Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Baker: Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This is my first Daring Baker Challenge. I am very excited about it. Luckily it is something Hubbs is actually willing to eat, or at least try. I happen to LOVE cheesecake as well.

I had lots of fun with this one, and one TERRIBLE accident.

I started by making the crust.

Then I began to make the actual Cheesecake.

I then filled the pan
It was at this point that things went a little wonky! I am not exactly sure how it happened, but one moment I was taking the above picture and the next I was fishing the camera out of the camera out of the pan. I really have no idea how it happened. But it kinda threw my groove off. Luckily the camera stilled worked after I cleaned it up a bit. (by worked I mean it turned on and took pictures. It took about 2-3 days for the lens to open and close properly and I had to clean the lens every time I wanted to use the camera, and by cleaning a bit I mean I took a break from Cheesecake for about 20 min trying to figure out how to get the white creamy goopy goodness out of every crack and crevice on the camera)

Because of the camera mishaps I stopped all photo taking until the cake was done, SO sorry I do not have pictures of the next little bit.

I decided not to do a water bath because I knew water would leak into my springform pan. So I decided to try a couple of different things. I found many places online that talked about using a steam bath instead of a water bath with cheesecake. SO I went with that option, but I also added my own idea. I have some baking strips from my cake decorating days. I know they are meant to help cakes to come out even and prevent cracking. The water bath is to help cheesecake from cracking. I gave it a try. It worked.

I thought the camera had a hard enough day, so i gave it a rest and took pictures the next day. Here they are.
We really liked it.

The Recipe in case you want it!
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.


  1. Welcome to Daring Bakers. Hahaha, what an unbelievable story about your camera! Glad you still got some photos.

  2. Cheesecake with Camera Essence, eh? I don't think I would've gone that route, but it looks wonderful! ;)

  3. Glad your camera is okay! Great cheesecake!

  4. This sounds and looks so yummy. Your serving suggestion (strawberry fan) is perfect for this time of year. Thanks, Luna!

    and .... glad your camera is working ... am looking forward to your next baking event ... with pics ... :-D

  5. The cheesecake looks great! The Daring Bakers is fun, huh? I love it!

    The May challenge has been posted. Be sure to check it out. I am getting creative this time!

  6. The cheesecake looks beautiful. I hope the camera survives... Thanks for being a part of the April Daring Baker's Challenge!

    Jenny of JennyBakes