Sunday, 2 September 2007

A cake of cheese

Today dear readers I bring you not my thoughts on this journey that is life. Instead I bring you a gift. A present from me to you to thank you for reading my humble Ponderings and Ruminations. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for.....the greatest cheesecake in the world! I joke not. Read on for a recipe that, providing you are a cheesecake lover such as myself, could change your life.

New York Cheesecake

For the crust
3 oz butter
10 digestive biscuits (5 oz) made into fine crumbs
1tbsp golden caster sugar
(Depending on how much crust you like, you may wish to increase the quantities by half again.)

For the filling (all ingredients should be at room temperature)
3x300g packs full fat soft cream cheese
9oz golden caster sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 and a half tsp vanilla extract
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 and a half tsp lemon juice
3 large eggs. plus 1 yolk
284ml carton soured cream

For the topping
142ml carton soured cream
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

  1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas mark 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so that the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing filling.
  2. For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas mark 9. In a table top mixer (you could use a hand held mixer) fit the paddle attachment, beat the soft cheese at a medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle twice.
  3. Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk. Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, on at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir the 284ml carton of soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml (7fl oz). Continue on a low speed as you add the measured soured cream (reserve the rest for later). Whisk to blend but don't overbeat. The mixture should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.
  4. Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling and make the top as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to fan 90C/conventional 110C/gas mark 1/4 and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake with a creamy centre (my favourite way) or leave the door closed if you prefer it to be slightly drier. Let it cool in the oven for 2 hours.
  5. Combine the reserved soured cream with the 142ml carton, the sugar, and lemon juice for the topping. Spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refridgerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. Run a knife around the edges of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper from underneath. (This bit is a lot more difficult than it sounds and so I usually end up leaving it on the bottom of the tin. It doesn't look as good but the taste is what matters!)

So there you are. You now have the knowledge to make this ridiculously tasty pudding. If you don't like it then I fear for both your physical and mental well-being. Do not under any circumstances throw any in the bin. Send left overs to the usual address.

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