Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers challenge - cheesecake centrepiece

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Although I enjoy eating baked cheesecakes, I’ve never made one before. It’s not that I felt daunted by it; it’s just that I didn’t have a decent recipe. My favourite cheesecake is a simple lemon cheesecake, the recipe given to us by a family friend called Coral. A mixture of condensed milk, whipped cream, cream cheese and lemon juice, it’s as easy to make as it is delicious to eat. It’s also unbaked, with the ingredients combined and then set through refrigeration.

So I looked forward to this month’s challenge, cheesecake centrepiece. Although the recipe was quite basic, our challenge this month was to play with the basic recipe and add our own flavourings to make a unique, showstopper of a dessert. The recipe Jenny used is that of her friend Abbey, who is well known for her fabulous cheesecakes – hence the recipe title!

With all the family coming for a special lunch to celebrate our daughter’s christening, the cheesecake recipe provided the perfect dessert. I flavoured the cheesecake with coffee and Baileys Irish Cream, which was a hit with the eager audience. Although Jenny wanted us to go all out with an impressive topping for the cake, I ended up keeping it simple. I had planned to make some caramelised walnuts to sprinkle over the top but I ran out of time and I was also concerned to not overpower the cheesecake with too many flavours or too much sweetness. In the end, though, the cheesecake was perfectly balanced with the coffee and Baileys flavours; anything else would have made it too rich and sweet.

I really liked the texture of this cheesecake, as did my audience. It was firm and rich but not overpowering or cloyingly sweet. Although very easy to make, it did, however, require quite a time commitment: at least one hour of baking, one hour of cooling in the oven and then overnight refrigeration. It is an impressive dessert, though, and this is one recipe I’ll be adding to my repertoire. But I’ll still be keeping my simple lemon cheesecake recipe for those occasions where I don’t have as much time.

Thanks very much to Jenny for choosing such a great recipe. I apologise for presenting it so plainly; some of the photos of cheesecakes that other Daring Bakers have produced have been absolute masterpieces! But I think the real highlight of this cheesecake was how it tasted, not how it looked.
Here is Jenny's recipe, with my Australian modifications.

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

1 packet digestive biscuits (I used McVittie’s but you could also use Marie or Nice, or the original recipe specified graham crackers, although I don’t think we have them in Australia)
125g butter, melted
(The original recipe also called for 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, but I omitted these, as I like a plain crust and thought the sugar would make it unnecessarily sweet)

3 x 250g packets of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (I used caster sugar)
3 large eggs
1 cup thickened cream
1-2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Boil the kettle or a large pot of water (to use in the water bath).

Crush the digestive biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Press into a 20cm springform tin, pressing into both the bottom and up the sides. Wrap the springform tin in alfoil to make it watertight (some recipes specify to just wrap it around the base, but I use a large sheet of alfoil so that it fully encloses the tin. At the very least, you need to make sure the alfoil is higher than the halfway mark of the tin, as otherwise water will seep in when you place the tin in the water bath). Set aside.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg.

Take one-quarter of the cup of cream and heat (I found in the microwave is best) until hot. Stir in the instant coffee powder until dissolved. Add the cream, coffee cream mix, vanilla extract and Baileys and blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour into the prepared crust and tap the pan a few times to bring all the air bubbles to the surface. Place the springform tin into a large baking dish and pour in boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the tin.

Bake the cheesecake for 45 to 55 minutes, until it’s almost done. This is hard to judge but you’re looking for the cake to hold together but still jiggle in the centre. It shouldn’t be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let the cheesecake rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and lift carefully out of the water bath and put onto the kitchen bench. Let it finish cooling on the bench and then cover and put in the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day, unmould, serve and enjoy the adulation!


Cakelaw said...

Coffee and Irish cream flavour sounds lovely, and I like your extended crust.

Claire said...

Looks great! I'm glad everyone liked it. I have a simple lemon cheesecake that I use as well...those simple ones are hard to give up!

Audax Artifex said...

Coffee and Baileys Irish Cream yummy and O so nice for a party. Great job on this month's challenge I just love the photo. Yours Audax

Kristen said...

Great Job, it looks so yummy! I love cheesecake, can't wait till tomorrow to post mine :).

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Love your's calling me to dive right in! YUM!!

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar said...

Coffee and Baileys... what a great flavour combination. Your cheesecake looks delicious!

BC said...

Mine was kept fairly simple too since it was my first gluten free crust. It was a divine texture!

Erin said...

I thought about using coffee in a future cheesecake, for a mocha flavor. Baileys would be great, too! Nice job!

Audax said...

Would you mind sending me the recipe for Coral's cheesecake I have to make a cheesecake on holidays and no oven.

Holly said...

Fabulous job on the cheesecake! Love the flavour you just picked!

Jenny said...

I think this flavor combination sounds excellent. Thanks for being a part of this month's challenge!

Jenny of JennyBakes

Andreas said...

Hmmm, Bailys and cheesecake go together quite well.

ice tea: sugar high said...

Coffee and baileys.. yummmmm! That will surely hit the spot. Well done