Buckwheat ice cream with rhubarb and sorrel

By James Ramsden •

Did you know that buckwheat, sorrel and rhubarb all come from the same family?  James decided to combine their flavours in an unusual dessert.

“Hipster nosh”, said someone on Twitter when I posted a picture of this dessert. I haven’t ascertained whether they were joking or not, but if they weren’t then it was both ill-informed and symptomatic of the sort of mentality you find in a lot of rut-stuck kitchens – the mistrust of the unknown or so-called trendy ingredient, followed not by inquisition or interest, but kneejerk snobbery.
Without even tasting the dish.
And guess what? It works. It works because buckwheat, sorrel, and rhubarb all come from the same family, polygonaceae. Rhubarb and sorrel provide an acidic tang, buckwheat gives earth and nuttiness. The Japanese make tea with it.
The problem with sorrel is that it goes sludgy brown within seconds when you blend it, which doesn’t look all that pleasant, even if it still tastes fine. The trick is to use Vitamin C/Ascorbic acid, which you can buy in large supermarkets or online.
The other possibly unknown ingredient here is xanthan gum, which again you can buy in the supermarket, and can take or leave but which gives the ice cream a lovely texture.

Buckwheat ice cream with rhubarb and sorrel

Serves 6

For the ice cream
20g buckwheat
600ml double cream
100g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
¼ tsp xantham gum (optional)

For the rhubarb
2 sticks of rhubarb
100g caster sugar
200ml blood orange juice

For the sorrel sauce
100g caster sugar
100ml water
100g sorrel leaves
1 tsp vitamin C
Juice of a lemon


Put a saucepan over a high heat with the buckwheat and toast, stirring regularly, until dark brown and nutty-smelling. Add the cream and warm through, then take off the heat and infuse for an hour. Put back on a gentle heat, and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a heavy bowl until pale. When the cream is boiling, tip straight onto the egg yolks, whisking furiously. Keep whisking, sprinkling in the xantham gum as you do, then leave to cool completely. Churn in an ice cream maker, or freeze, whisking occasionally as it freezes.

Meanwhile, trim the rhubarb and cut into chunks, then gently poach with the sugar and orange juice until tender. Leave to cool.
For the sorrel sauce, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Cool completely. Put the syrup in a blender with the sorrel, vitamin C, and lemon juice, and blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve if you like, I didn’t bother.

Serve the ice cream with the sorrel sauce and poached rhubarb. Hipster nosh indeed.

Inspired?  For more delicious and unusual ice cream recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.


James Ramsden

James Ramsden is a food writer and broadcaster. He has written about food and cookery for the Guardian, the Times, the FT, delicious., Sainsbury's Magazine, London Evening Standard and many others, and presents the Lad that Lunches on BBC Radio 1. His supper club, the Secret Larder, is one of the most popular in London and was described by one journalist as "harder to get into than the Ivy."

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