Saturday, October 6, 2012

Make Your Own Ice Cream Cake!

I made a homemade ice cream cake for my birthday celebration earlier this week and am so excited to share the recipe with you. I suppose it's more semi-homemade than truly homemade. I didn't make the ice cream from scratch this time, but the cake is made at home, so that kind of counts as homemade, right? By the way, I have a birthday giveaway going on right now that I think will definitely appeal to any weekend cooking people, so please head on over to My Happy Birthday Giveaway post to check it out. 

Before I get into the instructions, I feel compelled to tell you that my husband was quite beside himself that I made my own birthday cake. He did not approve of this, but reluctantly relented when I insisted that not only was this the cake I wanted and he couldn't buy it anywhere, but also that I was having fun making it and that the whole thing simply made me happy? The icing on the cake to this scenario (pun intended), is that now I have photos and how-to instructions to share with all of YOU!

Wait until you see how easy this is. The instructions look lengthy, but don't be intimidated. It's not at all complicated and really... how badly can you mess up a cake assembled with store-bought ice cream and toppings, right?

These instructions are for making a small ice cream cake in a loaf pan that serves 6-8 people. Once you make an ice cream cake in this size pan once or twice, you can move on to making larger cakes in other shaped pans, such as a round 1.5 quart round casserole dish or a springform pan. It's just as easy to layer the ingredients, but a little more challenging to line with plastic wrap and unmold. Because of it's size and shape, I'd probably gently press crushed nuts or cookies to the sides of the unmolded cake for a nicer presentation. That's going to be my next ice cream cake project.

Vanilla Bean, Pumpkin Spice & Toasted Almond Ice Cream Cake
homemade ice cream cake
Homemade Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice
& Toasted Almond Ice Cream Cake
What you need: 
8.5 x 4" loaf pan 
plastic wrap 
cooking spray {or a tiny bit of butter on a paper towel} 
2 or 3 pints of ice cream, frozen yogurt or sherbet of desired flavors
topping ingredients, optional 

Some suggested topping ingredients:
chocolate sauce
caramel sauce
chopped nuts
whole or crushed cookies
shredded coconut
fruit preserves

I used three different flavors of ice cream to make my cake, but you can use just two if you like. Just skip steps 8 and 9. You can also make the cake without any toppings between the ice cream layers. It's totally up to you how you want to customize your cake.

What you do: 

  1. Take ice creams out of freezer and let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften a bit. You can also put ice cream containers in microwave for 10-20 seconds at a time until ice cream begins to soften. 
  2. While ice cream is softening, spray the inside of the loaf pan very, very lightly with cooking spray. Or use a tiny bit of butter on a paper towel and lightly grease the inside of the loaf pan. This will allow the ice cream cake to be removed from the pan more easily later without having to melt the ice cream to get it out. 
  3. Line the inside of the loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure there is excess plastic wrap that extends past the sides of the pan. Try to make the plastic wrap fit snuggly into the pan without too many bumps or large creases. This will give your cake a nicer appearance when serving. 
  4. Decide which flavor will be the top layer of the cake when it's removed from the pan. This isn't really important for any reasons other than for presentation purposes. A light colored ice cream, such as vanilla, will look nice with colored sprinkles or shaved chocolate on top. A dark colored ice cream such as chocolate would look nice with shredded coconut or chopped nuts on top. 
  5. Scoop the ice cream into the loaf pan and then carefully spread the ice cream along the bottom of the loaf pan with a spatula or the back of a spoon until the layer is even and smooth. This is going to be a mess if your ice cream is too firm, so make sure it is soft enough to spread, but not too soft that it's melted. If the ice cream is too soft, the ice cream is likely to get a little icy when it's refrozen, which isn't so nice. I used vanilla bean ice cream as my first layer. 
  6. If using topping ingredients between ice cream layers, add a this now. Chocolate sauce is very nice, as is a layer of crushed cookies. Or try both! In my cake pictured here, I used generous drizzle of chocolate sauce spread evenly with the back of a spoon and sprinkled crushed graham crackers on top. Note: If you use whole cookies, make sure the cake sets in the freezer longer than just a few hours so that the cookies absorb some moisture and are easier to cut through. If the cookie is too hard, you won't be able to make nice, clean cuts through the center of the cake. 
  7. Scoop the next layer of ice cream on top of the special topping ingredients. Carefully spread this layer of ice cream until it is smooth and even, being careful not to get the topping ingredients all mixed into the ice cream. You want them to be separate layers. I used pumpkin spice ice cream in the middle of my cake. 
  8. If using topping ingredients between ice cream layers, add the next layer now. I used shredded coconut and more crushed graham crackers. 
  9. Scoop the third layer of ice cream on top of the topping ingredients. This will be the bottom layer of your cake when it's removed from the mold. Again, carefully spread this layer of ice cream until smooth and even, being careful not to get the topping ingredients all mixed into the ice cream. I used toasted almond ice cream. 
  10. Cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap and put the pan into the coldest part of your freezer, making sure the pan is level. If it's tilted, your layers might tilt in the pan as well and then freeze in uneven layers. 
  11. Freeze until firm, which may take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Overnight is even better to really firm up the ice cream and especially helpful if you are serving this cake for a summer birthday. 
  12. To unmold the cake for serving, remove the plastic wrap from the surface of the ice cream. Turn the loaf pan upside down on a large plate or platter. Gently tug on the pieces of plastic wrap that extend past the top of the ice cream until the cake pulls free from the pan. Remove the plastic wrap from the surface of the ice cream. 
  13. If desired, garnish the top of the ice cream cake with your choice of topping ingredients.
  14. To serve, have a glass of hot water nearby and dip a knife into the water before slicing each piece of cake. This not only helps the knife cut easily and smoothly into the ice cream, but it also keeps the knife clean between slices so each slice of cake is as pretty as the first.

