It’s been such glorious weather lately that I’ve only baked a couple of things this last week and have completely ignored my blog as it’s been just too nice to sit down and write it up.
The first recipe I baked was the ‘Continental Cheesecake’ – just the type of dessert I like in this type of weather. I must admit the more ‘baked’ cheesecakes I am baking, a bigger fan I am becoming of them. Mary says that this makes a good large cake, excellent for a party. The topping for this cheesecake is ‘mixed summer fruits’ so this was ideal as at the moment as I seem to be inundated with strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants from the allotment, so I thought it would be nice to use some of them up.
First things first as usual, the oven was put on the preheat at Fan 140°C and a 25cm (10″) loose bottomed cake tin was lightly greased and the base lined with parchment.
This cheesecake has the traditional biscuit bottom, so into a plastic bag I weighed out 100g digestive biscuits, which were crushed until they resembled breadcrumbs with a rolling pin. These were tipped into a bowl of 50g butter which had been melted. To this I also added 40g Demerara sugar. Once it had all been mixed together it was turned into the tin and pressed down. I popped the tin into the fridge to set, as there was no way in the heat that was both outside and in my kitchen that it would have set for quite some time.
Whilst the base was setting, it was time to get on with the filling. into a bowl I weighed out 65g softened butter (in this heat there was no need at all to take it out of the fridge a while before it was required – within a few minutes it was soft) 225g caster sugar, 550g ricotta (or curd cheese), 40g plain flour, the finely grated rind and juice from 2 lemons and 4 large egg yolks (keep the whites as you will need them later). This was beaten together until smooth. I found I could do this quite easily with my big whisk, there was no need to get the electric whisk out just yet!
I did, however get my electric whisk out in order to whisk up 200ml double cream. I also whipped the egg whites up until they were stiff. Bot the cream and the egg whites were folded into the mixture and poured over the biscuit crust.
The cheesecake went into the oven for about 1.5 hours at which point it was golden brown and the top had set. The oven was turned off and the cheesecake was left inside the oven to cool for a further hour. Once it was removed from the oven I ran a palette knife around the edge of the tin to loosen it and pushed the base up through the cake tin. I was slightly concerned at this point as in the book it says to remove the side paper! I didn’t have any side paper only parchment on the base. I re-read the recipe to see if i should have lined the sides too, but there is no mention at all about this. Obviously a typing error in the book, tut-tut, the proof reader had obviously overlooked this. As Mary states in the recipe the cheesecake dips a little on cooling, but this shouldn’t be a problem as it will be filled with lots of lovely fresh fruit.
The cheesecake was put onto a serving plate and put to one side whilst I made the topping. Mary does suggest using strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackberries and blackcurrants. I used the first three. My blackcurrants need another week or so yet before they will be fully ripe and I’ve always thought of blackberries being an Autumn fruit not a Summer fruit. In total you needed 450g of mixed fruit, so I think I used approximately 150g of each. Into a saucepan went the redcurrants (if you use blackcurrants and blackberries – these too go into the pan) together with 2 tablespoons water and some sugar to sweeten them slightly. Once the fruit had softened and released its juices it was removed from the heat.
The next stage was to blend a level teaspoon of arrowroot (or use a sheet of gelatine – following the instructions on the packet) with 2 tablespoons of cold water and add it to the cooked fruit and liquid from the pan. The mixture was allowed to cool. I think in all honesty I slightly overcooked my redcurrants as most of them had burst, as I took my eye off them for a few minutes! Once the mixture had cooled and thickened I stirred in the raspberries and strawberries. These were piled onto the top of the cheesecake in the middle. I did add a few more redcurrants to the top too! The rim of the cheesecake was decorated with 150ml double cream that had been whipped until stiff.
I must admit it looked stunning and very summery indeed. Before trying it, my husband and I took the dog for a long walk in order to work up an appetite. We weren’t disappointed, it was lovely. There was a slight hint of lemon to the cheesecake, but it wasn’t over-powering. My daughter however disagreed and said it was too lemony for her. My son is on a bit of a health kick at the moment, so he declined to have any as he said it looked too fattening!
It was a very stunning dessert and certainly something that would look good for a party. I think it will be added to the ‘bake again’ list.