard: heat up the infused milk and pour it over the egg yolks, while whisking them vigorously.

Pour back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring, until it slightly thickens.

Pour into a bowl with the heavy cream and cool down over an ice bath.

Chill the ice cream mixture overnight or until completely cold.

Put the ice cream mixture in the refrigerator overnight; or until completely cold.

Strain and churn in your ice cream maker until fluffed up and creamy.

Add the lemon syrup and churn for 15 minutes more.

Put it in the freezer for a few hours to set. 

As soon as it sets, you can either serve it from the ice cream maker bowl or transfer to a container and store it in the freezer.

The recipe

Lemon Ice Cream | with egg yolks (custard)

Lemon Ice Cream | with egg yolks (custard)

Ingredients:
Notes:

When making ice cream prefer to weigh all the ingredients by weight. We also recommend, whenever possible, weighing the liquid ingredients directly into the bowl/pan as you proceed with the recipe instead of transferring them from one bowl to another because this transfer causes a small -but unwanted- loss of quantity.

Note that the quantities in each measuring system (grams, ounces and cups) are not accurate conversions; they are independent and calculated in a way that works for each of them, so choose the one which works for you and stick to it.

If you do not have a kitchen scale, follow these guidelines:
• 1 cup (US) = 237 ml | 1 tablespoon = 15 ml

• sugar: measuring sugar in tablespoons is more accurate than measuring it in cups. Use a 15 ml measuring tablespoon (not a regular one); this is 13 gr of sugar. To measure correctly, each time you scoop the sugar, level it with the flat side of a knife.

• liquid ingredients: thoroughly scrape with a rubber spatula any residues left on the sides and bottom of the cup every time you measure something and empty it.

Note that the quantities in each measuring system (grams, ounces, and cups) in our recipes may not be accurate conversions, while any deviations you may notice do not affect the outcome.

This recipe makes a 1.2 litre/quart ice cream mixture with its lemon syrup (before churning), perfect for ice cream makers with a capacity of 1.5 and up to 2 litres/quarts (like Cuisinart ice cream makers).

If you need to scale the ice cream mixture up or down, use this ratio of the ingredients (in weight only):

for the ice cream mixture: milk 28.2% / heavy cream 38.3% / sugar 13.7% / egg yolks 6.5% / lemon zest: about 1 lemon for every 350 g of ice cream mixture

for the lemon syrup: lemon juice: 10.1% / sugar: 3.2%

in desired total weight of ice cream mixture.

For example, if you want to make 1000 g (approx. 1 litre) of ice cream mixture, you need:

• 1000 g x 28.2% = 282 g milk

• 1000 g x 38.3% = 383 g heavy cream

• 1000 g x 13.7% = 137 g sugar (for the ice cream mixture)

• 1000 g x 6.5% = 65 g egg yolks

• 3 lemons for their zest

• 1000 g x 10.1% = 101 g lemon juice

• 1000 g x 3.2% = 32 g sugar (for the lemon syrup)

You can combine double cream with whole milk to make heavy cream for this recipe.

To make 475 g (16 oz) heavy cream, stir together:

  • 335 double cream (11.2 oz) (with approx. 50% fat)
  • 140 g whole milk (4.8 oz) (with approx. 3.5% fat) -note that this milk is extra to the 350 g; 12.3 oz asked in the recipe-

The resulting heavy cream has 36% fat, perfect for this ice cream. Proceed with the recipe just as if you had the 475 g (16 oz) heavy cream needed.

This lemon ice cream is perfect as it is. However, if you want to boost its flavour you can substitute the regular sugar with good-quality raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado. These sugars have a natural subtle caramel flavour which pairs well with the lemon’s citrus notes and boosts its flavour, without overriding it. 

A flexible rubber spatula is good for:
-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when you cook dairy on the stovetop.
-scraping residues from bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, we strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one. 

Instructions
Plan ahead:

The ice cream mixture needs to cool completely and mature before churning, so prepare it in advance (approx. 8 hours before) to give it time to chill in the refrigerator. 

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Infuse the milk

Warm the milk with the sugar: in a medium saucepan, put the milk (350 g; 12.3 oz) and the sugar (170 g; 6 oz). Warm over medium heat, often stirring until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot and very steamy (this is at 75° C / 167° F if you have a thermometer). Do not let it boil.

Add the lemon zest: remove the saucepan from the heat and zest the lemons directly into the milk. Stir to combine.