A slice of  ice cream cake. 

Go crazy and customize the ice cream flavors and layer ingredients with your favorites. The sky's the limit!

One time I made a Vanilla & Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake with whole chocolate wafer cookies layered in the middle for my daughter's birthday. It was a big hit!

I think Vanilla Ice Cream & Orange Sherbet would be a delicious combination. 
A Creamsicle Cake! 
Or Vanilla & Strawberry or Blackberry Ice Cream with graham crackers in the middle? 
Or how about a Coffee & Chocolate Ice Cream?

Did you ever think making a homemade ice cream cake could be this easy?

What flavors would you choose for YOUR personal ice cream cake?


  1. I love ice cream cakes. They do take a bit of organization but are really easy and very forgiving.

  2. I've never done this but I had a friend who once made a beautiful watermelon ice cream cake -- pistachio ice cream was the rind, then a thin layer of vanilla, then strawberry chocolate chip for the middle. She molded it in a bowl and cut out watermelon slices of ice cream. Very fun for a summer cookout.

  3. That is one great looking cake. Love those flavors. And your way you get exactly what you wanted. Good for you! Happy birthday!

  4. what a great idea! Hope you had an overall great birthday!

  5. I've never considered making an ice cream cake, but now I just have to have one. It sounds (and looks) delicious. And I don't see anything wrong either with baking your own birthday cake, as long as it makes YOU happy :)

  6. Woo hoo - great party idea. Have a super week.

  7. Thank you all for checking out my post on how to make your own ice cream cake. I swear I'm still thinking up future flavor combinations in my head in my spare time! ;)

    caite You're right. Ice cream cakes ARE very forgiving. Must be why I like making them. :)

    Beth F Oh I love that watermelon ice cream cake! I'll have to remember that one for next summer.

    Carol Thank you!

    Patty Thanks! I had a lovely birthday.

    Chinoiseries It's incredibly satisfying making your own ice cream cake creation. I hope you try it.

    Carole Thanks! Hope you have a super week, too!

  8. That ice cream cake looks so pretty with all the layers!

  9. Wow, that sounds incredibly brave, I would never attempt an ice cream cake! It looks amazing though!

  10. Ice cream cakes are my favorite! Years ago, my brother-in-law made one that was angel food cake with vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet that was so delicious, I have never forgotten it.

  11. This is more than just ice cream, its a masterpiece! Wow, impressive dessert here.

  12. OMG that looks good! Will have to make that once the weather gets better!

  13. UniflameThanks!

    Joanna You could certainly do this too! If you can soften ice cream on the counter, spread it with a spatula, stick it in the freezer and turn it upside down on a plate, you can do this! I assure you it is as easy as that. You can even skip the topping layers and just use ice creams to make it even easier. Trust me!

    Diane That sounds wonderful! I forgot to suggest using actual cake as one of the layers. I've had that before elsewhere. Yum!

    Pierce Aw, thanks so much!

    Gnoe Definitely give it a go! But don't wait for warm weather on my account. I like ice cream all year long. ;)

  14. It never occurred to me that you could make ice cream cake. This sounds wonderful! I love how you gave it such pretty fall colors and flavors. Happy Birthday! (I believe in celebrating all month!)

  15. My Son loves ice cream cakes. I'll have to try and make him one now that you've shown me how! As for making your own cake? You got what you wanted and isn't that the important part?

    I hope your week went well.

  16. That cake looks really good! and the instructions aren't that hard! I might try this sometime, though really no one really eats that much ice cream in my house, so I might try smaller.
    Thanks for the how to! :D you cake turned out lovely.

  17. Yummmm, Christine! It looks sooo good!! Can I actually ask for the roasted almond ice cream recipe? LOL

  18. I've never made ice cream cake before, but I'm bookmarking this post to try it in the future. I LOVE ice cream cake. :) And, my favorite flavors are: rum raisen, mint ice cream with chocolate chips, vanilla, and pistachio. I don't know how well those would mix, though.

  19. Ok, I didn't miss that there isn't any actual cake in this, right? I love the idea of adding some cookies. But mostly this: Vanilla & Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake. HOLY COW THAT SOUNDS GOOD. I think I might add some reeses to my personal ice cream cake as well.


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