CREAMY BAKED CHEESECAKE

My mother LOVES cheesecake, so whenever I want to treat her, it’s always at the top of my list. Once you’ve got that failsafe recipe that you’ve tried and tested so much you know it can’t fail, you’ve got a great foundation. From here it gets really fun, because you can get so creative with the toppings - and you can make it really personal. Anything goes, as long as it’s beautiful and delicious!

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The trick to baking a great cheesecake is not about fancy footwork or even sparing no expense with your ingredients. It’s about patience. It took me years to find a method that worked for me, and in the end, all it came down to was slowing down. Don’t try to wrap it all up in one hour; a baked cheesecake should taste like you went to a bit of effort - like you made it with love. I found my cheesecake sweet spot when I reduced the heat of the oven and extended the baking time. No tears, cracks or burns - it was the perfect balance.

The great thing is that once you’ve got that perfect base, the real fun starts. Decorating a cheesecake gives you endless options! There are just so many flavour combinations you can try; wine-poached pears, white chocolate and almonds with edible flowers, chocolate and berries, salted caramel popcorn. Unlike a chocolate cake, a cheesecake has a very neutral taste, so it pairs well with a wide variety of ingredients. So here, without further ado, is my go-to, can’t-go-wrong, baked cheesecake recipe…

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CREAMY BAKED CHEESECAKE

prep time: 2 ½ hours / serves: 8 – 10

INGREDIENTS

for the biscuit base

  • 1 packet (200 g) digestive biscuits

  • 50 g (60 ml) light brown sugar

  • 100 g (110 ml) butter, melted

for the filling

  • 1 kg smooth cream cheese

  • 210 g (250 ml) caster sugar

  • 45 ml cake flour

  • 5 eggs

  • 125 ml cream

  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

METHOD

for the biscuit base

  1. Place the biscuits and sugar in a food processor and blend until the mixture is super fine.

  2. Melt the butter and add it to the crumb mixture, blending it well.

  3. Line the base of an 18 cm loose-base cake tin (7.5 cm deep) with baking paper. Spray the tin with non-stick food spray. (Tip: You can also bake this cheesecake in a standard 23 cm cake tin, but you’ll lose some of the height. The baking time stays exactly the same.)

  4. Press the mixture onto the bottom and halfway up the cake tin. Then, let it chill in the fridge while you move on to the filling. 

for the filling

  1. Heat the oven to 120 °C. Place the cream cheese, caster sugar and flour in the bowl of your KitchenAid Artisan Mixer or similar appliance. Whisk all the ingredients together for 2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of bowl with a spatula and folding it in to ensure you’ve got it all.

  2. Add the eggs one by one and whisk well after each egg has been added.

  3. Add the cream and whisk for 5 minutes. Then, add the vanilla seeds and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and place the tin on a baking tray before popping it into the oven to bake for 2 hours. After two episodes of JAN, switch the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven. This helps to prevent it from tearing.

  4. Decorate it any way you like!