Rose Prince's Baking Club: baked cheesecake

Date:03-07-2013 07:58:05 read:7

Rose Prince's Baking Club: baked cheesecake

Our weekly column shows you the way to beautiful bread and consummate cake. Today: baked cheesecake with figs.

On the square: Rose’s baked cheesecake should be taken from the oven when still slightly wobbly
On the square: Rose’s baked cheesecake should be taken from the oven when still slightly wobbly  Photo: Andrew Crowley

Strathclyde University is working with a food manufacturer, using hyperspectral technology to determine the deterioration of a cake. By taking a photograph of the cake at various stages of its life using light technology, which allows you to see the chemical content and therefore the gradual breakdown of each compound (fat, starch, etc), bakers will be able to formulate a recipe with the right ratio of ingredients. This, they hope, will give the cake greater shelf life.

While it would undeniably enrich the cake industry, I somehow doubt that this will catch on at home. The University is using, incidentally, the same imaging equipment used to catch Osama Bin Laden. However, the project does provoke an interesting debate about perfection.

I am in the camp that accepts that baking recipes have to be formulaic, while a stir-fry does not. That is not to say that some mistakes are not delicious.

Someone who has to sell a cake has to depend heavily on presentation, while a mum might make a cake with love, and it will be received in that spirit even if it sinks.

In my case, the battle I fight on the appearance front is against the crevasse. That Grand Canyon-sized crack that opens up in cakes, lemon tarts and cheesecakes if you so much as overcook them for a few minutes. I have heaped more decorations onto cakes to hide cake crevasse syndrome than I care to remember. The remedy is one that bakers tremble to do: take it out when still very slightly wobbly.

Start with this cheesecake, and remember that it is very difficult to make a cake that is a total disaster.

And to hell with cake-preservation technology. If a cake needs shelf life, it can’t be any good.

Serves 10-12

You will need a 20 x 20 x 5cm/ 8 x 8 x 2 inch square tin with a removable base or a similar-sized round tin with removable base.

For the base

200g/7oz digestive biscuits

85g/3oz unsalted butter

For the top

750g/1lb 10oz ricotta

250g/9oz full-fat cream cheese

5 eggs

2 egg yolks

125g/4 ½ oz caster sugar

Pinch of ground cinnamon

200ml/7 fl oz single cream

30g/1 oz sifted plain flour

To serve:

6 fresh figs, quartered, or other summer fruit such as peaches, apricots, plums, cherries or raspberries

Grease the tin with butter on the base and side, then line it with a piece of baking parchment that is larger than the base. Press well into the corners of the tin, then grease the tin again. This is to prevent the filling or the butter in the base mixture leaking out during baking.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Either grind the biscuits to a fine breadcrumb texture in a food processor, or put them in a polythene bag and bash with a rolling pin or similar blunt instrument. Melt the butter in a pan and mix well with the crumbs in a bowl, to make a sweet-smelling mass. Tip them into the base of the tin and press down to make an even layer about 1cm thick. If any crumbs are sticking to the sides of the tin, gently brush them off.

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl or stand mixer, adding them one by one in the order they are listed. Pour carefully into the tin, then place in the oven and bake until just set. This takes about 1-1½ hours but the trick is to remove the cheese cake from the oven when the central area is still a bit wobbly and not quite set. This is because the cake will continue to cook for a time after being removed from the oven, and if a bit overdone the cheesecake will crack and may taste a little drier. Cover it with the fresh fruit anyway – it will still be lovely to eat.

Your letters (email Rose at [email protected])

If a Baking Club ingredients list shows more than 6 eggs, there will be emails and letters querying the number. The cheese tart, watercress tart and, more recently, a honey, lemon and lavender traybake in the Telegraph magazine all attracted letters. “I wonder if you would kindly confirm if this large amount of eggs is indeed correct,” is one example, put so politely by reader Francine Liebert when she would have been justified in saying, as others often do: “No cake can contain that much.” But they do, sometimes, unless my fingers slip on the keyboard: 18 eggs for a traybake serving 24 is not outrageous. In future I will try to point out a high egg count so as not to cause alarm.

Next week: Oreo-no’s. You will need: granulated sugar, unsalted butter, flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and black food-colouring paste (from Jane Asher). For the filling: icing sugar, unsalted butter, white chocolate


Recommended wine: Petit Guiraud Sauternes halves 2010

The added richness in the wine, from the oak aging, will complement the fig in this cheese cake very well. Two half bottles should just about get round the 10-12 people too.

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013