I have tasted umpteen desserts masquerading as cheesecake. Some are quite nice. But they aren’t cheesecake. “Real” cheesecake is always baked. If it is whisked, gelatine added and refrigerated to set, then it is a mousse of some sort. If it isn’t made with full fat cream cheese (not yogurt or tofu or cream with lime juice) then it simply isn’t the real McCoy.
Egg and all: The no-compromise cheesecake
Cheesecakes have been around for centuries but they became popular in eastern Europe where the Russian one, vatrushka, and paskha, a Polish version were popular. Immigrants from eastern Europe brought their recipes to the US. Ever since then, supermarket frozen ones, topped with fruit purees and biscuit bases, topped the popularity charts. I love cheesecake and have tried more recipes than I can remember. This one is by far the easiest and the best one for real baked cheesecake.
Baking in a water bath at a low oven temperature does the trick. It produces a creamy rather than a hard texture. Leaving it in the oven for an hour with the heat off gives a wonderful even texture. If you don’t do this, your cheesecake will be gooey in the centre. This is such a fantastic cake that I personally prefer a bland sponge base which doesn’t take away from the centre piece. Biscuit bases often overpower the cake itself. This is a no-compromise recipe. There is no vegetarian version made without eggs. If you can get your hands on sour cream, it is even better.
New York Baked Cheesecake
550gms Philadelphia cream cheese (2 packets)
1cup castor sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
4 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
1½ tsp vanilla extract/essence
¼ tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
8’ plain sponge cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease an 8 x 2½ inches or higher, spring form tin (with a loose bottom). Cut the sponge horizontally to about ½ inches thick and line the bottom of the tin with it. Wrap the outside of the tin with a double layer of heavy-duty foil to prevent seepage.
In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar until very smooth (about 3 minutes), preferably with an electric whisk.
Beat in the cornflour. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until smooth and scraping down the sides. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and beat until incorporated. Beat in the cream just until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Set the tin in a larger tin and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water.
Bake for 45 minutes, covered loosely. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for an hour. Remove and cover with plastic wrap (cling film). Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
To un-mould: Place the tin on a heated burner and move it around for 15 seconds or dip into hot water for a few seconds. Wipe sides of tin with a hot, damp towel. Run a thin metal spatula around the sides of the cake and release the sides of the spring form tin.
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