Knickerbocker Glory Recipe | Living

There is a lot of beauty to be found in cinema and Living is a wonderful example. This film is pure heart, with a story that makes you sit back and find the beauty in your own life, no matter how significant it seems. My Living inspired Knickerbocker Glory recipe creates the perfect sweet treat for anyone wanting wholesome sweetness in every spoonful.

About the film:

A remake of the Japanese film Ikiru (1952) by Kurosawa Akira, Living (2022) is a dream come true for the film’s writer Ishiguro Kazuo. It is reported that Mr. Ishiguro had been wanting to remake Ikiru with Bill Nighy as the central character for years, and happened to share a taxi with him and his wife after a party one night.

It was then that he pitched the idea. After Bill Nighy watched Ikiru for the first time, he didn’t hesitate to sign on for Living

I LOVE this little tidbit in film history. What a way to fulfill a dream! Just goes to show that anything can happen.

Ikiru was written by Kurosawa Akira, Hashimoto Shinobu and Oguni Hideo. Ishiguro drew heavily from this original material, writing it as an English language film. He set it in 1950s London, with the truly excellent Bill Nighy at the centre of it all. Oliver Hermanus took on the role of director and did a rather superb job. 

The story follows Nighy as Williams – a lonely council bureaucrat – as he lives each day near enough the same.

Struggling to get through the mounting pile of paperwork on his desk and failing to have a fulfilling relationship with his adult son. Williams is seen as the head of the table with little sense of humour and not one to be disturbed by his colleagues. When he is diagnosed as having mere months left of his life, Williams takes a step back and re-evaluates his life. 

Inspired by a couple of his young colleagues in particular, Williams leaves his desk and experiences a different side of life. One of those colleagues is a young woman who has a zest for life and makes him see more of how life can be wonderful if you make it so.

This young woman, played by the very talented Aimee Lou Wood, becomes a dear friend of his and helps shift his perspective on the world. 

Upon returning to work, Williams vows to complete a project that a few local women have been trying to push the council to do something about. In the last few months of his life, Williams makes a real difference to the community.

Living is a really beautiful story.

The way the film plays pays homage to Ikiru in many ways, right down to the aspect ratio. It celebrates Ikiru in such a warming way and fully deserves all the nominations it received during the 2023 awards season.

Bill Nighy’s Oscar nomination for this film was a particularly well deserved recognition. His performance in Living is both natural and extraordinary at the same time. There is a warmth to it that I haven’t seen since his work in About Time (2013) and despite the similarities, that was a different vibe altogether.

Living is a lovely, evening-in-with-a-cup-of-tea sort of film. I highly recommend it for exactly that. Be warned: tissues may be needed.

About the bake:

I’m not sure I can really call this a bake as there is technically no baking involved, but we’re rolling with it. 

There is a particular scene where Williams takes Wood’s character, Margaret, for a fancy lunch. When the time comes for the dessert trolley to stop at their table, Margaret gets excited over the thought of having a Knickerbocker Glory.

For those that don’t know, a Knickerbocker Glory is a traditional British sundae-style dessert. The ice cream is usually vanilla and it’s topped with a raspberry coulis, whipped cream, nuts and fresh fruit. There are varying versions based on people’s tastes, but strawberries are pretty common in a Knickerbocker Glory recipe. 

I made my own ice cream which I based on Jane’s Patisserie’s no-churn ice cream recipes (they are amazingly tasty) but if you’ve got a firm favourite then by all means, buy it for these sundaes! I will say, homemade ice cream definitely has an edge that makes it tastier than shop-bought. 

No copyright infringement intended.

Primarily, homemade ice cream doesn’t contain a load of chemicals and preservatives that you often find in shop-bought ice cream.

It also doesn’t contain the added stuff that they put in ice cream to make it ‘soft serve’, so bear that in mind when serving your homemade ice cream.

Essentially, it just means you need to give it a few minutes after getting it out of the freezer to soften, that’s all! Homemade no-churn ice cream is also super easy to make with only three ingredients in this recipe. 

