Yes! It’s dessert week on GBBO (2015)! Three cheers for desserts!
I have such a sweet tooth. When Mr E & I eat out he will often order two desserts on the pretence that we have will have one each, but in reality they are both for me; and yet I wonder why my waistline is increasing! So when GBBO’s Dessert Week was televised I was found sat glued to the TV screen, watching the fabulously delicious desserts being created.
GBBO’s dessert week (2015) saw the bakers being challenged with Crème Brule for their Signature Dish, a technical bake set by Mary of a Spanish Windtorte (which is actually Austrian!), and a 3 tier cheesecake for their Showstopper. I really was in a quandary as to which bake I should attempt! Over the past 3 weeks I’d been selecting the bake which we would enjoy the most; but this week I would enjoy all three (I say I, as Mr E really isn’t a dessert person)! This week it actually crossed my mind to make all three bakes! Yes, really!
No doubt it’s abundantly obvious that we decided to attempt to make a baked a cheesecake. I adore cheesecake. I had a 3 tier design and flavour combo in mind and a clear idea as to how I would stack it, but coming back to reality making a 3 tier cheesecake for our 8 legged household, 4 of which belong to our feline friend, such a bake simply wasn’t practical. So as a nod to GBBO, we scaled back the cheesecake to a single one tier bake. Our cake clearly hasn’t got the same ‘WOW’ factor as those in the bake-off tent, but we’re more than happy with the outcome and, most importantly, the taste.
Now, I had envisaged making a raspberry & white chocolate cheesecake, but since stumbling across some bilberries growing wild above Haworth on a day prior to my bake, those raspberries morphed into bilberries. I spent half an hour picking as many of the beauties as I could. These little berries are so much smaller than their cousin, the blueberry, and sweeter too. Just remember, the bilberry pie isn’t called ‘mucky mouth pie’ for no good reason – the colour of my fingers after picking them and the stain on one of our wooden spoons is testimony to that!
Post Script: since posting this recipe, one or two people have commented that they are unfamiliar with bilberries and not too sure what they look like. I should have included a picture of the bushes and the berries, sorry! Here are a few links to information about bilberries and where you can either pick them or buy them as they’re not often found in supermarkets, but if you can’t get your hands on any bilberries blueberries will work just as well.
- A chat forum about bilberries and places you can buy or pick them.
- A page which includes an image of the humble bilberry on the bush along with nutrition information
So about our cheesecake. The cheesecake is baked, as stipulated by Mel & Sue, consisting of a biscuit base topped with a standard mix of cream-cheese, soured cream, eggs and melted white chocolate. It ‘hides’ a layer of bilberry coulis, (thickened with a vegetarian gel in the hope that they wouldn’t sink), in the centre and is topped with a bilberry jelly decorated with white chocolate swirls. My idea for some pretty chocolate work sadly didn’t come to fruition due to a lack of skill (note to self, practice your chocolate work!) The cake itself is seriously yummy. It’s rich, creamy and flavoursome sat upon a beautiful biscuit base. It really has been enjoyed by family and friends, as well as your truly.
Now, having never made a baked cheesecake before, despite loving them so much, I have done some reading about them during the past few days. I’ve learnt that baked cheesecakes can easily crack. To reduce that risk I found several recommendations, such as baking it in a water bath; running a pallet knife around the edge of the cake after baking; allowing it to cool in the oven after baking; and to reduce the oven temperature early in the bake as stipulated in all of Eric Lanyard cheesecake recipes in his book Home Bake. I carried out all four of those tips in the hope that our baked cheesecake would emerge from the oven crack-free. Whether it was a little dose of luck or perhaps good management, our Bilberry and White Chocolate Baked Cheesecake was completely crackfree, not even a hairline fracture could be seen!
The cheesecake itself was delicious. It was creamy and packed with flavour and colour. Knowing now that baked cheesecakes aren’t too difficult I’ll certainly be making another.
The only thing I wasn’t as happy with (other than my chocolate work) was the edge of the cake. It simply doesn’t look liked a baked cheesecake edge, through trust me it is baked. I think this is down to the preparation of the cake tin. Many recipes I came across didn’t seem to line or grease the sides of the tin, so I didn’t. This meant that when the pallet knife was used to loosen the cake from the sides of the tin it interfered with the edge a little.
So let’s get to it and bake.
Bilberry & White Chocolate Baked Cheesecake Yum
Yield: 1 cheesecake
Serves: 10 -12 good slices
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Freezable: Sorry, untested
Time: hands on time about 45 minutes; plus 60 – 65 total bake time; plus cooling time.
