Arctic roll

Arctic roll

Modern British Food
2 rolls

Surely everyone’s favourite childhood pudding?

It could well have a romantic Arctic or even Antarctic heritage, but more likely it was invented in a factory in Milton Keynes by a ‘food technician’. Yet no visit to the grandparents was complete without a slice of Arctic roll, back before Werther’s Originals were invented. Although sadly the only flavour on offer was the classic vanilla ice cream with raspberry jam and sponge. Things have moved on since then though, in leaps and bounds.

I was challenged, once upon a time, to make this British classic for the famous chef Mark Hix when I helped him open a restaurant in Soho. I made six versions of the classic combination, with thick sponge, thin sponge, rippled jam, unrippled jam, churned ice cream and a frozen mousse. He wasn’t very impressed with any of them, shrugged his shoulders and wandered off. Rather despondent, I served them all to a very excited staff table the next day.

Six months later I was cooking ‘butch British pub grub’ of my own, and while scrabbling around for ideas on classic and nostalgic puddings, thought it might be a great idea to resurrect that aborted attempt at Arctic roll and put my creative spin on it. What better canvas than to be able to mix up different flavours and colours of ice cream, with jam and sponge, and have funny, alluring titles pointing to the familiar and less-familiar.

I always have a rotating roster of at least fifteen flavours of ice cream in my freezer, some more classic than others. They make the most brilliant last-minuteice- cream-birthday-cakes all piled up, and people can play the game of trying to work out what the different flavours are. The possibilities really are endless!

Like the catchphrase from Blue Peter (the show you would probably have been watching the last time you ate this), ‘here’s one I made earlier’, this is a great pudding to pull effortlessly out of the freezer when it is time for afters. And if you are organised, you could even make more than one flavour. I dare you.

The recipe comes in several parts and is fairly complicated, but if you bear with it, the results are worthwhile and will keep indefinitely in the freezer for endless treats.

Previous ‘interesting’ flavours that we have tried, on top of the more traditional coffee (Nescafé), Bounty, salty popcorn and overripe banana, have been: Aquafresh, Hubba Bubba, Montecristo (yes, the cigar chopped up and infused in the cream), Fisherman’s Friend, Thai green curry, basil seed, pea and mint, scented geranium, Rice Krispies, sweet fennel, builder’s tea, smoked bacon, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes … and the list keeps growing with the next enthusiastic chef who joins the team.

‘Chef, have you ever tried Christmas Tree infused cream…’ It went on the menu the following day. Fancy chefs call it Douglas fir; rather like a forest fresh pine loo cleaner, only sweet, fun and some have even muttered ‘delicious’.

Here I have given you the recipe for my green Thai curry ice cream, but you could use the Cheat’s Vanilla Ice Cream instead. (I suggest you start well ahead of time to allow for the freezing time for the various components and assembly.)

Try something new today!


Quantity Ingredient

Green thai curry ice cream

Quantity Ingredient
500ml double cream
20g lemongrass, chopped
40g galangal, chopped
5g kaffir lime leaves
20g lime peel
3g cardamom seeds (about 10)
1 large red chilli, kept whole
15g mint leaves
20g ginger, peeled and chopped
50g desiccated coconut
80g egg yolks (about 4 yolks)
4 eggs
150g caster sugar
food colouring, see note

You will need

Quantity Ingredient
we use cut-off black plastic drainpipes about 2 x 11inch or 5 x 30cm, see note

Simple sponges

Quantity Ingredient
100g caster sugar
5 eggs
food colouring
100g plain flour


Quantity Ingredient
jam or other spread, see note

You will need

Quantity Ingredient
a blowtorch
a rolling pin


  1. Green Thai curry ice cream

    Boil the double cream together with the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lime peel, cardamom seeds, chilli, mint, ginger and coconut, and refrigerate overnight to infuse.
  2. Surprisingly delish.
  3. Place the egg yolks, eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place (or at least use an electric hand whisk) and whisk hard until twice the original volume.
  4. Once infused, either colour a bit of the flavoured cream green or a bit red depending on whether you want Thai green or Thai red curry effect.
  5. Fold the flavoured whipped cream slowly into this eggy-sugary base until smooth. Pour into the round tube mould or cling-filmed drainpipes (or into a tub for normal scooping) and freeze for at least 5 hours, or ideally overnight.
  6. Simple sponges

    Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place (or at least use an electric hand whisk) and whisk until twice the original volume.
  7. Now, colour can be added to the sponge; if you are using more than one colour, now is the time to separate the mixture into different bowls, one for each colour. Make the colour of the sponge relative to the colour and taste of the ice cream it will wrap (it will all make sense, I promise). Here I’ve used the colours of the Thai flag, as you can see in the pictures. Fold in the sifted flour to each coloured mixture carefully, so as not to knock out too much of the air.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. If using more than one colour, separate each mixture into different piping bags – use a nice big bowl or tin to help you. Skip this step if only using one colour.
  10. Spread the mix out to 0.75cm thick on two parchment-lined trays, so the sponge is big enough to roll up your tubes of ice cream. If using a mix of colours, use the piping bags to pipe a striped effect. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool. Lay the sponge on a bed of cling film and carefully peel the old baking parchment off.
  11. This sponge is also really good for a trifle, tiramisu or Swiss roll. Even a cake with ganache between numerous layers is a fun one. It freezes well, too.
  12. Leave the sponge to cool for a few minutes, then thinly spread jam or your chosen spread all over it.
  13. Take your ice cream drainpipe and remove the cling film. To help ease the ice cream out, blowtorch the plastic tube slightly all around, just enough to release the ice cream but not enough to melt the plastic. (Alternatively, run the pipe under some hot water to soften the ice cream a little.) Squeeze it out using a rolling pin as a pusher from one end. Place the tube of ice cream down the middle of the sponge. Trim the edges of the sponge to the size of the ice cream roll (16), and then use the cling film to help you roll it up. Wrap with new cling film and smooth down all the edges. Leave in the freezer for a good few hours, or overnight, to set again. It will keep for a long time wrapped in the freezer. Slice as needed to serve.


  • Alongside the flavour, you may also need to give a visual enhancement, adding colour to make it look right. A lot of infused creams will come out white or beige and are in need of a little visual trickery. Supermarket food colouring is fine – the little ‘toothpaste’ tubes of paste are best


  • (seriously), cling filmed at one end, and have yet to find a better solution. Find two lengths of clean drainpipe that will fit in your freezer, with edges smoothed


  • Such as chocolate, salted caramel, etc. – classically, raspberry jam is used, but go for any other funky flavour you like. Again, just make sure it’s relative to the flavour you are making; apricot jam can be used as a neutral ‘glue’
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