Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Cheesecake Mountain

I made a cheesecake. I climbed the mountain, and conquered. For the last five years, I’ve tried a multitude of recipes and different ways to make cheesecake, hoping that each one will be the best one. They’ve all failed. The no bake cheesecake was promptly distributed amongst my 4 dogs who were going crazy with the smell, the quick and easy 6 ingredient one was manfully eaten and never mentioned again, and I don’t even want to talk about the others.

The recipes that seemed worth attempting all included using a water bath, which is by far the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. If you know me (and you should by now), you’ll know that I’m inordinately clumsy. Over the last few weeks, I’ve cut myself in three different places on my hands, burnt my fingers on my shiny new frying pan, sliced a finger on glass and dropped countless knives a hairs breadth away from my toes. Pouring boiling hot water into a pan and then gently easing it into an oven is something I should not do without supervision!

Being a Parsi, we get 2 birthdays. One is of course the day we’re born, and the other is the day we’re born according to the Parsi calendar. Double presents, double the fuss, double the cake. My Parsi birthday was on the same day as my husband’s grandmums birthday, so I decided to bake her (us) something using some sweet and sharp flavours.

It was time to test my new kitchen and hopefully improved skills out. I found a relatively easy looking recipe online, which didn’t include using a gargantum amount of cream cheese and decided to go for it. The results were surprisingly yummy, if I do say so myself.

Raspberry & Lemon Cheesecake 

Oh lordy
Adapted from here 

You will need
For the Crust:
2 cups crushed digestive biscuits
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cinnamon powder
½ cup melted butter

For the Filling:
1 pound softened cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups / 500 grams sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

And your Topping:
A handful fresh or frozen raspberries
A few tablespoons raspberry coulis
A few mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 160 ° C.

Assemble your ingredients 
Step 1
In a big mixing bowl, crush the digestive biscuits - I use my hands to break them up, it’s vaguely therapeutic. Add the melted butter & cinnamon powder to your biscuits and keep crushing. It will look like wet sand and taste incredible. I am not too fussy about the size of the pieces, as long as they're small they don’t need to become too fine.

Like the branding shot? 
Biscuit crumb, Ready to be devoured!
Step 2
Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray (if not cooking spray, use some butter).

Step 3
Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. (I struggled with getting my crumbs evenly up the sides, and then eventually decided that it was a labour of love, and I was not being judged on perfection, so let it remain wavy.)

Doesn't that look awesome?

Step 4
Using your trusty kitchenaid (or a regular hand mixer) beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth and free of any lumps.

Step 5
Add the eggs 1 at a time and continue to beat until combined. Add sugar in three parts and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl

Step 6
Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and continue to mix for a few minutes. This will take more time to do if you’re using a hand held mixer. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Make sure you taste the mix, if you feel like you want it more lemon-y, add the zest of another half lemon.

Switch on your electric kettle, and put the water to boil.

Have you seen my awesome new bookstand? 
Step 7
Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan.

Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Feel free to lick the spatula, beaters, mixing bowl after!

Ready to pour captain
Step 8
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil should keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Clumsy me dropped a teeny bit of water into the foil, and then had to pray madly that it didn’t make a difference.

On its way into the oven
Step 9
Bake for 1 hour. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so don’t overcook. I was paranoid that my oven was too hot, so I took it out after 50 minutes, which worked just as well.

Eat your yummy dinner while you wait
Step 10 – making the coulis
Take 100 grams (or thereabouts) of raspberries, add 75 grams of sugar and the juice of a lemon or 2 limes into a bowl. Let it sit for 20 minutes, the sugar will draw the liquid out of the raspberries.

Put in a blender and mix till smooth.

You can then use the coulis as is, or pass it through a sieve to get a smooth, silky sauce.

Refridgerate until needed.

Step 11
Let the cheesecake cool down in the pan for a while, around an hour, till the tin is not so hot.

Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. I made this night before, and so it stayed in the fridge for about 12 hours which is also a perfectly acceptable thing to do! 

Super excited to see it looking so yellow
Another angle

Step 1
Take the cheesecake out of the fridge ten minutes before you want to unmould it. Loosen it from the sides of the pan by running a knife around the inside rim. Release the spring mechanism and Voila! Le Cheesecake!

Oh happy day
Step 2
Un-mold and transfer to a cake plate. I find this the most difficult to do, infact this to me is the moment of truth. I have a giant cake spatula which is very painstakingly eased under the cheesecake, careful not to break too much of the biscuit. IT HELD!!!

Pretty fretty cheesecake
Step 3
Spoon raspberry coulis on top of the cheesecake and smooth it out. It should be a lovely even bright pink.


Place your raspberries here and there (I have NO eye for decoration, so do as you please!) and strew a few mint leaves to finish.

Halfway through decorating

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dig in! The cheesecake is soft and crumbly, the biscuit crunchy and delicious and the raspberry zinging through makes the entire thing absolutely delicious. 

Couldn't resist a close up