You may notice in the pictures of my sundaes in this Knickerbocker Glory recipe that you can’t really see the ice cream scoops. That, friends, is because I built these sundaes and took pictures/videos of them on an incredibly humid day in June. Let me tell you, they melted fast.

If you’re using this Knickerbocker Glory recipe on a hot day, I recommend serving one at a time – as noted in my recipe below – to prevent serving melted ice cream! It’s all part of the fun, though.

When it comes to the vanilla flavouring, always go for vanilla extract, not essence.

Vanilla essence isn’t the proper stuff and isn’t great for the planet. Vanilla extract, on the other hand, is much closer to vanilla in its raw form. It’s even better if you can get vanilla bean extract as that provides a delightful taste and you don’t need much at all, so it lasts for many bakes.

In terms of decoration for this Knickerbocker Glory recipe, I whipped the cream myself as it’s super easy to do. I opted for flaked almonds and strawberries to go with the raspberry coulis, but the choice of fruit and nuts is completely personal. You can add any berry and change it up with the nuts, or even go without if nuts are an issue for you. 

To make a connection to Ikiru and the overall Japanese connections Living has, I added some lovely little cherry blossom decorations that I bought from my local supermarket. They add an extra sweet texture and look so pretty as a finish to my knickerbocker glories.

Plus, cherry blossoms have such a significance in Japanese culture (look up Sakura if you’re intrigued) so it made sense to add them into a British dessert, bringing both the original film and the remake together.

Top Tips:

  • Homemade ice cream like this is best made the day before you’re looking to serve it so that it can freeze overnight. But, it can be ready after at least 5 hours.
  • Go by taste when it comes to the flavour. You’ll be able to tell when the vanilla is just right once you’ve tasted it.
  • The toppings are mostly the traditional toppings for a classic knickerbocker glory recipe, but feel free to personlise or adapt it to suit your preferences.
  • As there are no added chemicals in homemade ice cream to make it soft serve, remember to get your ice cream out of the freezer 5 or so minutes before you’re looking to serve it. That way it won’t be so difficult to scoop!

This Knickerbocker Glory recipe is delicious and great for the summer months.

Or whenever you fancy a sundae, to be honest. They are light, sweet and fresh with a multitude of textures. You can personalise them in any way you want and get a crack out of making your own ice cream! 

If you haven’t seen Living yet, then I hope you enjoy it and find it as warming as I did. Then perhaps you go on to watch Ikiru and love it just as much. I also hope you love this recipe for knickerbocker glories!

Happy baking (or freezing?), happy eating!

Ingredients:

Knickerbocker Glory recipe ice cream:

  • 600ml [22.5 oz] double cream [whipping cream]
  • 397g [1 tin] condensed milk
  • 2 tsp (or to taste) vanilla extract 

Decoration:

  • 150g [1 punnet] fresh raspberries
  • 300ml [11.25 oz] double cream [whipping cream]
  • 1 tbsp icing [confectioners] sugar
  • Flaked or chopped nuts of your choice
  • Fresh strawberries or fresh berries of your choice
  • Cherry blossom decorations

Serves:  8 – 10 +

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Freezing time: at least 4 – 5 hours; preferably overnight

Decorating time: 15 minutes

Method:

Ice cream:

  1. Make your homemade ice cream. It will need at least 4 hours to freeze but it is preferable to freeze it overnight.
  2. Pour the cream and condensed milk into a large bowl. Using an electric whisk, whisk until well combined and the cream feels airier than when you started. This will only take 5 or so minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and whip again. Taste it here and add more vanilla if preferred. 
  4. Pour into a 2lb loaf tin or a tin/container that can be stored in the freezer safely. Feel free to split the mixture into multiple containers if needed! You can use cake tins if you have them.
  5. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible. 