Infuse the milk: cover the saucepan and leave the milk to infuse for 1 hour.

Step 2: Make the lemon syrup

Juice the lemons to get 125 g (4.4 oz; about ½ cup) of lemon juice.

Warm the lemon juice with the sugar: pour the lemon juice into a small saucepan, add the 40 g sugar (1.4 oz) and warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat when the sugar dissolves and the juice it is hot and steamy / about 75° C / 167° F. Do not let it boil.

Cool: pour into a container and chill it in the refrigetator until it is completely cold, before using it.

Storing: in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

Step 3: Make the ice cream mixture

Pour the heavy cream (475 g; 16 oz) in a large bowl.

Prepare the egg yolks: put the egg yolks (4 egg yolks; 80 g. 2.8 oz) in a medium heatproof 

bowl, and whisk them lightly to break them down. Set the bowl next to the stovetop, leaving the whisk in the bowl.

Heat up the infused milk: uncover the saucepan with the infused milk and place it over medium-high heat.

Temper the egg yolks: when the milk is hot and steamy, remove it from the heat and slowly ladle roughly half of the warm milk over the egg yolks with one hand while whisking them vigorously with the other hand to temper them.

Cook until thickened: pour the tempered yolks & milk back into the saucepan and over medium-high heat. Cook, constantly stirring with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the custard from scalding. Maintain a medium temperature, do not let it come to a boil.

Remove from the heat when the custard starts to thicken (82ºC / 179 ºF / when it thickens to coat the back of a spoon / when you tilt the saucepan, a layer of thickened custard appears to form on the bottom).

Pour the thickened milk into the heavy cream; stir to combine.

Step 4: Chill the ice cream mixture

Cool it down: prepare an ice bath by putting the bowl with the ice cream mixture into a larger bowl and filling the empty sides with ice cubes and cold water. How many ice cubes? A tray of ice cubes (200 g; 7 oz of ice) is enough to cool down the ice cream mixture: we just need to cool it down until it is no longer warm to the touch so that you can safely put it in the refrigerator. This will take approx. 30 minutes; do stir occasionally.

Chill until completely cold: cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. This time is also necessary for a custard-based ice cream to mature and its flavours to develop, so do not rush the cooling process.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, the ice cream mixture must be fridge-cold (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF / it feels fridge-cold when you place your index finger into it).

If the ice cream mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not be able to churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy ice cream.

Step 5: Churn the ice cream

Check if the ice cream mixture is cold before churning it: it should feel fridge-cold when you place your finger into it (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF) .

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Strain the ice cream mixture through a fine 

mesh sieve and give it a nice, thorough stir.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker.

Leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy, but not too thick.

Give a stir to the cold lemon syrup.

Add the cold lemon syrup in the ice cream in three additions, with the machine running. Leave to churn for 10 minutes more; or until the ice cream is fluffy and creamy.

This ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy, with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. The total churning time depends on your ice cream maker and could be anywhere from 30-70 minutes.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft like soft-serve ice cream. If it looks watery or starts to melt the moment you spoon it, leave it to churn for longer.

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now, it should be more like soft-serve ice cream. It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer.

So, stop the ice cream maker when thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Warning: some ice cream makers are programmed to stop after a specific time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

Step 6: Put the ice cream in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream maker and: 

· remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
· remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl 
· cover the ice cream bowl and place it in the freezer 
Setting time depends on many factors; see notes below for indicative times.

If you are storing the ice cream in a container, put it in the freezer too.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storage.

Storing and serving

Storing: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice cream, freezes hard in the long term. You can make it perfectly scoopable again by putting it in the refrigerator for 45-60 minuter until soft; or until its internal temperature reads -11°C / 12°F.

Instructions

The ice cream mixture needs to cool completely and mature before churning, so prepare it in advance (approx. 8 hours before) to give it time to chill in the refrigerator. 

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Warm the milk with the sugar: in a medium saucepan, put the milk (350 g; 12.3 oz) and the sugar (170 g; 6 oz). Warm over medium heat, often stirring until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot and very steamy (this is at 75° C / 167° F if you have a thermometer). Do not let it boil.

Add the lemon zest: remove the saucepan from the heat and zest the lemons directly into the milk. Stir to combine.

Infuse the milk: cover the saucepan and leave the milk to infuse for 1 hour.

Juice the lemons to get 125 g (4.4 oz; about ½ cup) of lemon juice.

