First an apology: life’s been hectic over the last few weeks (it’s been a hell of a start to the year). I’ve tried to fit baking in between the chaos as and when I can, but there has been little room for actually writing anything up. One good outcome is that I have a stash of new recipes to jot down, plus I’ve made some of my old favourites that I hadn’t previously written down before. Now I have some decent-enough photographs to accompany them, they’ll all find a place here over the coming months – this cheesecake recipe being the first of my older, trusted recipes to be written up.
This year I have a few goals linked to this blog. I intend to have a gallery page of my illustrations, drawing and paintings related to food and to combine my artwork with my recipes more, such as doing visual recipes or more infographics or including more craft makes. I also aim to add more family recipes, expanding it from my mainstay of baking – there are a few already. Although baking is my passion it does represent only a small portion of the cooking I do, so though it will never stop being primarily a baking and confectionery blog I’d like it to reflect how I cook and bake more, so that means a few more starters and main courses as well as desserts and tea-time treats. Lastly, I hope to step up a gear with the blog, possibly adding other food-related posts, reviews, more hints and tips and hopefully working towards making this more enriching (for myself and for anyone who stumbles across it).
I have included this cheesecake as it’s been an oversight not to have written it up earlier. This is one of the first recipes I ever devised – probably back as far as the late 90s (yikes). I’d estimate that I’ve made it twenty times or more in the intervening years since, but normally it gets scoffed far too fast to have taken any images of it. I hid it this time until I’d taken some photos and this is how we came to discover that it actually improves with a day’s rest. It never lasted long enough before to discover that.
So, although it is lovely as soon as it is cooled, far better to restrain yourself from eating it until the day after baking, when it is truly divine. Even if I do say so myself.
I make my own lemon curd for this – please see my recipe for lemon curd to have a go at making your own. If you do, this should be made in advance of the cheesecake as it takes a good half a day at least to completely cool itself. Alternatively you can use shop bought lemon curd, but even the artisanal ones won’t be a patch on your freshly home made jar. This is a nice bake to do in stages if you have a special meal planned: for instance for a Saturday night dinner make the lemon curd midweek and the cheesecake on the Friday.
- 23cm springform cake tin
- Kitchen foil
- Large bowl and a medium (heatproof) bowl
- Food processor for crushing the biscuits (or you can just hammer them into submissions using a tea towel and a rolling pin!)
Ingredients – base
- Digestive biscuits – 300g
- Ground almonds – 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted butter, softened – 100g
Ingredients – cheesecake
- Cream cheese (such as Philadelphia) – 200g
- Ricotta – 200g
- Double cream – 200ml
- Eggs, large – three
- Limoncello – 4 tablespoons (I used Sette Vie limoncello)
- Lemon zest – finely grated zest from one unwaxed large lemon
- Lemon curd – about 5-6 teaspoons (to your taste)
Method – base
- Take the base off the springform tin and cut or rip off two pieces of kitchen foil slightly bigger than the base
- Lay these two sheets of foil one on top of the other and cover the base, smoothing it out and over the edges, making it tight. Don’t bunch it up at the edge/rim
- This little trick is to make the springform tin a little more water-tight and to replace the need for a baking sheet
- Clip the foil-covered base into the tin – it will be a bit harder than normal (you may need to push down any bunched-up areas) but it will ensure it fits more snugly
- Whizz up the digestives in your blender (or put them in a tea towel, making sure it is folded or twisted and bash with a rolling pin)
- Put the butter in the heatproof bowl and melt in a microwave
- When the butter is melted, tip in the digestive crumbs and the ground almonds and mix until the butter is incorporated throughout
- Tip into the springform tin and press down with the back of a spoon as evenly as possible
- Leave to one side
Method – cheesecake mix
- Turn your oven on to 160C fan / 170C conventional
- In a large bowl tip in all the ingredients except the lemon curd – there’s no need to faff about creaming one thing into another first. I followed that in the past and believe me it makes no difference to the outcome of the cheesecake
- Mix it all together; just make sure there are no large lumps of cream cheese or ricotta and that the eggs are mixed in thoroughly
- Tip the whole lot slowly into the tin and pop in the oven for 40 minutes
- After 40 minutes, take out the cheesecake and leave the oven door open (to help cool the oven more quickly). The cheesecake will be starting to firm up at the edges but still be very soft in the middle at this stage – this is perfect
- Reduce the oven temperature to 120C fan / 130C conventional
- Using a teaspoon, drop small blobs of the lemon curd on to the surface of the cheesecake – do not stir it in. Try to even it out across the cheesecake (so everybody gets some when they get a slice). Alternatively, I have sometimes warmed the lemon curd a little so it becomes slightly runny and then drizzled it across in large zigzags
- Put the cheesecake back into the oven for another 20 – 30 minutes
- Remove it when it looks like it has cooked through, but it still has a voluptuous wobble when you jiggle the tin
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a good couple of hours
- Make sure the tin is cool to the touch before you try to open the spring and remove the tin – if in doubt take a very sharp plain bladed knife and run just the very tip of the blade round the edge of the cheesecake (don’t put the whole knife down the side – you only want to break the join between the surface and the tin)
- Leave to cool further – at least another hour and definitely until the middle stops wobbling. As mentioned right at the start, it is best if you can leave it until the next day… “if you can”.