One of my biggest baking pleasures is cheesecake. I love experimenting with different recipes and bases, and it’s one of those things that is fairly easy to get right. Also, there’s none of that pressure of making it looking amazing – it’s not like cupcakes that depend so much on looks and decorations (I’m rather inept with icing).
I’m not going to kid myself and say that cheesecake is as healthy as a plate of veggies, but it has a good amount of calcium so it’s not all empty calories. A slice of cheesecake gives you around one of your recommended three daily portions of dairy a day.
You probably know that calcium, found in dairy, is a necessary mineral to help build strong bones. Dairy also contains other important nutrients for bone health, such as protein, phosphorus and magnesium. Calcium also enables our blood to clot, muscles to contract, and heart to beat.
Without sufficient calcium, you’re at risk of osteoporosis, which is more common in women. This condition causes bones to weaken and prone to breaking. This is why calcium and vitamin D (from exposure to the sun) are a must-have in your daily diet. Which is where this treat cheesecake comes in.
It’s adapted from Ruth Reichl’s New York cheesecake, and it’s likely the only cheesecake you’ll ever need or want. It’s a classic, and one I always turn to when I need a basic cheesecake that’s simply stellar.
(PS: Ruth Reichl is a food writer and former restaurant critic at the New York Times. She wrote a great book called Garlic and Sapphires about her time as a food critic, and how she used to disguise herself so that she wouldn’t be recognised in the restaurants she was visiting and reviewing).
- 1 packet Tennis biscuits or Romany Creams (I like using Romany Creams in the mint or coffee flavour
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 700g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- grated zest of one lemon
- 2 cups sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Process the biscuits with the melted butter and press into bottom and sides of a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Chill while preparing filling.
- Beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and lemon zest until smooth. Pour into the chilled crust and bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until the cheese is set and starting to turn golden in spots.
- Remove from the oven (leave oven on) and cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.
- Stir together the sour cream, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, remaining teaspoon of vanilla and spread over cooled cake.
- Return to the oven for 12 minutes until glossy and set. Cool completely, cover and chill at least 8 hours. Serves 12.
PS: A serving of cheese cake is a treat and not part of your daily diet – perhaps once every week or every two weeks.
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