Monday, 12 October 2009

The One With SJ, or Cheesecake Misadventures

My very fab Best Woman, SJ, came over with her partner Rich for dinner on the weekend. This is almost as ace for the kids as it is for us, as my three love SJ and Rich to bits. Rightly so.

We ate a lot, we drank a lot, we lit sky lanterns with the kids before bedtime and we chatted until very late.

At one point we were talking about Dave Gorman's blog, which SJ does not read. (This is obviously an oversight on her part, as Dave is a total poppet and so spectacularly good natured and positive that I always feel happy after reading his blog.) I mentioned I had a blog too, and SJ wanted to know "am I on it?"

"erm, not yet... I've only just got started really."

So now she is. Hi SJ!

SJ loves cheesecake. She loves cheesecake. So, when she's coming to dinner, obviously I bake cheesecake for dessert.

On the whole, when baking for family and friends I prefer to bake cakes other than those I make for the deli. It's just more fun. Up until a couple of weeks ago I was baking 3 or 4 lemon cheesecakes a week for the deli, so I knew I didn't fancy making that one. I'd not done the caramel cheesecake in months; surely the ideal choice.

Except I had changed the recipe quite substantially from Annie Bell's original California Cheesecake and I'd never written the changes down. Baking something several times a week makes me lazy - the recipes are second nature and I think I'll never forget them. This is patently not the case. Oops.

I sort of remembered it. I knew I'd removed the sour cream from the cheesecake layer and did it as a top layer, like the lemon cheesecake. (This helps with the problem of the cheesecake cracking.) I remembered the sour cream was left to set like my mum's vanilla cheesecake, rather than baked like the lemon one. Not exactly precise, is it? As soon as I tasted the finished cheesecake I knew exactly what I'd forgotten and where I'd got it wrong.

The result was certainly edible, and quite nice just not lovely. I hate it when that happens.

So, here is the ACTUAL recipe for caramel cheesecake, as I make it when doing it properly:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Mix together
150g digestive biscuit crumbs
60g melted butter
and press firmly into the base of a springform pan (about 23cm, but a 20cm will do if you increase the baking time by about 5 mins)
in a large bowl or mixer, beat
500g cream cheese
150g caster sugar
until smooth. Add
1 heaped teaspoon of treacle
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
and beat until fully combined. Pour it very gently onto the biscuit base
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until almost set but still a little quivery in the middle.
mix together
300ml sour cream
2tbs vanilla sugar or caster sugar plus a dash of vanilla extract
and pour it over the top of the cheesecake. Leave to cool then refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours). Remove the springform sides and dust with
cocoa powder.

There you have it. And I owe SJ a proper one to make up for poor quality control.

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