In an attempt to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics and Team GB's great performance, Olivia and I thought we would try to make something 'quintessentially' British. After looking through the Hummingbird book we settled on the Strawberries and Cream cheesecake, although traditionally associated with Wimbledon, the combination of the fruit and cream is still in keeping with a very British summer (or lack of this year).
The cake does take quite a long time to make from start to finish due to the various steps and periods of time where the cake must be left to cool or set between stages, however the actual process isn't too hard. We did encounter some problems whilst making the cheesecake, the main one being that our tin was smaller in terms of width, which meant that it was much deeper and subsequently took longer in the oven. Another thing that we believe may have been affected by the size of the tin is that all the strawberries sank to the bottom instead of being 'evenly dispersed', therefore we thought that if we make it again with the same dish we would add more strawberries to perhaps compensate. Despite these mishaps, the cake was good and in my opinion would be perfect for a summer barbecue (which I'm having later today so can put this idea to the test).
Olivia's Top Tip: when making dishes with a biscuit base, a really good way of pressing the base down is by using a potato masher, it's a much easy way of achieving a really compact bottom.
(Cake Days - The Hummingbird Bakery)
For the Base:
220g (8oz) digestive biscuits
100g (3.5oz) unsalted butter, melted
For the Topping:
200g (7oz) fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped, plus 100-200g (3.5-7oz) extra
strawberries, cut in half, to decorate
180g (6.5oz) caster sugar
600g (1lb 5oz) full-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs
100g (3.5oz) mascarpone cheese
20g (3/4oz) icing sugar
100ml (3.5fl oz) double cream
one 20cm (8in) diameter spring-form cake tin
- Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Using a food processor with the blade attachment, blitz the biscuits into fine crumbs. Alternatively, place them in a plastic bag, seal and crush with a rolling pin.
- Pour the biscuit crumbs into a bowl, add the melted butter and stir together, then tip into the lined tin and press into the base with the back of a spoon. Place the tin in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow the base to set.
- Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a saucepan with 80g (3oz) of the sugar and 30ml (1fl oz) of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the strawberries are soft and the liquid has reduced by half. Take off the hob and set aside until completely cold.
- Preheat the oven to 160C (320F), Gas Mark 3. Prepare the topping by using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment to beat together the cream cheese and remaining sugar on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl now and then. Tip in the cooked strawberries and stir in by hand, ensuring that they are evenly dispersed.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin - it should be about two-thirds full. Place in a roasting tin (first wrap the cake tin in foil) and fill this with water up to about 5mm (1/4in) from the top of the cake tin. This creates a water bath in which to bake the cheesecake, preventing it from drying out and cracking in the oven.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until firm on top with a very slight wobble in the centre. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature still in the tin, then place in the fridge to chill and set for 1-2 hours.
- Using the electric whisk or freestanding electric mixer, beat the mascarpone and icing sugar on a medium speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until soft peaks form, then fold it into the mascarpone.
- Remove the chilled cheesecake from the fridge and pour the mascarpone cream on top, spreading it evenly. Place back in the fridge for a few hours, or preferably overnight, to set.
- When you are ready to serve, carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and top with fresh strawberry halves.
Thanks for reading,