Assemble and freeze the cake:
Spray a cake pan that’s 8 inches in diameter and at least 3 inches deep with nonstick cooking spray. (You can also use a springform pan of the same dimensions. Wrap the outside bottom and sides of the pan tightly with aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping in during the unmolding step.) This will make it easier to get the finished cake out of the pan. Line the bottom of the cake pan with a circle of parchment or waxed paper. Then cut two strips of parchment that are 3 inches wide by 14 inches long. Line the sides of the pan with the parchment strips, overlapping them slightly. Spray a bit of nonstick spray (or dot with butter or mist with oil) where the ends overlap to help them adhere.
You will need a 1-inch-high layer of cake for the base of your ice cream cake. To achieve this, take the 8-inch baked cake, place it on a flat work surface, and trim off the domed top portion with a long serrated knife to achieve a level surface. If the cake is more than 2 inches high, split it horizontally to achieve two layers. Place one of the layers in the bottom of the prepared cake pan for the base of your ice cream cake and wrap and freeze the remaining layer for another cake.
If you have just-churned, soft ice cream, transfer it directly from the machine into the cake pan. If your ice cream has been stored in the freezer, allow it to soften in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes; at the same time, put the bowl of your stand mixer, the paddle attachment, and the cake and pan in the freezer to chill while the ice cream softens. When it’s slightly softened, put the ice cream in the mixer bowl and beat on low speed, just until the ice cream is malleable, about 30 seconds. (It doesn’t need to be completely smooth, just spreadable.) Transfer the ice cream to the cake pan.
Use an offset spatula to nudge the ice cream all the way to the sides of the pan, filling any gaps or holes, including any space between the cake and the pan. Rap the filled cake pan sharply on the counter a few times to encourage any air bubbles to rise to the surface and smooth the top. Put the assembled cake in the freezer as soon as it’s filled and freeze overnight.
Unmold the cake:
At least 1 hour (and no more than 12 hours) before serving, unmold the cake. To release the cake from the pan, invert the cake onto a plate or
cardboard round the same size or smaller than the cake pan and run the
pan under warm tap water until the cake loosens. (If you are using a
springform pan, be sure to wrap the seams tightly in aluminum foil
before running under the warm water to prevent water from leaking into
in the cake and ice cream.) Remove the parchment. Top with a serving
plate (or 8-inch round of cardboard) and turn the cake right side up.
Return to the freezer until ready to decorate and serve.
Make the strawberry topping:
Trim and discard the tops of the berries, then quarter the berries lengthwise and transfer to a medium bowl, Sprinkle with the sugar (the amount needed will depend on the sweetness of the berries), vanilla and balsamic and toss gently to combine.
Let stand at least 20 minutes at room temperature to allow the sugar to dissolve.
Decorate and serve the cake:
Remove the cake from the freezer 5 minutes before serving to soften it slightly. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake, and pile the strawberries on top.
To slice the cake, hot, dry knife will yield the cleanest cuts. Dip your knife in a glass of hot water, wipe it clean with a towel, and cut a slice. Repeat between every slice.
Make Ahead Tips
The undecorated cake will keep, covered with foil, in the freezer for 2 days.
Photo: Paige Green © 2012
Reprinted with permission from Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones by Kris
Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough, copyright © 2012. Published
by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.