RECIPE BASICS – vanilla ice cream

David and I ran our cafes for the best part of a decade. First in Sydney’s Hurlstone Park and then in beautiful Yamba on the North Coast of NSW. 

Over that time we developed a real following for our Shake-it-yourself milkshakes and our Iced Coffees. These milkshakes were always a winner with little kids and big kids alike. A big scoop of home-made ice cream and a slurp of milk in a jar with a tight lid, and even the biggest kids loved to shake shake shake away. 

Harriet’s first shake-it-yourself Chocolate Milkshake – John Fisk (Blue Chook Hurlstone Park)

The secret to the milkshakes was of course our home-made ice cream. The milkshake flavour was always based on the ice cream, and this recipe is the basic vanilla ice cream we built every other flavour from.

We were always pretty cagey about how we made it, but I reckon it’s time to share the recipe. We have cafes anymore, and we don’t need to make 15 or 20 litres at a time but we still get out the mixer and whip this up for ourselves every so often.

Our recipe doesn’t involve any messing around with eggs, there’s no making custards, fiddling with double boilers OR fooling around with expensive ice cream machines either. 

This is an – all in one bowl method – which was always important when we were making big batches. If you can whip cream, you make this ice cream.

The one trick to this method is mastering the texture and knowing when to stop mixing. 

The basic recipe is for vanilla ice cream – other flavours are easy to adapt.

BASIC RECIPES – vanilla ice cream


Makes about 1 litre

600ml cream  (pouring cream, whipping cream or thickened cream)

300grams icing sugar (confectioners sugar)

3 tablespoons (45ml) vanilla essence

Place all ingredients in a bowl and begin to stir gently until the icing sugar is submerged. If you go in too quickly you’ll end up with a cloud of icing sugar all over your kitchen. 

Once the icing sugar is just combined crank up your electric mixer and whip the cream until the mixture is just starting to thicken.

The cream will go through a few stages – it will develop bubbles on the surface at first. Keep going until you begin to see the surface wrinkle up around the beaters. 

You should be able to lift the beaters out of the mixture and trace a pattern in the mixture. Don’t over mix. You don’t want whipped cream, and you certainly don’t want butter. Over mixing will make the ice cream almost impossible to serve once its frozen. It’s better to stop too early. 

Transfer the mixture to a freezer safe container, cover and freeze for at least 8 hours. 

Scoop and serve any way you like ice cream.  


Chocolate ice cream – replace icing sugar with 300g drinking chocolate powder.

Strawberry ice cream – use 150grams icing sugar and 150grams strawberry jam – you will need to add a little red food colouring to get the traditional pink look of commercial strawberry ice cream.

Peanut butter ice cream – use 150grams icing sugar, add 150grams softened peanut butter.

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