I love a good family gathering. Besides how nice it is to see everyone and have a good old catch up over endlessly flowing booze, it means that I get to bake something a bit more special to feed a crowd. Moving away from my much loved brownies and bars for a moment, I have baked a cheesecake! My first ever proper cheesecake. There has been a no-bake cheesecake occurrence when I was living without an oven, which tasted delicious, but I’ve decided it doesn’t count. This was an impressively technical bake, in actual fact. It involved fashioning a little tin foil jacket for my tin, making it a nice warm water bath and many many steps making up the all important cooling process. And it was so worth it!
Ingredients (Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp warm water
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups digestive crumbs
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 24 ounces full fat cream cheese
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a circular 9-inch springform pan with butter. Make the blueberry sauce first, as this will be swirled on top of the cheesecake before it goes into the oven. Whisk together the cornstarch, lemon juice and warm water until the cornstarch has dissolved, and set aside.
For the base, mix the digestive biscuit crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a large bowl until combined.Press into the bottom of the prepared tin, going only a little bit up the sides. Now for the ever so slightly technical part – wrap tin foil tightly over the base of the tin (so that no water can leak in at the later baking stage!) Bake the base for 8 minutes and let it cool while you prepare the filling.
Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar together in a very large bowl for 3 minutes until it is smooth, light and creamy. I say large because the volume of this filling becomes a bit of a monster you create unknowingly – it just gets bigger and bigger! Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, then beat until combined. Slowly at one egg at a time, beating after each addition until just mixed. Try not to overmix the filling. Pour the mixture into your cooled crust, levelling out the top a little by lifting up the tin and tapping it on the table.
Now you can dollop spoonfuls of blueberry sauce onto the batter, and swirl them in using a butter knife. I used rather a lot of sauce, and then wished I’d saved a bit more for serving, so you can be as sparing or generous as you like!
Place the tin into a large roasting pan and put it in the oven. Pour in 1 inch of hot water to make the water bath and bake for 60 minutes until the centre is almost set (it will have a bit of wobble still, but that’s fine, it will carry on cooking as it cools). Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let it sit for 1 hour. Remove it from the oven and allow to cool completely, before putting it in the fridge overnight. By the time you’re ready to serve, it will be perfectly set and easily removable from the tin, ready to be eaten topped with more of the lovely blueberry sauce!
The only tweaks that I made to this recipe were to halve the amount of butter in the crust as it would have just been a soggy mess – maybe graham crackers are drier than our digestives? The other was that I replaced normal digestives with gluten free, as a little segue into gluten free baking. It’s going to be a long, troublesome road, but I am determined to eat as many sugar laden things without flour as possible. Next time, I would use the same basic recipe for the cheesecake but maybe try out a gingernut base with a white chocolate and crystallised ginger filling, drizzled with homemade caramel sauce (imitating my favourite Japanese chain restaurant – Wags do cracking desserts!)