28 June, 2007

June recipe: Strawberry cheesecake

Yes, Glastonbury Festival a foot deep in mud, severe flooding, play repeatedly delayed by rain at the Wimbledon lawn tennis tournament – it can only be summer in England. The item above all others that marks out TH White’s Arthurian epic The Once and Future King as fantasy isn’t the griffin hunt, or the spells that turn the young Arthur into a variety of animals or Merlin’s second sight, it’s the line, “But in Old England there was a greater marvel still. The weather behaved itself.”

Be that as it may, the long daylight hours still persuade soft fruit to ripen, and the blackbirds in my garden have kindly left a few strawberries for us to eat (or perhaps they missed them among the weeds, which love warm wet weather and are doing a passable imitation of a jungle). So here’s a summer dessert recipe for this month. If you don’t like or can’t get strawberries, you can substitute any dessert fruit of your choice.

Strawberry cheesecake

For the pastry:
8 oz (approx 250 g) plain flour
3 oz (approx 100 g) icing sugar
4 oz (approx 125 g) butter
1 egg
Or you can use ready-made pastry if you prefer

For the cheesecake:
4 oz (approx 125 g) cream cheese
1.5 oz (approx 40 g) sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
1 egg, separated
4 fluid oz (approx 100 ml) double cream (or whipping cream, I think the US name may be heavy cream)

For the topping:
Sliced or whole strawberries (or fruit of your choice)

To make the pastry:
Cream the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the egg.
Beat in the flour to form a dough.
This quantity of pastry is enough for three 7-inch tart cases, so divide the dough into three and freeze two of them.
Wrap one portion in cling film or foil and refrigerate for about an hour.
Roll out the pastry on a floured board, and line a greased tart tin about 7 inches (approximately 18 cm) in diameter. Don’t try to roll it out too thin. If the pastry breaks or tears when you lift it into the tin, don’t worry too much. Arrange the pieces in the tin, press the broken edges back together like Plasticene and you’ll probably get away with it.
Bake the empty tart case in a hot oven (about 200 C) for about 15 minutes until golden brown and set. You can go through the palaver of blind-baking with the pastry weighted down with beans or marbles if you like, but I never bother.
Cool on a wire rack.
Or you can just buy a ready-made tart case of your choice.

To make the cheesecake:
Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until well mixed and smooth.
Beat in the vanilla essence.
Separate the egg, put the egg white in a clean bowl, and beat the egg yolk into the cream cheese and sugar.
Whip the egg white until stiff (an electric whisk is a boon here). Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
Whip the cream until stiff. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
Pour into the cooked pastry case. (If there is any left over that won’t fit in the tart case, which may happen if your tart tin is a little smaller than mine, put it in a wine glass and it will set to something resembling a vanilla mousse. Or just eat any leftover mixture out of the mixing bowl, which I confess is what I do).
Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight to set. If you don’t have time to wait, the cheesecake will still be just as delicious to eat, but it won’t have set and you’ll find it flows off the spoon when you serve it instead of staying in a neat slice.

To finish:
Top the set cheesecake with strawberries, sliced, halved or whole according to personal preference.
Dust with icing sugar if liked.
Serve cut into slices. I generally expect to get 6-8 slices out of this recipe, but it depends on how large a slice you like…
Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, if it gets the chance.

6 comments:

Bernita said...

Sinful!

Alianore said...

Ohhhh, I adore strawberry cheesecake!

Hope you got your PC problems sorted out, by the way!

Carla said...

Bernita - Why sinful? I never had you down as a closet Puritan :-)

Alianore - the saga continues (sigh)

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Hi Carla

I've been dipping into your blog and have been meaning to say for ages how simply delicious those stem ginger biscuits are. I've made several batches already for various visitors and colleagues at work. I'm going to order your new novel soon and will look forward to reading it with a nice cup of tea and some of those stem ginger biscuits. And now it looks as if I shall have to accompany them with a slice of your strawberry cheesecake! How many calories does reading use up per hour? Oh dear...

Constance said...

Ummm, cheesecake. Although I'm a bit lazy about making my own crust, unless its mashing some graham crackers together.

The rule at our house, is if the cheesecake only fits in one pie pan, it's too small. Make more. :)

Carla said...

Hello Sarah, nice to hear from you again. I'm delighted to hear you liked the biscuits (and I hope you enjoy the novel just as much; I'll be interested to hear your opinion). If you're offering the cheesecake to polite company, do make sure you let it set overnight! Alas, I think reading only uses the same calories as basal metabolism, as the brain seems to need the same amount of energy whether it's actually doing something or just ticking over. But on the other hand, I bet a small-ish slice of cheesecake or a couple of ginger biscuits compares pretty favourably in calorie load with something like a chocolate-coated Penguin biscuit or a packet of crisps, and it's far more of a treat.

Constance - Good point, I forgot to mention the biscuit crust option. I almost never buy biscuits so I never have them in the house to make biscuit crust with, so pastry is easier for me. Maybe I should edit the post to add biscuit crust as an alternative, if I can remember the proportions.