The original recipe is from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries. The man isn’t prone to superlatives. So when one comes across a superlative in his book, one notices. And when he described this lemon-orange cheesecake as “one of those perfect recipes that you have been after all your life”, he wasn’t overstating it. It is perfect. I’m not going to buy commercial cheesecake again. Ever. Because now I know how easy it is to bake a cheesecake — and a far better one too than those mass-produced confections.
As far as I know, there are two kinds of cheesecake — baked and no-cook. This is a baked cheesecake. It may seem intimidating to make one. I was scared of trying for a long time because the ingredients are kinda expensive. But, really, some guts and resolve and you’ll discover how easy it is.
I didn’t even follow Nigel Slater’s recipe to a T. Mascarpone cheese is rather hard to find in my part of the world so I just doubled the amount of cream cheese. The cake was just perfect. Not heavy like unbaked cheesecakes are but light and airy — almost like creme brulee.
A loose-bottom baking pan is recommended but there’s a way around it if you don’t have one. I don’t. What I did was to lay out a square of baking (wax) paper (the size of the baking paper has to be much larger than the bottom of the baking pan), placed the 8-inch round baking pan on top of it and drew a circle, tracing the bottom of the pan. Then I drew lines pointing outward from the circle — much like drawing the rays of a sun. Then I cut along those lines. I fitted the circle portion of the baking paper at the bottom of the pan, tucking in the edges. Then, I arranged the “rays” in an overlapping fashion around the sides of the pan so that the sides and bottom are completely lined. Of course, you can just fold the sides but I didn’t want creases. By cutting and overlapping, the sides of the cake came out crease-free.
Now, the recipe.
This is how I made my cheesecake, okay? Like I said, I did change a few things from Nigel Slater’s recipe here and there. Aside from having no mascarpone cheese, I used four whole eggs instead of three eggs plus one egg yolk. I also omitted the juice of one lemon and simply used the rind (my kids don’t like sour cheesecakes).
2 225-gram blocks of cream cheese
1 250-ml brick of all purpose cream
3/4 c. plus 2 tbsps. of white sugar
the grated rinds of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1-3/4 c. of graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. of butter
Bake the cheesecake :
Melt the butter then stir in the graham cracker crumbs until well-blended. Transfer to the prepared baking pan (I used an 8-inch round silicone pan) and press down firmly with the back of a spoon (or your fingers). Place the crust in the freezer while you prepare the cheese mixture.
Since you will be baking the cheesecake in a baine marie, start boiling a kettle-full of water at this point. You will also need to have ready an ovenproof pan that can hold the one that contains the cheesecake.
Place the cream cheese, eggs and sugar in a bowl and mix until smooth. I used an electric mixer but you can use a wire whisk. Just keep whisking until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the cream and the rinds. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.
Now, the baine marie part. Place the baking pan at the center of the larger baking pan. Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan so that half of the smaller pan is submerged in water. Be careful NOT to get any water into the cheesecake though.
Bake in a preheated 150oC oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Note that if you’re using a pan larger than the 8-inch pan that I used, the baking time will be shorter. The recommended baking time in the original recipe was 55 minutes at 275oF but my cheesecake still looked pale after 55 minutes so I let it stay in the oven for another 15 minutes.
When the baking time is up, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake there for another half an hour. Then, take it out and allow to cool to room temperature. Note that when you take the cake out of the oven, the center will be quivering. Don’t worry about that. The cake is done — you will just need to chill it for a few hours after it has cooled to room temperature.
To remove the cheesecake from the pan, hold on to the baking paper around it and lift carefully. I had help from my daughter in doing this as four hands were better than two for the job. Transfer to a plate and just pull off the baking paper carefully. You won’t be able to remove the baking paper at the bottom of the crust at this point though. You will have to do that as you slice the cake.
So, there’s my cheesecake being sliced by my daughter Sam who couldn’t wait until her father and sister got home.
UPDATE @ 12-12-06 @ 12.55 a.m.
I’m just updating this entry to include a photo of a slice of the cheesecake.