Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lucious Low(ish) fat baked Lemon Cheesecake

Rating: Really easy
Time: About 1.5 hours to bake (including the base and the filling), about 20 minutes prep

So today was a reminder that even the most simple cakes can be heavenly.
Below is the recipe for a lower fat lemon cheesecake that is baked, but almost has the texture of a no-bake one. (sorry about the terrible picture, I only remembered to take one once it had already been massacred!). I say lower fat, as 50% of the filling is low-fat, 50% full fat. I find this tends to give the depth of flavour that full fat has, while still reducing the fat content by about half.
I also don't really like biscuit based cheesecake, so made a shortcrust/shortbread-like base for this one. It worked out brilliantly! Yay! Light and crispy and not too heavy and fatty. I also only made enough to cover the base, not go up the sides of the tin. If you want the base to go up the sides, just double the quantity.

Ok, now for the recipe...

- 50g Almond meal
- 100g plain flour
- 50g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, softened and chopped into small cubes

- 5 medium lemons (you need ~ 1/3 cup of juice, and the zest of 1)
- about 150g or 1/2 cup of caster sugar (or to taste - 1/2 cup tends to make this a little tart, which is how I like lemon things to be, but for those who prefer sweeter things, just add a bit more)
- 3 eggs
- 250g of low-fat sour cream*
- 250g of full fat cream cheese*

*make sure these are at room temperature. It will make it much easier to beat them until smooth. If you use them straight from the fridge you'll have lumps that will never go away

To make the base, combine butter, flour, almond meal and caster sugar in a small bowl (remember, if you want it to go up the sides then double the quantity of all ingredients here). Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then tip into a well greased, paper-lined 23cm springform tin (make sure the paper lining it goes all the way up the sides, as you'll want that there to stop the filling sticking to the sides of the tin later - if you don't do this it can give a weird metal taste to the filling). Press mixture into pan evenly over the base, and bake in a 150 degree (celcius) oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until it is golden brown .
Take out the oven and cool while you make the filling (it should be room temperature to cold before you put the filling in, no hotter or you'll start to melt the cheese and cook the eggs when the mixture hits the base).
As an aside, this is basically a hybrid short-crust pastry and shortbread biscuit recipe, so the more you work it  the firmer it will be. I wanted a light, crispy-crumbly base that was only just firm enough to hold together, so worked the mix only to fine breadcrumb texture. If you want it firmer, work it more (but not too much as you'd not want a really tough base, surely?!)

To make the filling combine sugar and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth. Then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add a spoonful of sourcream and beat until smooth. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl and adding spoons of sour cream and beating smooth until all the sour cream is in. This is the best way I've found to get a nice smooth batter. If you add it all in together at the beginning you tend to end up with little lumps that are almost impossible to get rid of. I'd also suggest starting slow then speeding the mixer up as it starts to get smoother, otherwise it'll slop everywhere. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, add the lemon zest and the eggs 1 at a time, beating well in between adding each egg. At this point it should go quite liquid. While beating, add lemon juice and continue to beat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth and the chances of it curdling are past :)

*NOTE: Having made this one multiple times now, I've found that separating the eggs and only beating in the yolks works well. I then beat the whites to stiff-peak, and fold them into the mixture (half at a time, folding them in after the lemon juice has been added) to make it even lighter and more mousse like. It works really well - I'd recommend doing that every time from now on!!!*

Pour mixture onto base, and bake in a 150 degree (celcius) oven for about 50 minutes, or until just set in the middle (it should be a little springy to the touch, but might look a little wobbly in the middle. This is ok, it should firm up on standing).
Turn the oven off, leave the door open and allow the cake to cool. In theory this should stop it cracking, but I was impatient and just took it out the oven so mine cracked hugely. Having said that, even when I've tried doing this to stop the cracking, it's still always cracked for me. Any ideas as to how to stop that happening?!

Once the cheesecake is cooled, you can either serve it dusted with icing sugar, or make a tangy lemon jelly to go over the top. Beware if your cake has cracked, the jelly will sink into the cake and form a layer near the bottom (mine did this). This does work well, but I think for simplicity sake I'll just dust with icing sugar next time. If you put jelly on the top, make sure you don't remove the paper yet!!! otherwise it'll leak ;)

To make the jelly, I added a few spoons of caster sugar to a heat-proof measuring jug, and dissolved that sugar in boiling water. Next I added some limoncello and lemon juice (to taste), and a little more warm water. I then dissolved a few teaspoons of gelatin into the liquid (there should be directions on the gelatine packet indicating how many teaspoons of gelatine you'll need to set a particular volume of liquid) and allowed it to cool. When it cooled to about room temperature, I poured it over the top of the cheesecake and stuck it in the fridge until it was set. You could use a sweeter packet dessert jelly for this, and of course the more jelly you have, the thicker the layer will be ;)

This was a delicious cake, silky smooth and light. The base stayed crisp, the jelly was tart and the filling had almost a moussey texture. I've made it a few times now, it's really easy to make and is sure to be a hit with everyone.

In a word? Easy!

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