The Unlikely Predecessor To The Ice Cream Cake

As a kid, nothing was more exciting than having an ice cream cake for your birthday. Whether the OG Carvel Cookie Puss cake or the number one rated Cookies and Creamery cake from Cold Stone Creamery, apple pie is the only thing more American than ice cream cake. But the cream cake maybe actually be from jolly old England.

First, a detour to Italy. While versions of ice cream abound throughout history, the first to write down a sorbet recipe was Antonio Latini, a 17th Century Neopolitan chef, according to PBS. He's also credited with making a milk-based version, so food historians consider him the inventor of ice cream. How ice cream came together with cake is where it gets its British roots.

An English dessert, called a trifle, became popular in England in the mid-1700s. Taste of Home explains a trifle was made simply by layering fruit, bits of sponge cake soaked in alcohol, and custard into a bowl. The desert was named for its ease of assembly –- a trifle meaning unimportant.

The direct descendent of the ice cream cake

Southern Living notes that the cake used in trifles was often leftovers. It was made by soaking the cake bits in alcohol; its creamy custard masks the dryness of the no-longer-fresh cake. Biscuits (the British version of cookies) can stand in for the dry cake, says What's Cooking America

According to Food Time Line, the fancy Victorian-era ice cream bombe, a direct descendent of the trifle, was the first version of an ice cream cake. Also called bombe glacée for its French origins, this molded desert used old cake, fruit, and custard layered on top of ice cream. Recipe Tips explains that ice cream was spread in the bottom of a mold pan and frozen. Once ready, bits of old cake were layered with fruit and custard and returned to the freezer until ready to serve. The result turned out to be an elegant, layered dessert.

Since ice cream cake is still a trifle to make, creating one at home is simple. A S'mores Ice Cream Cake or a tri-color Spumoni can soothe any cravings.