Monday, April 7, 2014

American Cheesecake

American Cheesecake 

Cheesecake Topped with Fresh Homemade Strawberry Compote 

 I was suddenly obsessed with baking a cheesecake after my tryst with Theobroma's baked strawberry cheesecake. You see in most bakeries of India what you get is the set cheesecake, creamy enough but she or he who has not tasted baked cheesecake is missing out on a whole other level of creaminess. Well lets say taste is subjective, but even then how about a richer , creamier version of set cheesecake.

Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote 

The truth is that  I wanted my cheesecake to be perfect. I mean lets face it, Philadelphia cream cheese does not come cheap and I had no intention to botch up my cheesecake and so the search began. While the internet is my all time saviour, the truth is that with so many recipes my head was spinning within 5 minutes. I didn't know which one to follow, besides a further reading proved that unlike what I had incorrectly thought about cheesecake originating in the USA, there is a host of cheesecake out there from Europe using different cheese. More confusion followed and then I decided I should probably refer to a trusted site I follow which gave 4 options to 'perfect' cheesecake. Now while no food item is perfect in the sense , 'one man's meat is another man's poison' this recipe was perfect. It explained each and every step and the reason why one should follow it. I reduced the number of servings from 16 to 8 and at times to 4 servings as well , tweaked one step using the knowledge I had gathered all these years and the result was 'Mmmmm this is lovely' from one guests and another one declared that she can never ever have cheesecake from the other bakeries of Calcutta . I was the happiest host ever. Its a lengthy process but completely worth it. You should ideally make it the night before serving so that you have enough time to allow the cheesecake to chill.

Now I make Cheesecake every season and use the seasonal fresh fruit to make a fresh compote to top the cheesecakes. The first time I baked a cheesecake I had foolishly used tinned blueberry which was the worst mistake I could make since these were preserved in corn-syrup and was literally bland in taste and made a terrible topping. I highly suggest that you make your own fresh compote.

Recipe adapted from Simplyrecipes

Makes 8 servings

So basically what you need is :-

The filling :-

450 gm Philadelphia cream cheese
2 medium sized eggs
80ml homemade sour cream substitute (I had heavy dairy cream and simply added 1 tbsp vinegar per cup of cream and let it stand 24 hours to thicken and then refrigerated it, besides my supplier was out of sour cream)
80ml heavy dairy cream
Tiny pinch of salt
70gm of granulated sugar which is ground in the blender to a state of icing sugar

The crust :-

1.5 cups crushed gm digestive biscuit (I had used Britannia) or crackers (since I already had the digestive biscuit it was used as the base)
1/2 tbsp castor sugar
Tiny pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter + 1 tsp butter

The topping :-

200gm strawberries
100gm sugar
Juice from 1 wedge of lemon + a bit extra

The first and most important rule is that the cream cheese must be completely soft and must be at room temperature. I suggest keeping it at room temperature for several hours before you proceed with the making of the cheesecake.

Start by simply using a plastic wrap to wrap the biscutis and use a rolling pin to create crumbs but not fine crumbs. Now put it in a  bowl and use clean hands to mix it with the other ingredients of the crust. Press it down firmly in your springform pan.

Before you start with the preparation of the cheesecake prepare the pan (9 inch)  { At times when I have cut the amount of ingredients by half I have used a pan which is 6 inch to 7 inch } by wrapping it well with aluminium foil making sure you use enough foil and place the spring-form pan in the middle and then wrapping it gently so that there are no cracks in your foil.  Use a water bath and bake this for 10 minutes.

So why use water bath? Well  this helps in even baking.

I have used both a convection oven and regular oven for baking cheesecakes. .

In the meantime whip your softened cream cheese till fluffy. You shall see how easy it is since you have already kept it at room temperature and then add the sugar, salt, sour cream , heavy cream and whip well. Add the egg and whip till fluffy and a delight to look at and then pour it over the crust which has been cooled and  bake .

When using regular ovens preheat oven to 160 C and place a tray of water beneath the rack and bake this in the center of the oven for 45 minutes to 50 minutes till you get a golden top.

When I use the convection oven I usually half the recipe and bake the cheesecake for a good 1 hour 20 minutes. Convection oven in India takes a long time for baking.

You can start with your topping the next morning by simply mixing the sugar and strawberries cut in large chunks and leaving it for an hour. Add the juice of lemon and bring it to a slow boil and then simmer till thick.

Once baked thoroughly cool it in the oven itself by opening the door 1 inch for the next 1 hour. This step ensures that you cheesecake will not get any cracks on top. Chill the pan with the foil on overnight and the next day carefully bring out the cheesecake from the springform. Spread the topping on top of the cheesecake and give your guests a wonderful surprise.

P.S. Cheesecake is extremely heavy and so make sure you do not fill your guests with dishes from other courses :)

The source of this recipe is simply recipes

1 comment:

  1. You can also prevent cracking of the cooling cheesecake by eliminating the aluminum foil during the baking step. When the cake is done (it will look dull on the top), remove it from the oven and run a knife around the edge to release it from sticking to the side of the pan. Leave the pan in place. Return the still hot cheesecake to the now turned off and naturally cooling oven until room temperature (leave the oven door open slightly during this time).

    Most baked cheesecake tends to slightly crack. That's why one puts a topping on it, to hide the small cracks around the edge. My favorite is warm chocolate ganache with a tiny bit of corn syrup added. As it cools, it will stay shiny and every so slightly soft.

    In Italy, the American style cheesecake is extremely popular, but considered truly a "special occasion" dessert because of the cost of the Philadelphia cream cheese.