Recipe Review

I Tried the Weird 2-Ingredient Ice Cream Bread. Could It Possibly Be Any Good?

published May 19, 2020
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Credit: Eric Kim

Raise your hand if you’ve made banana bread in the last three months. What about sourdough bread? No-knead bread? And now what about … ice cream bread? Yes, I’m being totally serious. According to Google Trends, ice cream bread is hot right now (or should I say cold?), so I obviously had to figure out what the deal was.

You might be asking yourself: What the heck is ice cream bread? This is a good place to start. After doing some research, I discovered that ice cream bread is a quick bread that contains two ingredients and these two ingredients alone: melted ice cream and self-rising flour. This made sense to me, as ice cream is basically eggs and cream (i.e., fat) and self-rising flour is all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. “It’s sort of like using mayonnaise to make a cake,” friend and baking expert Erin McDowell tells me.

Many bloggers point to the November 2005 issue of Southern Living as an early source for two-ingredient ice cream bread: “I honestly do not remember where I found this recipe,” writes Grace Pulley of Just a Pinch Recipes. “I think it was from a Southern Living magazine.” In recent weeks, likely due to the astronomical increase in homemade bread-making during the quarantine, this trendy mash-up food has gained popularity again, resurfacing on blogs and Instagram feeds, and spiking in Google searches.

Eager to try this recipe out for myself, and to answer the questions we’re all asking (why would you do this? Does it taste good?), I headed into my kitchen. (Here’s the recipe I used.)

Credit: Eric Kim

How to Make 2-Ingredient Ice Cream Bread

First, I preheated the oven to 350°F. Then, I took the pint (aka 2 cups) of vanilla ice cream out of my freezer and set it on the counter to melt. When my ice cream was pretty melty, I transferred it to a bowl and smoothed it out with a rubber spatula.

Reader, nothing prepared me for this next step. I measured out 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour and added it to the bowl with the melted ice cream. I started to stir … and it felt so wrong. I could hear the ice cream’s voice in my head, begging me to stop: You’re ruining me! (Sorry, ice cream!) But I kept on.

The recipe I was using recommends a couple of optional mix-ins: rainbow sprinkles and chocolate chips. Since I only had the former in my pantry, I decided to sprinkle some of that in. Immediately the color dye from the sprinkles started to bleed into the batter, forming at first a gorgeous streaky rainbow effect. But as I transferred it to my greased loaf pan and tried to smooth out the top, the colors melded into a homogeneous grayish purple color. Horrified, I rummaged through my cabinets for more sprinkles (I have a lot of sprinkles, okay?), and covered the purple mess I made with a shower of crunchy, shiny candied stars and bobs. I thought to myself: Oh god, I’ve created the Lumpy Space Princess of homemade breads.

Eager to get this over with, I baked my lumpy space bread in the oven for about 35 minutes, after which I let it cool, transferred it to a cutting board, and sliced into it.

I was shocked. The crumb was nice — less cake-like and more bread-like, but still soft and fluffy (especially when eaten warm). Also, it was just so pretty: the purple ombré top, complete with a kaleidoscope of pink, blue, green, and purple sprinkles dotting the pale blonde base. I felt like a princess eating this bread.

And that’s the second thing that shocked me: It tasted great. At first, I was put off by the dissonance in my brain — it wasn’t very sweet, not like ice cream or cake anyway — but as I took more bites and switched my brain from thinking of this as dessert and more as bread (like one you would eat for breakfast or, heck, with dinner), I started to really appreciate the subtle vanilla flavor. (For context: My mom, who hates sweet desserts, would love this.)

Curious to see how this bread would taste toasted, I popped a slice into my toaster and let it get nice and crispy at the edges. I took a bite and loved it even more. I spread some butter and strawberry jam on top and enjoyed it with my afternoon cup of tea.

Credit: Eric Kim

So Wait, Is This Actually Worth Melting a Tub of Ice Cream For?

Now, would I make this again? Maybe. Considering how simple and easy it was to put together, and with the end result being a perfectly good (albeit rainbow-sprinkled) loaf of bread. Why not? Especially when yeast is at a premium right now, this is kind of a nice white bread alternative should you happen to have some vanilla ice cream on hand (just skip the sprinkles).

But that’s the catch: I almost never have ice cream just “on hand.” I eat it right away, with a spoon, in front of the television. The only downside I see to this recipe, then, is using up an entire pint of ice cream that could’ve very well been dessert. On the other hand, one could also see it like this: Sacrifice a mere pint of ice cream and gain a whole loaf of bread.

So it’s really up to you and your value system.

Credit: Eric Kim

Some Tips for Making Ice Cream Bread

  • Make sure your ice cream is completely melted. This will help your flour stir in more smoothly. My ice cream was, admittedly, still a little cold and thick, which meant the flour particles weren’t evenly moistened, making for a slightly lumpy batter.
  • Do not overmix the dough. You don’t want to work the gluten in the flour too much, or you’ll get a tough bread. The joy of this ice cream bread lies in its light, fluffy texture.
  • Don’t have self-rising flour? No problem. Just follow King Arthur Flour’s measurements and use 2 cups regular all-purpose flour plus 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • Have fun with the mix-ins. I’ve seen people add fresh fruit, like strawberries, and chocolate (I imagine this would taste bomb with shards of melted chocolate chunks throughout; sort of like a chocolate chip muffin situation).
  • You could also change up the ice cream flavor. I imagine this would help slide this bread further into the realm of dessert, something sweeter than just vanilla: Try butter-pecan, for instance, or dulce de leche, even cookies and cream. Just make sure it’s not low-fat or dairy-free.

Have you tried ice cream bread before? Let us know in the comments!