Harriet's Vanilla Cheesecake
When my daughter, Harriet was married she quite rightly thought it was of paramount importance that her wedding cake was actually made of cheesecake, which happily gave us the perfect excuse for countless tasting sessions in search of optimum flavour and texture. This recipe was eventually chosen as the best and, fortunately, it is extremely easy to make. The wedding cake tiers were surrounded with dark chocolate curls and topped with raspberries. Very good it was too. The cheesecake rises dramatically as it cooks and then settles down in an attractive wobbly way as it cools. It is extremely light and any cracks in its top or sides are a badge of honour, testament to its fragile airiness. Away from weddings, my Strawberries in Lipstick are the perfect partner.
Oven 180c, 160c fan, gas 4 .You will need a 20cm spring release cake tin, lined (see Helpful Hints)
175g digestive biscuits, crushed
75g unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, separated
Pinch of cream of tartar
175g cream cheese (full fat)
100g caster sugar
100g créme fraiche
2 tsp. plain flour
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
Squeeze of lemon juice
Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and press into a lined cake tin. Slip it into the fridge to set whilst you continue.
Whisk the two egg whites (from the separated eggs) in a small bowl with the cream of tartar until the whites form firm peaks In a larger bowl whisk the cream cheese until smooth then add the sugar, crème fraiche, flour, vanilla extract, the two whole eggs, the two egg yolks and the squeeze of lemon juice and whisk well.
Carefully fold the egg whites into the mixture
Pour into the cake tin with its collar in place (see Helpful Hints) Bake oven 180c (see above) for 50 minutes to an hour.
The cheesecake will have risen dramatically and should wobble a little. Allow to cool completely (preferably over night) before attempting to remove the collar and tin.
To prepare the cake tin: Grease and bottom line the tin with baking parchment. Take a piece of foil approximately 65cm long, fold it in half 3 times and lightly oil it on both sides. You should now have a long triple thickness strip of foil which can be curled inside the cake tin to create a collar. There is no need to fasten it, the filling will hold everything in place
Don't use your freshest eggs when whisking egg whites, slightly older whites from eggs at room temperature whisk more easily. The cream of tartar is not essential but gives whisked egg whites extra body. Avoid using a plastic bowl if you can because plastic can so easily be slightly greasy and grease will prevent the whites from whisking well.
If making a construction with the cheesecake (eg wedding cake) remember you will need dowels to give strength to the fluffy layers.
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