Childhood Cravings.

Posted on November 4, 2011

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There comes a time in my adult life where I chronically crave cheesecake, perhaps this stems from the large quantity I ate at every family birthday celebration as a child, whatever the reason I needed a fix. Although it is as easy to buy a store-bought cheesecake as it is to buy milk, finding one which can rival an incredibly indulgent home-baked cheesecake can be a challenge. I have yet to find a cheesecake on any menu that can rival the taste of home-baked goodness. I find that there are too many cake shops which have forgotten that cheesecake was created to show off the cheese. That sweet cream cheese, which cannot be replicated, too many cheesecakes are either all cream, or sour cream based. Which is fine, but it lacks that cheesy all American hit. Although ricotta cheesecake was originated in Greece, it is the American’s which took it to new heights. The invention of Philadelphia cheese essentially created the New York Baked cheesecake. Baked or set, I love both but prefer the more traditional baked variety.

I have fond memories of my mother baking cheesecake in Canada. The aroma filled the house and lifted our spirits. A simple pleasure I took for granted. This recipe, although nowhere near as great as my mothers, is the best original baked cheesecake recipe I have tried. Simple, aromatic and adaptable to any dressing or side. I served it with macerated strawberries and have omitted alcohol, to make it cheaper. However, if you have Grand Marnier, use it to replace orange juice. The subtle lemon flavour in the cheesecake also pairs well with fresh fruit. The best tip I can give is to spoil yourself, don’t skimp on ingredients, as it just wont suffix. This isn’t something to eat daily but as a treat to share with loved ones. Get Baking!

Baked Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries.

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s recipe.
Ingredients:
9Inch Springform pan.
Crust:
 350g Digestive biscuits
3 tbsp castor sugar
120g unsalted butter
 Filling:
260g Mascarpone cream
500g Philadelphia cheese, chill at room temperature, cubed.
1/4 Cup heavy cream, plus two extra tbsp.
1 Cup castor sugar
4 eggs
2 egg yolks only
2 vanilla pods, seeds used only(replace with 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tsp lemon juice
Grated zest of lemon
 Macerated berries:
1 punnet strawberries
Juice from 1 orange or 2tbsp Grand Marnier 
1/2 cup castor sugar
Zest from half orange
 

 Method:

  1. Add halved strawberries, sugar, orange juice and orange zest to a pot. Mix. Cook on low heat, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid is syrupy. Usually 5-10 mins. Remove and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 160%C
  3. Crush digestive biscuits in a bowl/food processor, till they resemble fine crumbs. Stir in sugar and melted butter.
  4. Press the crumbs over the bottom of springform pan and sightly up the sides. Make sure it is pressed firmly, it should not be loose.
  5. Bake in oven for 10 mins, untill crust is brown and set. Remove from oven and cool in pan, (can chill it in freezer if needed)
  6. Boil some water for water bath. Set aside.
  7. In a electric stand mixer, combine cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar and beat on low to mix, raise speed settings to medium for three minutes, just untill mixture is well combined.
  8. In a seperate bowl, beat eggs, and vanilla together with a fork, then add lemon juice and rind.
  9. Turn the electric mixer on, and recommence mixing cheese mixture on low, slowly add egg mixture and mix to combine.
  10. It is important that you refrain from overmixing, this only encourages the cake to split.
  11. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve, and push through any lumps.
  12. Wrap springform pan in three layers of aluminium foil, very tight to ensure that water does not seep into the cracks.
  13. Pour cheesecake batter into cheesecake pan. Put the pan inside of a large roasting pan.
  14. Add enough boiling water to reach half way up the side of pan.
  15. Bake for one hour. To check cheesecake, check to see if it wiggles in middle. If so it needs longer to cook, return to oven and cook in  minute intervals.
  16. Allow to chill in water, untill completely cool. Then refrigerate in pan overnight.
  17. To eat, remove the sringform pan spring and loosen the cake onto a plate. Serve with a pouring of the salty caramel cream or a scoop of macerated strawberries.

Tips:

  • It is important not to over-mix the batter, always soften cheese and cream to room temperature before using, so that mixing is quick and simple. If there are any clumps, pour the mixture through a fine strainer twice.
  • Turn the oven off 5 minutes before its ready, to ensure that the cake won’t crack and make sure the cake cools in the water bath it was cooked in.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Wrap the pan properly in foil. I have made many cheesecakes, whereby I rushed this step and ended up with a soggy base!
  • The cake is versatile and will suit most fresh fruits and syrups. Get creative.
  • Salty caramel cream will harden and can be kept in the fridge in a tight closed/sterilised jar. To use, pop in microwave and heat for a couple of seconds on high.
 
 
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