Totally Addicted to Base

Hands down the best classic cheesecake recipe I have....thank you Donna Hay! The best part is, you can tweak it and bring in different flavours. Every time I make it I tell myself I'll try a chocolate base...or infuse with lime or vanilla bean...but at the moment I can't go past the classic. 

As for the `totally addicted to base' reference? Luke and my little sister use that to explain his obsession with cheesecake bases...he would totally love a cheesecake that was 50% base & 50% filing. So when I make this recipe...I always do extra base...no matter whose birthday it is.

The best part? Even though the recipe doesn't call for it...you can use light* cream cheese and light ricotta and you're not missing out on anything. I think this is what has made it a repeat birthday request in our family...and that in itself makes a statement because you know I love trying out new cake recipes.  The crust is slightly crumbly, the filling is just creamy enough without going overboard...and if you make the light version you can justify a second sliver of a serving :)

Donna Hay's Classic Baked Cheesecake

110g plain sweet biscuits (I use Marie Biscuits)
80g almond meal
60g melted butter

1.5 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
1.5 tbsp water
330g cream cheese at room temperature
460g ricotta
4 eggs
295g caster sugar (or superfine sugar)
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice

Put biscuits in food processor and blend until fine crumbs. Add almond meal and butter. If you've gone with a few extra biscuits to maximise the base, bump up the butter a little bit as well and just use your eye to judge when it starts to hold together slightly, a bit like wet sand. 

Press mixture into lightly greased 20cm spring form pan. I do the trick I learned from the last cake and cover the base with baking paper and then put the spring form sides over the top to hold it in place...makes for easier transferring later. If you want the base to go up the sides, just use a smooth drinking glass to encourage it in that direction...it doesn't have to be perfect...uneven edging makes for a more rustic home made looking cheesecake in the end. The word `rustic' should be used liberally for anything that may not match the picture in the cook book! Refrigerate the base whilst you're doing the next bit.

Pre heat oven to 150 degrees (300F) and wipe the crumbs out of the food processor so you can use it for the filling. Put cornflour and water in small bowl and mix together smoothly to make a paste. Process the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cornflour paste, ricotta, eggs, sugar & lemon juice/rind and process until smooth. Remove base from fridge and pour in filling and carry carefully to oven! Bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes but just keep an eye on the edges of the base and the colouring of the cheesecake to judge when cooked.

From what I can tell, cracks in the surface of a cheesecake occur when it cools down too quickly. So, I usually stop the oven at 1 hour, and use a wooden spoon to hold open the door of the oven slightly to start letting cooler air in. After about 20 minutes I open the door almost halfway and then let it sit longer. Then I pull it out of the oven and let it rest on the bench for longer again.  The last step is the fridge...where you want it to cool properly overnight before serving. Never serve it a few hours after cooking...it's not the same.

But, don't panic if there are cracks...the first four I made all had Grand Canyon-Esque cracks but I just covered them with berry coulis...no-one is going to care because it tastes so yummy.  The berry coulis is just 1 pack (450g) of frozen berries in a small saucepan on low to very low on the stove...I sprinkle with approx 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar and stir occasionally...until fully defrosted and slightly reduced.  Taste test at this point...you don't want them to taste sugary...and they might depending on how much sugar you used...so add some left over lemon juice from the cheesecake to get a slight tang...it compliments the sugary creaminess of the cheesecake better :) If your cheesecake consumers are anything like my family, you want to have a decent amount of coulis that allows for seconds/leftovers. I do at least one, if not two packs of berries.

Served best amongst the unwrapping of presents, good coffee & multiple conversations at once...the kind that always happen when family gets together to celebrate :)

*I haven't yet risked the extra light versions of these cheeses...the cornflour paste may have to be increased a little bit to compensate...if you have success with a super light cheesecake let me know!