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Blackberry and Orange Thyme Bombe

Blackberry and Orange Thyme Swiss Roll Ice Cream Bombe

Your eyes start in the middle and follow the dark purple ribbon in a circle. Suddenly it ends and your eyes search for a new beginning, a new ribbon to trace on this frosty dome. Inside it's robed in creamy whites and browns, but the blackberry lanterns persist, you can't escape.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

For me, July 2010 is really about a wedding cake. Every spare moment I've spent baking layers, testing frosting, whipping buttercream. But when Emma told me about this month's challenge, I knew I could use it as an opportunity to hone my techniques, the very ones I'd need for the big cake at the end of the month: planning and execution.

You see, doing a wedding cake for 120 people isn't that different from a bombe of this complexity. In both you have to figure out the cake recipe, how you'll flavor everything, how to assemble the different pieces, and how to break it into manageable steps given your time and resources. Oh yeah, and the heat if you're talking July and you live in a place that doesn't believe in A/C (like Seattle). That's the planning muscle I exercised.

Execution means, in this context, taking things slowly, without shortcuts that would compromise the finished cake. For the jelly roll component, it meant straining blackberry seeds out of the jam so the cake had a smooth texture. It also meant freezing the pieces every step of the way so that there were clean borders between the ice creams and cake. And then waiting a whole 24 hours to unmold so the knife wouldn't push softer layers together, but respected the borders frozen in place.

A little obsessive compulsive? Maybe. But if you were the bride, you'd want me to practice too, to take the time I needed to get it done right. And after this performance, I think I'm ready for the big day.

All recipes are at The Daring Kitchen, but I'm showing my variations and tips below.

Blackberry and Orange Thyme Swiss Roll Ice Cream Bombe

Sponge Cake:

  • As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, dust it well with powdered sugar and roll it as tight as you can in a flour sack towel until cool.
  • Unroll it and soak the sponge well with simple syrup. I made a simple syrup flavored with orange thyme (the herb orange thyme, not orange + thyme) from our garden, and it was fruity and floral, and a perfect compliment to the white cake.
  • Strain out the blackberry seeds in the jam before applying a layer to the sponge.
  • After applying the jam, roll it tightly and soak with additional simple syrup, and then wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Freeze at least 24 hours before cutting.
  • Cut 1/2" slices of cake - enough for structure, but not so large that it is unwieldy. Try to keep the slices the same size.

Ice cream:

  • Pick complimentary flavors, and regulate the amounts so nothing overwhelms. You still want to taste the cake and syrup.
  • Use one flavor to line the bowl, probably a solid color because it will peek through the holes between the cake slices.


  • Line the bowl with plastic wrap first.
  • Arrange the Swiss roll slices with thought. Do all the swirls go the same way, or do you want them alternating?
  • Melt the ice cream slightly, for something like 10 minutes at room temperature. Use a hand mixer to loosen more, if necessary.
  • After placing the cake layers, line the inside of the bombe with the first flavor and put everything back in the freezer to harden, at least 4 hours.
  • Add the second flavor and allow it to firm up before adding the third.
  • If you have extra cake slices, use it to 'top' the ice cream before wrapping it with plastic. Put a weight on the top to pack everything in tightly.
  • Freeze 24 hours before serving. 

Other pointers:

  • Too many strong flavors get muddy. Pick one dominant flavor, try to reflect it in the cake and ice cream, and use other flavors to accent. I used the tiniest bit of milk chocolate ice cream to bring a richness to the blackberries and cream. The vanilla became the creamy backbone, but it didn't distract at all.
  • Simple syrup is your friend. Use it. Flavor it, color it, take advantage of it.
  • If you put fresh or real fruit in your ice cream, use a serrated knife to saw slices. That way you'll cut the fruit, not just smoosh it. I could have cut my blackberries a bit more before mixing them in. Would've made it easier to cut.

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honestly this blog made me starving every time, I love food so much, I also like cooking, you provide all food from different country, but it was always look delicious and worth it to try.. awesome
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great post

Doing a wedding cake for 120 people isn't that different from a bombe of this complexity. In both you have to figure out the cake recipe, how you'll flavor everything, how to assemble the different pieces, and how to break it into manageable steps given your time and resources.

I asked Alexey if there was

I asked Alexey if there was anything I could bake for him.


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Very nice!

Very nice! Great to find anothe Seattle food blogger. You have a new follower!

I really like the flavours

I really like the flavours and colour in your cake. Just perfect.

Wow... Your attention to

Wow... Your attention to detail is amazing, and your dedication to your art is inspirational! I love the way you combined beautiful aesthetics and amazing flavors! I would love to come to your kitchen and learn some of your tips and tricks. Amazing job! Thank you for sharing!!

Hugs all around, thank you!

Sarah - Aww, shucks! Thanks! I can't wait to see pictures of the carrot cake you made last month. The wedding cake I was working on is done, and I'll have it posted next week too. This week is all about wrapping flowers and cleaning strawberries!

Emma - Your stuff never looks awful. In fact, I don't think you realize just how much of an inspiration you are to me. Your expertise and patience are immense, and I feel like my food is always better when I've talked it over with you.

Shaz - Greetings to Sydney! Thanks for the vote of confidence - you know how sometimes bakers can be compulsive...

Rochelle - So glad you stopped by, it's so nice to meet other Daring Bakers. Congrats on your awesome ice cream cake, and on getting a willing partner to devour it for you!

Shelley - Yeah, people say I can get a little carried away sometimes, but you know how it goes. When you finally get a vision in your head about how you want something to look, it's just a matter of time before you figure out what it takes to make that happen. Obsession is my middle name. I really liked your apple pie inspired ice cream cake too (I couldn't comment on your blog b/c I use the Name/URL combo, which isn't available in your comment form). I think I'm going to think about another variation of this cake with yours in mind. I'm thinking bananas foster or cherries jubilee!

Emma (from Poires au Chocolate) - Thank you so much, Emma! I remember stopping by your blog when you did that amazing croquembouche box - what a lovely site, you must have been so happy with the results (I would have been!). To answer your question about the simple syrup - does it make the cake icy - the answer is no. In fact, I regularly soak all my cakes, freezer-bound or not - and because the proportion of sugar to water is high enough, there's not really enough water to crystalize into ice. That, and the water would be so small (stored in the walls of the cake crumb) that the second it hits room temp it's already melted. I use this technique with large wedding cakes too, and I've never had crystals, even when I'm putting several cups of liquid in per cake. The cakes are never floating in syrup, though. Just wet enough to barely handle, especially if I'm going to freeze it. Let me know if you have any other questions about that step - more than happy to help!

July Challenge

The blackberry swiss roll does have a hypnotic effect doesn't it? Great job what a beautiful clean cake. I am sure your wedding cake will go flawlessly!

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That looks amazing. I picked the right mentor! :)

Looks awesome! My swiss roll

Looks awesome! My swiss roll looks awful compared to yours.

Love the purple

Great work, such perfection and precision. Lovely colours and flavours too. The wedding cake is in safe hands :)

This cake turned out

This cake turned out gorgeous! Love your swiss rolls with the black berry filling :D


Your bombe looks fantastic, and based on that, alone, I would totally hire you to make just about anything for me! The blackberry swirls really are mesmerizing, and I am amazed at how clean and beautiful the rolls are, not to mention the obvious care you took in each and every step of the dessert. Fantastic job on the challenge.

Looks incredibly neat. I

Looks incredibly neat. I hadn't thought about using syrups with the swiss roll, that's a very good point. Does it make the cake a bit icy when frozen?