This week I have made two cakes: a New York cheesecake from Australian Women's Weekly's The Complete Book of Cupcakes, Cheesecakes and Cookies (I got mine from WHSmith), with a few tweaks; I also made some Butternut Squash Cupcakes. I'm very pleased with both of them, and hopefully if you follow the recipes I give you then you'll be pleased too.
Last week's (Horrific) Giant Chocolate Cupcake was attacked by hungover housemates (the second cake to get this treatment, but I do live in a student house so this is to be expected) who took most of the sweets off it. 3/4 of the actual cake did get eaten, so I'm going to call it a surprising success. If you don't understand why the success is a surprise, go and look at the thing (you can find a more successful Giant Cupcake here).
Moving on, I feel that the New York cheesecake has gone very well. I tweaked the recipe for a couple of reasons: every baked cheesecake in the book takes longer to cook than the writers think it does (I don't know if this is something to do with the Southern Hemisphere that has been so far undocumented or not) and if you follow the recipe to a tee you'll find that what you've actually made is a lemon cheesecake. A lemon cheesecake is not what I wanted to make, so I used vanilla instead.
When I've made the cheesecake in the past I have used mascarpone cheese, which gives a very creamy flavour and is definitely the best option to go for if you don't care about the nutritional content of this cake. Today I used quark, which is not just a subatomic particle in physics but also a cream cheese that is made in the Scottish Highlands, due to its shockingly low fat content and sharper, more tart flavour. This nod towards health is in anticipation the Fridge Cake I'm making for E's birthday on Thursday. For the uninitiated, Fridge cake is deliciously moreish yet artery-clogging.
Other cheeses you might try are ricotta and Philadelphia. Ricotta will give the cake a different texture, and Philadelphia will change the flavour again. You could also use your bog standard supermarket 'cream cheese'. Nobody knows what type of cheese this actually is, but it seems closest to Philadelphia in my opinion.
One last thing to mention before I tell you how to make this is that if you want to make your cake deeper, all you have to do is double the recipe below. This is another issue with the recipe from the book that I always forget about until I reveal the cake from the springform tin (they're very deceptive when it comes to depth!)
- 3 Eggs
- 240g Caster Sugar
- 750g Quark
- 300ml Reduced Fat Soured Cream
- 3 Tsp Vanilla Extract (if you can; essence if you can't and flavouring if you must)
- 50g Butter
- 150g Biscuits (plain digestives are most commonly used, but use whatever you like - I used rich tea biscuits)
- Preheat the oven to 180/160C fan. Line the bottom of a 10" springform tin with parchment paper.
- Place the biscuits in a bag, seal it and crush with a rolling pin or reduce them to crumbs in a food processor (if using a food processor you can also skip the next step; just add the butter with the biscuits).
- Melt the butter in a pan and stir into the biscuit crumbs.
- Tip the mixture into the springform tin and press it into the bottom so that it is firmly packed. Try to make sure that the biscuits are packed evenly so that the surface is flat, otherwise the cheesecake will come out wonky when you slice it.
- In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and 200g of the sugar until they are smooth. You may wish to use an electric mixer for this.
- Next, add the eggs one at a time and stir them in.
- Stir in 1/3 of the sour cream and the vanilla and ensure that the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the springform tin and place in the oven.
- Meanwhile, mix the rest of the sour cream, sugar and vanilla together. When the cheesecake has been in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, take it out and spread this mixture over the top. This makes the top layer that is what makes a New York cheesecake special (at least to me).
- Put the cheesecake back into the oven. If you want a cheesecake that is still slightly creamy on the inside then cook it for another 15 minutes; if you want one that has the same texture all the way through then cook it for another half hour.
- Keep checking the cake all the way through the cooking process. If the top looks like it's starting to brown too much, cover the top of the tin with some baking parchment or tin foil to stop it burning.
- When the cheesecake has finished cooking, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in there until it is cold. If possible, leave it in there overnight but if other people are clamouring for the oven then just put it in the fridge once cooled to room temperature.
- Run a knife around the inside of the tin to make sure that none of the cake sticks to it and release the spring so that you can remove the edges of the tin from the cake. You should be able to gently push your cheesecake off the base of the tin onto a plate because the tin was lined - just look out for the lining when cutting it up!
There is a lot of cooking time in this recipe, so you may have difficulty stopping other people trying to use the oven. DO NOT let them raise the temperature of the oven as this will ruin the cake.
If any of the instructions in this recipe are complete jargon to you, please visit The Basics.
[The contents and pictures in this post were updated on 13/04/2014]