I had cheesecake for breakfast today.
I waited until the house was empty, made a cappuccino with our shiny new coffee machine, and cut myself a rather large slice. I don’t think I’ll need lunch. I may not even need dinner.
My cheesecake wasn’t a showstopper – as required in The Bake Off on Wednesday. It was a one layer, plain vanilla New York cheesecake from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. After my trauma with the baguettes last week, I wanted something simple and, fingers crossed, edible. Given that a cheesecake is mainly made of cream cheese and sugar, even if it went wrong, the chances were that it would taste OK.
I’m not sure whether my cheesecake is right or wrong (more of which later) but it tastes great; smooth, creamy, a little bit but not too sweet. Lovely.
The Hummingbird’s cheesecake has a biscuity base. I put plain flour, baking powder, caster sugar and butter into the bowl of the KitchenAid. I made a bit of a mistake here. I was distracted by my daughter who was in the garden and about to take a big gulp of rainwater from a flower pot. I jerked the sugar bag and ended up with far too much sugar in the biscuit mix. I managed to lift some of the excess out with a teaspoon (after wrestling the flower pot away from Naomi and dealing with the fall-out of a toddler denied). Thankfully, I think I managed to take enough sugar out – the base tastes fine to me. Anyway, I mixed until the mixture looked sandy, then added an egg yolk. I tipped it all into my tin (a 23cm springform lined with greaseproof) and pressed it down with the back of a spoon. The base went into the oven at 130° fan. This is where I’m not sure whether I went wrong. The recipe says that the base should be baked for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown. I checked after 20 minutes and the base was soft and nowhere near golden brown. I gave it another five. It was firmer this time, but still not golden brown. After 30 minutes it was still pale and showing no signs of turning golden brown. I gave it another five minutes and decided to take it out. It was still pale but it was firm, and I didn’t want to over do it. I left it to cool and started on the cheesecake itself.
There’s a lot of cream cheese in the Hummingbird Bakery’s New York cheesecake recipe – 900g. That’s three-and-a-bit family sized tubs of Philadelphia. I did find a recipe for baked cheesecake in Delia’s Cakes that only uses 300g, but, if I wasn’t going to make a showstopper in terms of tiers, decorations and funky flavours, it may as well have an obscene amount of cream cheese in it.
I put the three-and-a-bit tubs into the KitchenAid with caster sugar and vanilla extract and beat it all slowly until I had a thick and smooth mixture. I added eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then turned the mixer up a notch for a few seconds (the recipe says that it’s important not to overmix because this could cause the cheese to split). I poured the mixture onto the cold biscuit base, put the cake tin into a roasting tray which I filled with water until it came two-thirds of the way up the side of the cake tin. The whole thing went into the oven at 130° fan (the recipe doesn’t give a temperature for fan ovens, and I usually go with the standard 20° lower – the recipe stipulated 150° and a cooking time of between 30 and 40 minutes). Again, the recipe said that the cheesecake should be baked until it was golden brown on the top. Again, my cheesecake did not turn golden brown. I decided to take it out after an hour in the oven because I was concerned that, if I didn’t, the wobble would be gone from the centre and, according to the Bake Off, you definitely need that wobble.
I let the cheesecake cool, then covered it and put it into the fridge overnight. Here is the finished, rather pale, cheesecake.As I said at the beginning of the post, I’m not sure whether I’ve gone wrong or not. My cheesecake certainly isn’t golden brown but, then again, the cheesecake in the picture in the cookery book isn’t either and, neither is the picture on the Humminbird Bakery’s website. Golden brown or not, it’s the best breakfast I’ve had in ages.