At this time of year, blood oranges need little introduction. These wondrous fruits grow in several varieties, their colour ranging from the faintest flush of rouge to the deep, inky juices of the Moro orange. Their garnet flesh yields juices that are sweeter yet more bitter than eating oranges and, as the name suggests, red! The blush to their peel is often a subtle one, but there is nothing subtle when it comes to flavour.
Last year, I read Helena Attlee's brilliant book The Land Where Lemon's Grow, which explores the history and heritage of citrus growth and cultivation in Italy. According to Attlee, the best blood oranges grow on the breezy slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Somewhat contrarily, it is actually the coolness of altitude (as opposed to the heat of volcanic lava) that gives blood oranges their fiery hue.
And so, it seems fitting to use the vibrant juice of blood oranges to flavour creamy custard before freezing it into ice cream. The juice is reduced to intensify the flavour, a stroke of Martha Stewart genius that I have definitely borrowed for this recipe.
3 large blood oranges
250g whole milk
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
150g double cream
Zest and juice the oranges. Place the zest and juice in a small pan, then set this over a low heat to reduce. The juice needs to reduce to one third of its original volume.
Place the milk in a second pan, and set over a medium heat. Slowly bring the milk to the boil, removing the pan from the heat as soon as it just starts to bubble on the surface. While the milk is heating up, whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar and salt. When the milk is ready, pour a little over the eggs, whisking quickly to temper. Then add the rest of the milk and whisk to combine.
Wash out the pan, then return it to the heat and add back in the egg and milk mixture. Stirring constantly, cook over a low-medium heat until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove it from the heat, then whisk in the cream. This will cool down the mixture and stop the custard from cooking. Add the reduced orange juice and whisk to combine.
Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream makers instructions.