Tag Archives: baking

The Best Raspberry Cheesecake

I was at a great party last night and brought this cheesecake and it went down tremendously well. There is nothing more gratifying than someone saying they don’t like something normally, but that they like this one you have made so much that they want the recipe. This is especially nice as cheesecake doesn’t always work out. It’s got a bad reputation for cracking, collapsing, undebaking, overbaking, burning…in fact I’m pretty sure the few times growing up I ever heard my mother say the word “fuck!” It was when a cheesecake was coming out of the oven.

This makes a very large party sized cheesecake, but if you would like to do the more reasonable home version I suppose, follow this link. I have made a few small changes to my recipe below. The linked recipe has a weirdly small amount of cookie crumbs, and I like to use vanilla sugar ( just pop a slit vanilla bean in a container of sugar and shake occasionally. Keep topping up the sugar, it will keep flavoring and scenting the sugar for years). I also like to whip the egg whites before incorporating as I like to try to get a little lightness into it any way I can.

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

about 30 digestive biscuits (or half a sleeve)
70g butter , melted
900g cream cheese or 4 packages
3 tbsp corn starch
263g sugar or vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
210 ml sour cream
450g raspberries or 3 little grocery store punets
2 tbsp raspberry jam

Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Crush digestive biscuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix with melted butter. Press into a 24cm/10″ springform tin and bake for 5 minutes, then cool.

Beat cream cheese with cornstarch, sugar, vanilla extract, egg yolks and sour cream until light and fluffy (you can use the rinsed food processor for this). Whip the whites until firm and fold into the cheese mixture. Stir in 1 punet raspberries and pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Leave in the oven with the door ajar to cool.

Using the remaining raspberries, keep a few for the top and put the rest in a sieve with the jam and force and stir though. Serve the cheescake with the raspberry sauce and raspberries.

There is no calorie count as it would make your head explode. Besides, raspberry are good for you. Fruit! When you think about it, this is practically breakfast food.



Disappointing Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Fresh bread, hot from the oven. No other smell makes a house feel more like a home. This time of year especially, I want bread with everything. Hunks of it with hot soup and chili, cinnamon buns with coffee, garlic bread and pasta. Cold weather and carbs make a happy partnership.
In an effort to warm up my home with the kind of lovin’ you can only get from the oven, I tried out the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois. It promises the kind of crispy crusted, soft crumbed, artisan style breads once available in every-ones local bakery, just down the street. Now as those sort of “just around the corner” type places disappear, it is possible to recreate it in the comfort of your own home.
First thing, there is a rather long list of things that the book suggests one must purchase before starting. To get the basics, it required an afternoon spent in Winners and Cookworks trying to find things like an oven thermometer and pizza stone. I was probably a good $175.00 invested before water ever met flour. Not that all this stuff will be useless if I never make bread again, but I’m just saying, there is an equipment investment involved.
The books main premise is that you don’t have to knead the dough. Ever. This is a bit of a head scratcher as all previous bread making teachings and experience, not to mention a stint in a bakery, is adamant about kneading, window tests, and gluten production. In the book it tells you to just mix everything really roughly in a plastic container, that’s it. You don’t even need to mix it well. Just stir together and leave it.
This creates a very slack dough, as in quite on the wet side. In theory this is supposed to give it a sort of spongy constancy that will rise well. I just found I ended up with a very sticky, wet interior and slumped over, flat round loaves. There is a great section in the beginning of the book on suggestions to fix various problems, but I found that most of them were ways of sorting out problems caused by the actual “no knead” technique of the book in the first place.
There is also no way that this is bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Sure, you could mix dough in that 5 minutes, but all other stages still took hours. Before the dough could go in the fridge it had to proof on the counter for two hours. After it then came out of the fridge and was shaped it needed ages as it needed to come to room temperature first, and then actually rise.
Not that the motivation behind the book is bad, not at all. All the recipes are much lower in sugar and have none of the preservatives present in commercially baked breads. This is great. It gets people to try baking bread and hopefully they find that it is not nearly as hard as they thought. It’s also really nice to have a tub of dough waiting in the fridge for when creative impulses strike. I was able to make a pan of cinnamon buns in the time it took to get ready for work, and Friday night pizza took less time than it would normally take to wait for delivery.
This book was a great motivation to get back to making bread again, but I have a bad feeling that someone really not familiar with baking bread would get discouraged by the results pretty quickly. However, now that I have started baking my own bread fresh at home, I’m only more motivated to try to tweak it and get it right.

As a comparison, I will be doing another no knead recipe sent to me by my new mum in law. Is sounds very similar, but involves leaving the dough to ferment at room temperate for 18 hours, proofing on a piece of parchment, and then putting the dough, parchment and all, in a preheated pot in the oven. Sounds just about crazy enough to work. I will let you know!