A smug and lazy baked cheesecake recipe? Yes please!
My dessert tastes are fairly straightforward – give me something chocolate and I’m pretty happy. But there are times when serving up a giant chocolate cake for dessert just doesn’t quite cut it, and on those occasions, may I suggest a totally easy and very delicious baked cheesecake?
My best friend at school used to have a Saturday job in a bakery and she would often arrive at our Saturday night plans (big reveal: these plans were almost never cool) – she would arrive with the crumbled ends of the baked cheesecake that hadn’t sold that day and they were always. so. delicious.
But I tried a couple of recipes over the years in an attempt to match them and they were too heavy, too sweet, too complicated and, eventually I gave up.
Until Lorraine Pascale was all over the BBC and the Guardian a couple of years ago with this excellent recipe for an extremely simple cheesecake which she topped with blackberries and fresh figs and it looked a bit irresistable so I decided it was time to try again. And thank goodness I did because it was delicious! Creamy, sweet but not sickly, and looked – dare I say it myself – positively lovely in the middle of the table and covered in fruit.
Here’s the recipe. One thing I changed the first time round was her biscuit base as she uses ginger nuts and I didn’t have any so I stuck to a traditional digestive base. Both ways are good – perhaps the digestive if you are aiming to convince some children to try it out and otherwise, the ginger biscuits do give it quite a nice kick.
50g melted unsalted butter
200g gingernut biscuits
150g digestive biscuits
75g melted unsalted butter
Spoonful of sugar (optional)
450g / 1lb full fat cream cheese (Don’t be tempted to use a low fat version – I tried this and it was not worth the very few calories saved. If you are eating a cheesecake you may as well eat a cheesecake and enjoy it)
150g double cream (see my logic about the low fat cream cheese)
3 medium eggs
125g / 4.5oz caster sugar
1b vanilla pod, seeds scraped (I have only ever used vanilla essence or paste)
2 figs, each cut into 6 wedges
Sifted icing sugar
Fresh mint leaves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/G 3 (Turn down a little if using a fan oven – 150C)
Make the base: melt the butter. Line the base of a 23cm/9in springform cake tin with baking paper. Break up the biscuits in a fancy food processor if you have one, or in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin if you don’t. Once they are fine crumbs, mix into the melted butter. Press the mixture into the base of the tin. Place tin in fridge to set (at least 10 minutes).
Make the filling: cream cheese, ricotta, cream, eggs, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds – or a teaspoon or so of essence – (aka, everything else – see, easy) – in a large bowl. Beat until combined and smooth. Using an electric whisk will make this nice and light.
Pour the filling on top of the base.
Put the tin on a baking tray in the oven for about 45 minutes. It should be set but ‘with a little wobble’ as Lorraine says. Turn the oven off and leave it to cool for an hour if you can, to help stop it cracking. If you can’t leave it in the oven for the full hour don’t panic as you are going to shove a load of fruit on the top anyway.
After it’s had an hour in a cool oven, remove. You can eat it straight away or save it until cool (I did this to recreate the end of day bakery vibe). When you are ready to eat it, add your berries and figs, dust with icing sugar and scatter mint leaves, if you are planning on using mint leaves.
I include a photo from Lorraine’s article from the Guardian above, as well as a 2year old photo of my efforts from my rubbish old phone because as my husband keeps reminding me, food photography is a thing and I think the subtle implication is that my photos of food do not qualify as this thing.