Friday, July 10, 2009

A Match Made in Heaven


Strawberries and cheese. Who would have thought this combination works? Blueberries and cheese, check. Oreo and cheese, check. Chocolate and cheese, check. But strawberries? This was new till I came to Melb. Cafe Greco is The Place to go for this amazing combo! Heavenly!

For a couple of years, any time I had a cheesecake craving, I would travel down 20 mins. I thought that this dessert was best bought. Baking it was off limits! That was until last year. At a potluck.

To cut the story short, I loved the blueberry cheesecake my friend baked and asked her for the recipe. Being a recipe freak (as one of my friends dubbed me), I planned to follow it line by line and use blueberries. But alas! When I went to the supermarket, a box of blueberries costed $7-8 per 150g. !!! Unbelievable..Saving costs and feeling adventurous, I replaced them with fresh strawberries. I have never looked back since :D

So after my first try, I baked this cake twice more to date. Being the first cake I baked, it taught me a few things about cheesecakes.

1. Don't skip the water bath (see make filling, step 5). This method actually gives the cake the smooth dense cheesecake consistency! But if u're a first time cheesecake baker, don't be surprised if it doesnt turn out that way after the oven. It's only after the cake's been cooled in the fridge. One trouble I still have is water leaking into the crumb base. I tried covering the pan with double the aluminium but somehow the base was still wet. I'd probably triple it next shot.

2. For maximum effect, the cream cheese and eggs should be in room temperature. Cream cheese is har
d to beat when it's cold and it saves time when u start.

3. Baking a cheesecake is long! i'll bake it at night and continue the next day, but...It's WORTH IT :)

Anyway, here's the recipe :D

Strawberry Cheesecake
(makes a 20 cm cake)

For crust
280g graham cracker/digestive biscuit crumbs
60g unsalted butter, melted
30g sugar

For filling

2x250g cream cheese, room temperature
180g sugar
30g all purpose flour
3 large eggs
250g sour cream
30ml milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

For topping
50g strawberry jam
strawberries - enough to cover the cake (usually I'll just buy a 250g box)


To make crust
1. Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 190 degrees C. Wrap outside of a 20cm spring form pan with 2-3 sheets of heavy-duty foil.
2. Combine all crust ingredients in the processor. Blend using on/off turns just until crumbs are moist.
If you don't have a processor, just put biscuits into a zip-lock bag and use fingers to break them into crumbs. Transfer to bowl, add sugar and mix. Then pour in melted butter and mix till moist.
3. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and 5cm up the sides of prepared pan
4. Bake until crust begins to brown, about 8-10 mins. Transfer crust to rack and cool. Maintain oven temperature.

To make filling
1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until well blended.
2. Beat in flour
3. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until just combined
4. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla until mixed well
5. Pour filling into crust
6. Place the spring form pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come up 2.5cm up the sides of the spring form. (i.e. water bath).
7. Bake cheesecake until just set in center and top is slightly puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour.
8. Turn off oven, keep door closed. Let cheesecake stand in oven 1 hour.
9. Remove cheesecake from roasting pan. Refrigerate until cold (at least 6 hours). Cover and refrigerate overnight

To make topping
1. Stir strawberry jam in a large skillet over low heat until melted
2. Add strawberries; toss to coat
3. Spoon strawberry mixture over top of cake, spreading evenly.
4. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour
4. Run small sharp knife around sides of cake to loosen. Release pan sides and transfer cake to platter

The Start

Ok, so this is my first post of the food blog.

I can't put up new recipes or pics yet as i'm currently in HK on a summer program. As much as I wanna bake, sadly the apartment i'm renting doesn't let me. yea it does have a kitchen, but its limited to pots and pans. no oven. this is the longest I've gone without baking in...several

It's such a pity! the supermarket here in HK is awesome!! it has a separate section specially dedicated to baking ingredients, utensils and equipment XD I can go hyper just by looking at it. They have the tart pans, cake pans, pudding/jelly molds, cupcake papers, etc in all sizes, and 2 rows of the different baking powders, essences, marzipans, icing and ready-made mixes. Where else can u find all of them in one place?melbourne does have this baking equipment shop called Let's Cook. but last i went, many of its baking trays were out of stock.

I bought myself two different tart pans, one 18cm and the other 21cm. Before I went back, I also bought the mini ones. I'm thinking of using them to practice making tarts this coming semester, with egg tarts topping the list. Egg tarts here in HK are delicious! I think they put almond flavour or the powder inside..I have yet to experiment with it soon.


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