In search for the perfect ice cream recipe, I came across this wonderful site by David Lebovitz which explains how to make ice cream the old fashioned way - without an ice cream machine.
Check out his other recipes as they are fantastic!
People have been making ice cream far longer than the invention of electricity so there's no reason you can't make ice cream and sorbets at home without a machine.
The advantage to using an electric or hand-cranked machine is that the final result will be smoother and creamier. Freezing anything from liquid-to-solid means you're creating hard ice crystals, so if you're making it by hand, as your ice cream or sorbet mixture freezes, you want to break up those ice crystals as much as possible so your final results are as smooth and creamy as possible.
Not everyone has the space or the budget for a machine, so here's how you can make your own ice cream at home without a churner. Start with an ice cream recipe that is custard-based for the smoothest texture possible.
Making Ice Cream Without A Machine
1. Prepare your ice cream mixture, then chill it over an ice bath.
2. Put a bowl made of plastic, stainless steel or something durable in the freezer, and pour your custard mixture into it.
3. After forty-five minutes, open the door and check it.
As it starts to freeze near the edges, remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Really beat it up and break up any frozen sections. Return to freezer.
4. Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it's freezing. If you have one, you can use a hand-held mixer for best results, or use a stick belnder (like a bamix or braun) or hand-held mixer.
You can also use just a spatula or a sturdy whisk along with some modest physical effort.
5. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. It will likely take 2-3 hours to be ready.
Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks
2 cup heavy cream
A few drops of vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk with the tip of a paring knife. Add the bean pod to the milk.
2. Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Rinse the vanilla bean and put it back into the custard and cream to continue steeping. Chill thoroughly, then remove the vanilla bean and freeze.