The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
This month's challenge was, as you can see, cheesecake. I had never made one before but I love cheesecake and have wanted to make one for some time so this was a terrific opportunity. I decided to use a 6" springform pan as opposed to the standard 8" pan as I wanted to make a smaller but taller cake. This made me a little nervous, convincing myself that the centre of the cake would be undercooked, but I tacked on about ten minutes of extra cooking time and it came out beautifully. I was surprised at how light a homemade cheesecake is compared to the dense slices you get at a restaurant.
I'm a bit of a curd nut and I tend to make one whenever an opportunity presents itself. I decided to keep this Daring Bakers Challenge very simple, as the last two desserts that I made were fairly elaborate (by an amateurs standards, that is) and what better way than to make a simple lime cheesecake with a clean and delicious lime curd on top. The curd had a nice sour bite to it and contrasted very well with the creaminess of the cheesecake. As for the crust, you can see that it's a little thicker around the edges making it lean inward toward the middle. No big whoop. Just something to note for next time.
I had a ball making it and it was a big hit with the family. Thanks to Lisa and Ivonne over at the Daring Bakers for another terrific challenge!
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!
2/3 c. fresh lime juice
3/4 c. granulated sugar
6 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
1) Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly for 12 minutes, or until thickened. Take saucepan off the heat and stir in the lemon zest
2) Pour carefully through a wire mesh strainer and into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.