The best ice cream I’ve ever had in my entire life was a simple milk ice cream in a small agrigelateria in North Piedmont. The whole concept of “agri-food” was born and developed in Italy to cut the middleman and allow the farmers to get a better payment for their goods while offering a better final product to the consumers. For example, a cow farmer, instead of selling his milk to a big company, would retain his raw material and use it to make yogurts, cheeses and so on, that the customers could come to buy directly from his own farm. This idea further developed into agri-restaurants where, you guessed it, the customers can even dine in the farms, with meals prepared out of the farm’s seasonal produce. The culture of “field to fork” food is so traditional and authentic, that people from the city longed to immerse themselves into these bucolic realities even more and that’s how agri-tourism was born, where the customer can stay overnight in the farm, enjoying a thoroughly holistic experience.
The agrigelateria I mentioned at the beginning is exactly what transpires from its name itself: a dairy farm whose milk is used to make ice cream. The cows are either in the backyard or up the closest mountain, roaming free and eating fresh alpine grass, while you are sitting in the gelateria, enjoying a kilometer zero gelato.
We tasted several different flavors in that agrigelateria, but the best one was definitely the fior di latte. Fior di latte, literally translated “flower of milk”, is the most basic gelato there is, just made with plain dairy and sugar. This gelato can taste either very plain or superb, all depending on the main ingredient: the milk.
For Fior di Latte Gelato I suggest you try to use the most unprocessed milk you can possibly find in the store, or even better, buy the milk directly from a dairy farm, if that’s possible in your area. Fortunately here in Finland we have Valio’s organic vanhanajan täysmaito (not sponsored, just my honest opinion), whis is non-homogenized full fat milk, that works wonderfully in this recipe where the milk is the sole protagonist.
This gelato recipe calls for a churner. I used my Smeg Nordic’s churner, which I’ve used already for three summers and works as if it was new.
Fior di latte, if made with high quality ingredients, will taste absolutely divine just by itself, but if you want to elevate it even more, top it with fresh berries, chocolate chips, edible flowers or some flavoured honey. My suggestion to you is to try the Spruce Tip Honey, a delicious honey with forestry notes given by the spruce tips. This is a great way to store your spruce tips harvest through the winter, along with the good old freezer storing.
Still a word before giving you the recipe. Gelato recipes are basically chemistry formulas. There has to be a perfect balance between sugars, fats and solids in order to create that perfect gelato texture. So, if I usually encourage people to play around with my recipes and twist them to their own taste, I would not recommend doing that with this particular recipe, but I would stick to the doses given.
Gelato Fior di Latte and Spruce Tip Honey
- Ice Cream Maker
For the Gelato Fior di Latte
- 600 ml full fat milk
- ¼ of a vanilla pod
- 160 ml heavy cream
- 45 g powdered milk
- 5 g corn starch
- 100 g caster sugar
- 80 g dextrose*
For the Spruce Tip Honey
- 50 g honey
- 10 g spruce tips
- Fresh or frozen spruce tips
- I recommend preparing the Spruce Tip Honey at least one day in advance, simply by finely chopping the spruce tips and mixing them with the honey. You can make bigger batches and store them in an airtight container for a few months.
- Place all the milk but 50 ml, the sugar and dextrose into a saucepan.
- Carve the vanilla pod and release its seeds and the pod itself into the saucepan.
- Bring the milk to boil, stirring regularly.
- In a separate bowl, mix the 50 ml of milk left with the corn starch and the powdered milk. Add the mixture to the milk, stir vigorously. Turn the heat off.
- Prepare a large bowl with ice cold water in it and place the saucepan on it, in order to quickly lower the temperature or the mixture.
- Add the heavy cream once the mixture will be lukewarm.
- Place the ice cream mixture into the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Power the ice cream machine, pour the mixture into it and start churning. The ice cream will be ready within 30 minutes.
- Top the fior di latte gelato with some Spruce Tip Honey and fresh spruce tips.