You will need:
1 x 20cm spring form cake tin
little Butter / Margarine for greasing the tin
Electric Beaters (ideal, though not essential)
Roasting Tin large enough to sit the cake tin in
Piping Bag, or small ‘piping bag’ made from greaseproof paper
For the Biscuit Base
220g Digestive Biscuits
70g Unsalted Butter, melted
For the Cheesecake Body
600g Cream Cheese, full fat & good quality
150g Sour Cream
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
100g White Chocolate, melted
Bilberry Layer and Top
250g (approx.) bilberries (or any other soft berry)
8 tsp (approx.) Icing Sugar
1 x sachet Vegetarian Gelling Powder (for about 1 pint of liquid)
3 – 4 tbsp. Water
30g White Chocolate, melted
How to make it:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170c / Fan 150c / Gas 3.
2. Prepare the cake tin. Grease and fully line your cake tin with greaseproof paper. Cut a strip of tinfoil. Sit the cake tin in the centre of it and draw the tinfoil up the sides of the tin, scrunching it around the sides to secure (the tinfoil needs to come atleast halfway up the side of the tin.) This will help prevent any water creeping into the cake tin from the water-bath
3. Make the base. Crush the biscuits either in a food processor or encase them in a clean tea towel (perhaps in two batches) and use a rolling pin to crush them well until they are a sandy consistency. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until all of the biscuits crumbs have been coated. Tip into the prepared cake tin and smooth out. Press it down with the back of a teaspoon to compact the mixture. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Keep the oven on, set at the same temperature.
4. Meanwhile prepare the fruit mixture. Place the washed berries with the icing sugar into a small pan with the water. Place over a medium heat and allow to cook, stirring periodically. Turn off the heat after about 5 minutes and divide the mixture into two. One half will be added as a layer to the body of the cheesecake (keep the berries in this half), the other half will be used for the top.
5. Make the cream-cheese body. Place the cream-cheese into a large bowl and beat with the electric beaters (or by hand with a wooden spoon) on a slow setting for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the sour cream and lemon zest and beat again. Add the eggs in two stages, beating well after each addition. Pour in the slightly cooled melted chocolate and mix again. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 of the cheesecake mixture onto the biscuit base carefully trying to avoid disturbing the biscuit crumb. Level the mixture out.
6. Finish the fruit filling. Measure the fruit mixture which has been set aside for the filling. Dissolve sufficient powdered gelling agent to lightly set the bilberry mixture in 150ml of cool water (I found about half a sachet was enough). Mix the gelling agent with the berry liquid as per the product instructions. Once made, pour the berry mixture into a Pyrex jug and cool it by submerging the lower half of the jug in cold water. Keep stirring the mixture and finger testing the temperature. Once cool enough to prevent it ‘melting’ the cream-cheese mixture continue layering up the cake. (NB avoid leaving this fruit mixture too long as it does tend to set quite quickly once cool).
7. Layer up the cheesecake. Spoon the fruit mixture over the cheesecake, keeping a boarder of 2cm clear from the edges of the cake tin. This should mean the internal berries are kept as a surprise until the cake is sliced into. Carefully top with the remaining cheesecake mixture. Level off the mixture with the back of a spoon.
8. Bake and cool. Place the cheesecake tin into a roasting tin and place onto the oven shelf. Pour water into the roasting tin so that it comes half way up the cake tin sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 140c / Fan 120c/ Gas 1 for a further 40 – 45 minutes. The cheesecake will still have a slight wobble in the centre when it is ready. At this point, turn the oven off leaving the cheesecake in the oven for a further 2 hours sat in the water bath. This will help it cool down slowly and hopefully avoid a crack developing in the top. After 2 hours remove from the oven and roasting tin. Once full cold, cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
9. Decorate the cake with bilberry ‘jelly’. Strain the remaining berry mixture reserved for the topping to ensure there are no berries remaining. Measure the volume as before. Use the vegetarian gelling agent dissolved in a about 100ml of cold water to make a soft set ‘jelly’ (follow the instructions on the packet). Cool the berry mixture as before. Gently pour the mixture over the top of the cheesecake, quickly smoothing it out with the back of a teaspoon as necessary.
10. Remove your cheesecake from the tin. Position the cake tin over a cup and carefully unclip the cake tin, loosening it and revealing the cake. To avoid the cake tin from slipping when balanced on the cup, you may need somebody to help hold things steady. Remove the greaseproof paper and place onto your chosen cake stand.
11. Decorate with melted white chocolate. Pour the melted white chocolate into either a plastic piping bag, or one made from rolled greaseproof paper. Cut a small amount from the tip of the piping bag and drizzle the chocolate over the top of the cake in your chosen design.