Let’s talk cheesecake. Or to put it another way: let’s just start an argument. Firstly, people argue from where it originates, and then you get into the argument of toppings (cream, raspberries, blueberries, plain with cream on the side) the list is endless. But that is the beauty, the sheer versitility of this wonderful desert. Dense in the winter, creamier in the summer, the choice is yours. It is an all year round food. How good is that?
140g digestive biscuits, made into fine crumb
85mls/about a third of a pack of butter, melted.
- tbsp sugar , granulated or golden caster
- 3 x 300g/11oz pack full fat soft cheese (Philadelphia is good) at room tempreture.
- 250g golden caster sugar.
- 3 tbsp plain flour.
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract.
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp).
- 1½ tsp lemon juice.
- 3 large eggs , plus 1 yolk.
- 200ml/7floz/about 2/3rds of a carton soured cream.
Preheat the oven to fan-160C/ conventional-180C/gas 4. Line the base of a springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.
For the crust: melt the butter in a medium pan and stir in the crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the lot into the bottom of the tin then bake for 10 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack while you carry on preparing the filling.
For the filling: turn up oven to fan-200C/conventional-240C/gas 9. Beat the soft cheese either with a wooden spoon on using a paddle beater on a mixer at medium-low speed. You want it to look creamy, about 2 minutes. Then keep beating and gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Now get rid of the spoon or paddle, it’s time to whisk. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice, then whisk in the eggs and yolk (one at a time) remember to scrape the bowl. Add the soured cream. Continue whisking to blend it, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and airy.
Brush the sides of the tin with some melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling, make the top as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes in the hot oven then reduce the oven temperature to fan-90C/conventional-110C/gas 1⁄4 and bake for a further 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 creamy cheesecake , or leave it closed if you prefer it more dense. I like to do half and half – closed for an hour then open for an hour. Let it cool in the oven for 2 hours, and don’t worry the cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools down.
Best to remove from the fridge ten minutes before serving.
What can you say about cheesecake, other than ‘how big a slice do you want?’ For the topping on this one I used blueberries. The recipe is here. Other toppings will follow, when I have tasted enough of them!