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For those of us who don’t have air conditioning in our homes, baking in the summer is either put on hold, or you just sweat it out. I know I’m not the only one who has had a dewey brow when baking cookies in July.
However, there is an indulgent cake that can be made without turning on the oven, and uses another appliance instead — the refrigerator.
Icebox cakes have been around for close to 100 years. In the 1920s, companies would give out recipes to promote their new kitchen appliance — the electric icebox.
Back then, the average home cook didn’t have a huge refrigerator. Instead, they used an insulated box that held a block of ice that was delivered by truck. The icebox cake became popular because achieving the desired cake-like consistency happened in this new appliance, and not the oven. Even when refrigerators replaced the ice boxes in kitchens, the name stuck with the light and creamy dessert, adding to its nostalgic charm.
The classic icebox cake is simply chocolate wafers layered with sweetened vanilla whipped cream. Nothing more and nothing less. Layered in a loaf pan, it was chilled and sliced, revealing a pretty pattern of cookies and cream inside. Home cooks would experiment with other types of cookies, boxed pudding, sweetened condensed milk, and different flavours of whipped cream. The variations are endless, and after one bite it’s easy to see why this cake remains so popular all these years later.
Blueberry Lime Icebox Cake
To celebrate the arrival of splendid warm weather and all of the gorgeous fruit that comes with it, I decided to create a blueberry lime icebox cake. It’s a lovely combination of flavours, and just look at that presentation!
Using graham crackers, a simple blueberry sauce, and sweetened limy whipped cream, this dessert takes just a handful of minutes to prepare. I love how the crackers are softened, but not soggy. They melt in your mouth, and you almost have to pinch yourself to check that you’re not eating a traditional cake.
There are three layers of graham crackers, five layers of whipped cream, and two layers of blueberry sauce. Each layer of graham crackers is about five full graham crackers (you can break some up to fit). This recipe yields four cups of whipped cream and you will use about 3/4 cup per layer.
The cake needs to be in the freezer for a minimum of five hours, so plan your serving time accordingly.
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp warm water
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp lime zest
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1 sleeve of graham crackers
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, for garnish
lime zest, for garnish
1. Make the blueberry sauce: In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch, lime juice and water. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries and sugar. Cook the blueberries for 3-4 minutes until the berries release their juices and the sauce thickens. Be sure to stir the sauce continuously so it does not burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest. Let cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
2. Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, with overhang over the edges so the cake can be lifted out easily.
3. Make the whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the whipping cream, icing sugar, lime juice and zest. Beat until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
4. Assemble the cake: Spread two spoonfuls of whipped cream into a very thin layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. This will help the bottom layer of graham crackers stick. I use an offset spatula to get into the corners easily. Layer the graham crackers on top. Spread about 3/4 cup of whipped cream on top of the graham crackers. Next, layer half of the blueberry sauce on top, another 3/4 cup of whipped cream, another layer of graham crackers, 3/4 cup of whipped cream, the rest of the blueberry sauce, 3/4 cup of whipped cream, graham crackers, then the rest of the whipped cream. If desired, top with additional blueberries and lime zest. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about five hours.
5. Let the cake soften in the refrigerator for about an hour or at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan using the plastic wrap overhang, cut into slices and serve cold. Cover any leftovers and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
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