Inspired by the recent Bake Off episode (check out our review of week 4 here for our inspiration!) I decided to go for it and attempt to emulate the magnificent Mary Berry by mastering the art of baked cheesecake!
Whilst the majority of the ingredients are likely to be in your cupboard, the one challenge for me was to decide on what type of soft cheese to go for and in the end I went for a generic shop brand version rather than mascarpone or ricotta. All in all, buying pretty much everything from scratch is likely to set you back about £10.
Often in cooking, it can be argued that preparation is key, but the only bit of prep you can really do with this dish is to preheat your oven and melt your butter – tasks that are not exactly arduous! That said, the instructions from Mary suggest melting the chocolate in advance to allow it to cool. However, in my experience, melting the chocolate in advance and letting it cool can end in disaster with a little one in the house as you can get distracted and end up having to melt the chocolate again!
The first real stage after the initial preparation is to get angry. Well, angry in the sense that you need to get breaking up your biscuits! Mary calls for the use of chocolate digestives but I personally decided to use regular digestives (although I opted for ‘good quality’ ones as the base is a key element of the cheesecake). I also found that the amount of biscuits that Mary suggests didn’t produce a thick enough base for me, so I eventually nearly doubled the amount she suggested (but this again was personal taste).
Contrasting to making the base, where you know a biscuit is going to be tasty, the sight of the soft cheese isn’t one that directly appealed to me and it made me question how this was going to become a tasty treat rather than a cheesy tragedy! That said, the amount of chocolate that you know is going into the cheesecake does give you that bit more confidence that it should all come together!
The instructions call for an initial whisk, and you then beat in the vanilla essence before beating again and adding in the first egg before mixing, then the second egg before again mixing in well. Contrary to Mary’s advice, I would suggest that whilst doing this (and I appreciate this means multi tasking!) you get your chocolate going as the next step is to get the chocolate mixed in with the cheese. Again, I differ from Mary at this point as I mixed all of the chocolate in one bowl of soft cheese as I didn’t personally feel that the ripples in the cheesecake added enough to the dish to make the effort worthwhile.
Rightly or wrongly my mixture ended up like this…
before being added to the base like so…
and finally ending up like the below so it’s ready for the oven!
Once you have reached this stage, Mary calls for half an hour in a preheated oven (for a fan oven this was 160C) which is guidance you need to just follow with blind faith! I didn’t – to my error as my cheesecake cracked on top after baking, showing that it had been overbaked (but it still tasted wonderful!).
After watching Great British Bake Off and listening to the contestants, I realised that it was all about the wobble – and frankly I didn’t judge mine well enough! Don’t be too alarmed if it doesn’t work out though as while it might be a bit drier on the outside and not quite as moist, the cheesecake tasted fantastic!
All in all, with not too much effort and with a certain degree of satisfaction, you get yourself a perfectly decent dessert in under two hours.
And even the mess isn’t that bad!
What I used:
200g plain digestive biscuits, crushed
100g melted butter
150g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
700g full-fat soft cheese (any will do)
225g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla esence
2 large eggs
Give it a go next time you have a spare weekend afternoon – you won’t regret it!
Categories: Cooking Experiences