Warm the lemon juice with the sugar: pour the lemon juice into a small saucepan, add the 40 g sugar (1.4 oz) and warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat when the sugar dissolves and the juice it is hot and steamy / about 75° C / 167° F. Do not let it boil.

Cool: pour into a container and chill it in the refrigetator until it is completely cold, before using it.

Storing: in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

Pour the heavy cream (475 g; 16 oz) in a large bowl.

Prepare the egg yolks: put the egg yolks (4 egg yolks; 80 g. 2.8 oz) in a medium heatproof bowl, and whisk them lightly to break them down. Set the bowl next to the stovetop, leaving the whisk in the bowl.

Heat up the infused milk: uncover the saucepan with the infused milk and place it over medium-high heat.

Temper the egg yolks: when the milk is hot and steamy, remove it from the heat and slowly ladle roughly half of the warm milk over the egg yolks with one hand while whisking them vigorously with the other hand to temper them.

Cook until thickened: pour the tempered yolks & milk back into the saucepan and over medium-high heat. Cook, constantly stirring with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the custard from scalding. Maintain a medium temperature, do not let it come to a boil.

Remove from the heat when the custard starts to thicken (82ºC / 179 ºF / when it thickens to coat the back of a spoon / when you tilt the saucepan, a layer of thickened custard appears to form on the bottom).

Pour the thickened milk into the heavy cream; stir to combine.

Cool it down: prepare an ice bath by putting the bowl with the ice cream mixture into a larger bowl and filling the empty sides with ice cubes and cold water. How many ice cubes? A tray of ice cubes (200 g; 7 oz of ice) is enough to cool down the ice cream mixture: we just need to cool it down until it is no longer warm to the touch so that you can safely put it in the refrigerator. This will take approx. 30 minutes; do stir occasionally.

Chill until completely cold: cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. This time is also necessary for a custard-based ice cream to mature and its flavours to develop, so do not rush the cooling process.

Check if the ice cream mixture is cold before churning it: it should feel fridge-cold when you place your finger into it (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF) .

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Strain: the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve and give it a nice, thorough stir.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker.

Leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy, but not too thick.

Give a stir to the cold lemon syrup.

Add the cold lemon syrup in the ice cream in three additions, with the machine running. Leave to churn for 10 minutes more; or until the ice cream is fluffy and creamy. Troubleshooting: if the ice cream becomes too thick and the ice cream maker stops churning before the lemon syrup has been incorporated, stop the machine, remove the lid and give a good stir to the ice cream with a spoon, to help the lemon syrup mix in. 

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream maker and: 

· remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine

· remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl 

· cover the ice cream bowl and place it in the freezer.

Setting time depends on many factors; read How long does it take for the ice cream to set in questions & troubleshooting below.

If you are storing the ice cream in a container, put it in the freezer too.

Serve or store: as soon as it sets, you can either serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing. 

Storing: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice cream, freezes hard in the long term. You can make it perfectly scoopable again by putting it in the refrigerator for 45-60 minuter until soft; or until its internal temperature reads -11° / 12°F.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, the ice cream mixture must be fridge-cold (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF / it feels fridge-cold when you place your index finger into it).

If the ice cream mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not be able to churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy ice cream.

This ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy, with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. The total churning time depends on your ice cream maker and could be anywhere from 30-70 minutes.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft like soft-serve ice cream. If it looks watery or starts to melt the moment you spoon it, leave it to churn for longer.

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now, it should be more like soft-serve ice cream.

It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer.

So, stop the ice cream maker when thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Note that some ice cream makers are programmed to stop after a specific time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

The setting time for the ice cream largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors.

Check it occasionally (approx. every 2 hours; or as needed) while it is in the freezer. The ice cream is ready when it has an internal temperature of -11ºC / 12ºF. If you do not have a thermometer, to evaluate if the ice cream has set, insert a round tip knife into it, all the way to the bottom: 

  • when the ice cream is ready, it feels firm as you go down, but at the same time it is soft enough to insert the knife into it; it should have this same firm consistency from top to bottom.
  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to scoop out of the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Read right below how to soften it.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve ice cream consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it in the freezer after churning sets it and brings it to the right consistency, similar to that of an ice cream parlour’s.

If the ice cream stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the ice cream is easy to scoop (or it has an internal temperature of approx. -11°C / 12°F if you have a thermometer), you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

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