AD is a fussy eater. Y’all know that. He inspired a whole blog – clue in <rolling my eyes>. It was a while, however, before I realised the problem wasn’t so much about being picky but it was about prejudice. AD, I figured out, has ten thousand preconceived notions about food. He’s got too many rules in his head about what to eat when and what can and cannot be eaten together. Slowly I’m trying to get him to keep an open mind. If you’ve never tried it, how do you know its disgusting? It’s not too much to ask right? May be when we’ve been married about 30 years his first reaction to anything would NOT be ‘yuck’.
This is the story of cheesecake. This is the story of the time AD and I were young, just starting out our first jobs and living the life in the city of Bombay. It was about that time when we discovered and fell in love with Basilico. Remember I mentioned it in this post? So anyway, we were having lunch (I think?) and I wanted dessert.
Me – I think I want to order the baked cheesecake
AD – That’s disgusting
Me – How can you not like cheesecake? You’re so weird.
AD – Its full of cream. I hate malai.
Me – Huh? In baked cheesecake?
AD – It’s not made of cream?
Me – Noooooo. Cream cheese
AD – I like cream cheese. Maybe I should try it
Me – You’ve never even tried it before?
AD – No
Me – Try it, then we’ll talk
After that baked cheesecake, or Philadelphia or New York cheesecake as its referred to, gained another lifelong fan. AD loved it so much, he now orders a whole cheesecake for his birthday instead of a cake. And I would have been quite happy to keep buying it for him till I came across a baked cheesecake recipe in this book which is so ridiculously easy, I just had to try it out for myself. This is the second time I’ve made this and it’s turned out beautifully. At the risk of tempting fate, I think it classifies as fool-proof <fingers crossed, knock on wood>
Here’s what you need
I’m giving you the original recipe, but I halved the quantities because I didn’t know what I would do with this quantity of cheesecake – let me tell you, for something so deceptively pale and delicate looking, it’s incredibly heavy.
50 gm crushed digestive biscuits (it’s easier to do this in a mixer)
900 gm cream cheese at room temperature (I used Philadelphia cream cheese)
245 gm sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Before you start, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. You’re also going to need a springform tin. You’re going to need this if you actually want to remove the cheesecake from the tin it was baked in. However if you’re not big on presentation and are happy digging into this dessert straight from the tin, feel free to use any tin . The purists will shudder, but unless you’re a Michelin start chef or a Masterchef participant, you’re probably cooking more for the awesomeness of the food than presentation.
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and grease your tin
2. If using a springform tin remove the bottom and wrap in foil, then clamp the sides onto the base. Press the crushed cookies to cover the base. It looks like a fine layer of sand. Make sure no foil can be seen. I should probably say at this point, that some recipes I’ve come across, say that you should mix the crushed cookies with a little melted butter to add to the flavour. I say, that if you’re using Mcvites, when you blend, the biscuits have enough oils in them that you can pack it tightly without butter. You choose.
3. Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
4. Add sugar, lemon rind and juice and beat some more. Add vanilla extract.
5. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
7. Here’s the tricky part. Set the tin in a larger baking tray and place in the oven. Place enough hot water into the outer baking tray to come up to about 1 inch on the side of the tin. This is called a water bath. I found a huge steel plate, put the tin in it and poured water. Ginormous steel plates are easy enough to find in an Indian home. Most people have a large steel plate with a big rim that they usually use to knead atta. Just use that.
Just a word of caution, don’t open the oven door while its baking and when you’re cooling, cool away from draughts.
4. Chill for 4 hours or over night (I prefer over night) to let it set.
5. If using springform, once its sets, feel free to remove the sides and transfer onto another plate or any other fancy – shmancy you feel like. If you used a regular old tin – dig in.
This cheesecake is kind of heavy and needs a little something, like a fruit sauce, to go with it. I find berries of any kind pair fabulously with this. I have this gorgeous and astonishingly easy recipe for a berry sauce that goes really well with cheesecake, ice cream, pancakes waffles – you name it. I promise I will make that soon.