Simple Baked Cheesecake

I realised today that the last few recipes on this blog have been all chocolate. Completely unintentional I tell you. But winter's the time to be really exploring chocolate in all it's forms, even ice-cream, isn't it? But even today's recipe can be made chocolaty - from crust to glaze and everything in between. But I have gone that way before and this is how it went: A chocolate cheesecake is not something that you expect - taste wise. It looks perfect, moist and creamy, but it's taste? The cheesecake is tangy/sour (like it's supposed to be) but the chocolate inside doesn't match the flavour. You think you are eating cake, a good cake, but there's something different about it. It grows on you.

But today, I am digging into a simple baked cheesecake.

A 'New York Cheesecake' or a 'Philadelphia Cheesecake' is how most people cross path with this dessert. Today, most cheesecakes are made with commercially bought cream cheese (and that too mostly Philadelphia). Commercial cream cheese was first made in 1872 which is similar to the French Cheese Neufchâtel. So the original cheesecakes were made with other ingredients.

Did you know, that cheesecake goes back almost 2000 years to Greece?  Europeans brought cheesecake to America in the late 19th century. According to The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, cheesecake recipes that called for making curd at home (or curd cheese) were seen in a book used by Martha Washington in 1794. Italian Cheesecakes are made with Ricotta, some use Quark cheese(Käsekuchen), some Eastern European recipes are made with cottage cheese, there are cheesecakes that can be made with Paneer (Indian style cottage cheese) and the Russians make a dessert called Paskha which is also very similar to a cheesecake and is traditionally made at Easter. Unbaked cheesecakes are usually fridge set and made by adding gelatin to the cheesecake mixture. The classic New York Cheesecake is a Jewish style recipe.  In New York, Lindy's, a Broadway deli and Junior's restaurant are supposed to be 'the' places for a classic cheesecake slice and if you are adventurous, try Lindy's recipe at home (and let me know how it went?).  If you are in search of a good New York style cheesecake to make at home then go see Felicity Cloake's Perfect Cheesecake recipe on Guardian.

At one point of time, I thought that a blog that features only cheesecakes would be such a cool idea. Day after day, one cheesecake after another. Good thing I didn't do it. Considering the time I am taking to write this post. Oh well. If one day, I have the capacity to consume entire cheesecakes without worrying about fat and stuff, maybe I'll do it.

Simple Baked Cheesecake
Adapted Mostly from this Baked Cheesecake with Blueberries by Rachel Allen

I chose this recipe for a few reasons. One I wanted a decent sized cake, but did not wish to load it with cream cheese (this here has only 450 gm). Second, I was reluctant to buy commercial cream cheese, because it is imported, prohibitively expensive, there are food miles involved and (yes, ok, i'll stop now). So what I am saying is that, really, if you are baking a cheesecake, there's no right or wrong in what cheese you use - and let no one tell you otherwise. If you want a specific 'style' cheesecake, then the components will matter. But if you used curd cheese/ hung curd for a simple 'your style' cheesecake, it'll still be perfect.

For the base -
60 g butter, melted,
150 g Marie biscuits (or use digestive biscuits)

For the cheesecake -
450 g curd cheese (or cream cheese), curd cheese is available easily in most dairies.
150 g caster sugar
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
4 eggs, lightly beaten

To make the chesecake -

1. Preheat the oven to 180/gas 4. Grease the sides and line the base of a 8 inch Spring form/cake tin.

2. Place the biscuits into a food processor and pulse until the mixture till it is ground fine. Pour the melted butter over the crushed biscuits and  pulse for about 30 seconds till the mixture resemble wet sand.

3. Beat the cheese, sugar, vanilla and the eggs together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Pour over the top of the base and then bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until pale golden and only wobbles slightly when you gently shake the tin.

4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it and carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin. Transfer to a serving plate.Dust with icing sugar or top with strawberry sauce (or jam, like me) - it's up to you.

5. Cut into slices to serve. This cheesecake is best eaten when it is slightly cold.


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