Make homemade vanilla birthday cake ice cream with actual cake pieces.
Homemade birthday cake ice cream is the ultimate dessert treat! This cake flavored ice cream is made with a few secret ingredients that mimic the taste of yellow cake batter. This vanilla ice cream with actual cake pieces is rich, flavorful, and packed with rainbow sprinkles. If you're looking for the perfect birthday party ice cream, this is it!
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Whether you're celebrating your birthday, or just need some delicious ice cream in your life, you've come to the right place! This homemade birthday cake ice cream is full of flavor, sprinkles, and actual cake pieces. It would be the perfect ice cream to serve at any party!
If you love homemade ice cream as much as I do, make sure to follow along in my ice cream of the month series. Each month, we're learning how to make a different flavor of ice cream, along with testing out various at home ice cream making techniques to unlock the code to amazing ice cream and learn more about the 'how and why' behind recipes.
Last month we talked about the best home ice cream makers to buy (I use the Whynter machine), as well as some basic ice cream terms you'll want to know. I'd suggest starting there if you're new to homemade ice cream. I've also included a delicious recipe for Skrewball peanut butter whiskey ice cream in that post.
What is the Flavor of Birthday Cake Ice Cream?
This birthday cake ice cream has a few secret flavors. First, birthday cake ice cream is made with butter extract which mimics the rich, buttery flavor of a cake. The butter extract is what flavors our ice cream base to really pack a punch.
We're also adding in actual cake pieces and rainbow sprinkles for our mix-ins. What better way to make your ice cream taste like cake than by adding in actual pieces of cake?! This is seriously the best recipe for birthday party ice cream!!
Ice Cream with Cornstarch
Today's birthday cake ice cream recipe is a riff off of Sicilian style ice cream. In Southern Italy, Sicilian gelato is a type of ice cream that doesn't use eggs or much fat really (this recipe still contains cream, so it's not true Sicilian gelato). In order to help this type of ice cream stay thick and creamy without much fat, we use cornstarch!
Ice cream with cornstarch is not as weird of an idea as you may think. Cornstarch is considered a stabilizer, which is often found in ice cream (more on that in a minute). The benefit of using cornstarch is the flavor is very subdued, meaning nobody is really going to notice it's there unless you tell them.
To properly make ice cream using corn starch, you need to be sure you use the correct amount. Too much and the ice cream will have a pasty, unpleasant texture. Food 52 has a great jumping-off place for how much cornstarch to use. Some common ratios from the article include:
- 1 cup liquid to 1 teaspoon starch ratio (Source: Hello, My Name is Ice Cream)
- ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon liquid to 1 teaspoon starch ratio (Source: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams)
- 1 cup liquid to 1 tablespoon starch ratio (Source: The Perfect Scoop)
Our birthday cake ice cream is using the ratio 1 cup liquid to 1 tablespoon starch ratio.
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How do Stabilizers Help Ice Cream?
By now you understand that cornstarch is used as a stabilizer. But, what does a stabilizer do for ice cream, and what are some other examples besides cornstarch?
There are many reasons why stabilizers are used in ice cream, but all of them boil down to achieving the best possible texture - thick & smooth ice cream. Let me explain:
If you read (or watched) the lessons from our first ice cream of the month, you'll know ice crystals play a huge role in the texture of the ice cream.
Ice crystals give our ice cream hardness and density. Our main goal during the ice cream making process is to keep our ice crystals small so we get smooth ice cream.
Stabilizers add thickness (viscosity) to the ice cream base, thus leading to less movement of the water molecules. This helps prevent the small ice crystals (created during the freezing process) from fusing together to form large crystals leading to an unpleasant, hard texture.
Since stabilizers help thicken our ice cream base, that viscosity also helps slow down the melting process. That helps to make a more enjoyable eating process (nobody likes a melted ice cream cone) as well as prevent additional ice crystals from forming in the freezer.
Other examples of stabilizers include eggs (very common in ice cream base recipes), gums (like locust bean or carrageenan), or xanthan gum.
RELATED POST: 7 Types of Ice Cream to Try
How to Add In Ice Cream Mixers
The type of mixer you're adding to your ice cream will help determine the method you'll use. For this ice cream, we are using two techniques to add in the sprinkles and cake pieces to our birthday cake ice cream.
- Mix in the ice cream maker: If you want the toppings to be fully incorporated and cohesively mixed in the ice cream, add them in during the last few minutes of the freezing process. Slowly add the mix-in a tablespoon at a time to promote even distribution.
Be aware that anything you add in at this stage will be slightly broken down by the ice cream maker. If you want to keep large chunks of something, make sure to add it in after the ice cream is done freezing.
- Mix after the ice cream is done freezing: For any mix-ins that you want to keep in large chunks, like the cake pieces, add them in after freezing. As you're scooping the ice cream into the container you're going to freeze it in, slowly start to lay the mix-ins around the ice cream.
I like to do this in layers to allow for even distribution. Plan to layer this ice cream recipe into three different layers. So, add in a layer of ice cream, top with cake pieces, and repeat an additional two times.
RELATED POST: Best Ice Cream Makers on Amazon
Birthday Cake Ice Cream
- 1 cup (231 grams) heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups (480 grams) whole milk
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (23 grams) cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) Morton kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon butter flavor extract
- ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles
- 2 large vanilla bakery cupcakes broken into large chunks (you can keep or discard the icing)
- Scale (measure) all ingredients except for the sprinkles and cupcakes.
- Add heavy whipping cream and whole milk to a heavy bottom pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to steam, around 160°F.
- Meanwhile mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt with a fork until no lumps remain and everything is well incorporated.
- Once the cream and milk begin to steam (160°F), add in butter flavor extract. Slowly add in sugar mixture in small batches, whisking continuously. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for an additional 2-3 minutes until mixture has slightly thickened. You can check this by scooping a bit of the liquid up with a spoon and testing the thickness. Make sure the cream/milk mixture does not boil at any point.
- Transfer mixture to a heatproof bowl and cool in an ice bath until mixture has stop steaming. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the mixture to prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill the ice cream base until it reaches 40°F, or up to overnight.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process for about 20-25 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's directions. About two minutes before the ice cream is done freezing, add in rainbow sprinkles a tablespoon at a time until well incorporated.
- Place a third of the ice cream in a plastic storage container, add in a third of the cupcake pieces scattered around. Repeat with remaining two layers. The ice cream will be on the soft side but can be eaten right away or put into the freezer to "cure" or harden up for a couple of hours. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two weeks.
If you're into learning about the science of ice cream, here are some additional articles you should check out:
Popular myths about ice cream, including a myth that 'stabilizers make bad ice cream.'
A very in-depth guide to using stabilizers in ice cream. It covers everything from egg stabilizers to starches, to plant-based gums.
This one is SUPER science-y. If you're into that kind of stuff, you can check out why stabilizers are used in ice cream.
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P.S. If you made this birthday cake ice cream, share a picture with me on Instagram using #HomebodyEats. I love seeing your creations!!