New York via Bucharest Baked Cheesecake

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What is so quintessentially New York is of course good old immigrant fare. Cooking desserts with sweet cheese is part of all European sweet cooking – from Polish cheesecake (“Sernik”) to Romanian sweet cheese doughnuts (“Papanasi”) or sweet cheese pie (“Placinta de branza”) to Hungarian dill flavoured cheesecake (“Kapros (dill) Turos (curd cheese) Lepeny“) to Slovenian “prekmurska Gibanica” and more….. every country, every region, every household has a recipe.

So I thought it was a bit daft making something so rooted in the region with imported “Philadelphia” cheese and besides I think it makes a heavier cheesecake than I like. Another thing I dont like is cheesecakes made with biscuit bases – why on earth go to the trouble of making a beautiful natural filling only to make a base full of hydrogenated fats and god knows what chemicals? So after a bit of tweaking and experimenting here is my recipe that works with local Romanian ingredients and uses your basic crumble mix with an egg yolk as the base – simple simple simple!   Keep your crumble mix in bags in the freezer and you can knock up a cheesecake in 15 minutes flat. The Gluten Free base also is my GF crumble mix with an egg added so again easy and simple and no long difficult recipes just a few basic techniques linked together to create dishes.

Ingredients for quite a substantial (8-12 servings) Cheesecake in a 23cm springform tin or 6 x 10cm mini cheesecakes which are very cute

150-175g crumble mix + 1 egg yolk mixed in  (it will still be crumbly but the crumbs will stick together with the egg yolk when you press into the tin)

4 eggs

175g sugar or 120g agave nectar/honey

zest of 1 lemon

500g sour cream 30% fat content

500g “branza dulce” ie fresh sweet cheese

1 tbsp cornflour – but not essential

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Gadgets & Gizmos

Yes its true a springform cake tin really does help.  If you line very well a normal tin then you can juggle with the cake when it is VERY cold ie one whole day after and flip it onto a plate and then flip it back over again.  i did actually recently do this when, alarmingly, I had all my springforms in use and I had an order for a cheesecake! It worked but its a tiny bit nerve wracking!

How to

A small trick…take a square of baking paper and place over the base of your tin BEFORE locking on the spring part with the clasp.  This really helps the cheesecake exit gracefully. I also line the tin with a little baking paper and oil again you dont have to but it makes life easier at the end.

Press the crumble and egg mixture into the base (ie on top of the paper) and bake at 180C for 8-10minutes.  leave the oven on as the filling is so easy to make the whole thing will be back in the oven in 10 minutes.

Mix gently until just incorporated, the eggs, cream, sweet cheese, sugar and lemon zest.  If you want to add a little cornflour this will stop the cake “weeping” and I personally quite like it.  however if you have a sensitive palate you might just detect something a little “floury” in the texture. up to you. Combine the cornflour with 1 tbsp milk and add the milk/cornflour mixture.

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Pour the mixture on top of the base and place in the oven for 30-40minutes.  Its important that the centre still has a little wobble when you take it out.  The cake will carry on cooking and will set after you take it out of the oven but if you wait until the centre is also absolutely solid then the final result will be a bit too dry. it will inflate quite a bit and then as it cooks deflate…

Try to refrigerate over night and eat the next day as it will taste better and slice easier.  I personally like it with a raspberry coulis.

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