Decoration:

  1. When ready to decorate and serve, prepare enough sundae glasses or bowls and set aside. 
  2. Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk using an electric whisk until the cream can hold itself (but isn’t overly stiff!). Add the sugar and whip in briefly. Set aside or place in the fridge until needed.
  3. Get the ice cream from your freezer and leave to soften a little on the side while you prepare the rest of the decorations.
  4. Wash the fresh raspberries and put them into another bowl. Blitz or mash them until they are mostly liquid. Set aside.
  5. Wash and chop (if necessary) the fresh fruit that you are using to decorate. Drain and leave to the side. Make sure your nuts and cherry blossom decorations are ready too.
  6. If wanting to, add the whipped cream to a piping bag with a cupcake frosting nozzle on the end and set aside.
  7. Scoop at least three scoops of ice cream into a sundae glass/bowl. If it is particularly warm weather, do one sundae at a time and serve as you go. Otherwise, scoop and decorate the lot.
  8. If the ice cream is hard to scoop, boil the kettle and sit the spoon in a bowl with the freshly boiled water to heat it up. Then try again.
  9. Using a spoon, drizzle raspberry coulis over the ice cream.
  10. Pipe a generous amount of whipped cream in a large swirl on the top.
  11. Sprinkle on your fresh fruit, nuts and cherry blossom decorations.
  12. Serve immediately and enjoy!

This wonderful Knickerbocker Glory recipe creates sundaes that need to be served immediately. But, the homemade ice cream will last weeks in your freezer. Keep for no more than 2 – 3 months (if it lasts that long!). The whipped cream can be kept in the fridge but should be used within 3 days. Enjoy!

Recipe card:

Knickerbocker Glory Sundaes | Living

Laura – Flavour of the Film
Light and summery classic Knickerbocker Glory recipe topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit, flaked almonds and cherry blossom decorations, celebrating Living.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

Ice cream:

  • 600 ml [22.5 oz] double cream [whipping cream]
  • 397 g [1 tin] condensed milk
  • 2 tsp or to taste vanilla extract

Decoration:

  • 150 g [1 punnet] fresh raspberries
  • 300 ml [11.25 oz] double cream [whipping cream]
  • 1 tbsp icing [confectioners] sugar
  • Flaked or chopped nuts of your choice
  • Fresh strawberries or fresh berries of your choice
  • Cherry blossom decorations

Instructions
 

  • Make your homemade ice cream. It will need at least 4 hours to freeze but it is preferable to freeze it overnight.
  • Pour the cream and condensed milk into a large bowl. Using an electric whisk, whisk until well combined and the cream feels airier than when you started. This will only take 5 or so minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and whip again. Taste it here and add more vanilla if preferred.
  • Pour into a 2lb loaf tin or a tin/container that can be stored in the freezer safely. Feel free to split the mixture into multiple containers if needed! You can use cake tins if you have them.
  • Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.
  • When ready to decorate and serve, prepare enough sundae glasses or bowls and set aside.
  • Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk using an electric whisk until the cream can hold itself (but isn’t overly stiff!). Add the sugar and whip in briefly. Set aside or place in the fridge until needed.
  • Get the ice cream from your freezer and leave to soften a little on the side while you prepare the rest of the decorations.
  • Wash the fresh raspberries and put them into another bowl. Blitz or mash them until they are mostly liquid. Set aside.
  • Wash and chop (if necessary) the fresh fruit that you are using to decorate. Drain and leave to the side. Make sure your nuts and cherry blossom decorations are ready too.
  • If wanting to, add the whipped cream to a piping bag with a cupcake frosting nozzle on the end and set aside.
  • Scoop at least three scoops of ice cream into a sundae glass/bowl. If it is particularly warm weather, do one sundae at a time and serve as you go. Otherwise, scoop and decorate the lot.
  • If the ice cream is hard to scoop, boil the kettle and sit the spoon in a bowl with the freshly boiled water to heat it up. Then try again.
  • Using a spoon, drizzle raspberry coulis over the ice cream.
  • Pipe a generous amount of whipped cream in a large swirl on the top.
  • Sprinkle on your fresh fruit, nuts and cherry blossom decorations.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

This wonderful Knickerbocker Glory recipe creates sundaes that need to be served immediately but the homemade ice cream will last weeks in your freezer. Keep for no more than 2 – 3 months (if it lasts that long!). The whipped cream can be kept in the fridge but should be used within 3 days. Enjoy!
Keyword cherry blossoms, fresh fruit, homemade ice cream, knickerbocker glories, knickerbocker glory recipe, living, nuts, sundaes, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream

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