Thursday, August 9, 2012

"THE Cheesecake"

This is such good cheesecake. The recipe comes from Cooking Debauchery, and is adapted from Cook's Illustrated, but the write up on it includes a pages long exposition on what is wrong with every other cheesecake in the world, making the recipe nearly impossible to read as it requires way too much scrolling and scanning. Here it is made legible.

  • 4 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup kefir cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • zest of 1 small lemon, finely chopped
  • butter and additional sugar for the pan
  • food processor
  • spatula
  • 9" spring-form pan
  • roughly 18" of 18" wide aluminum foil
  • large roasting pan
  • medium sized pot of boiling water
  • paring or utility knife with a fairly thin blade
1. Preheat oven to 500˚F/260˚C.
2. Place roasting pan in oven and fill with about 1" boiling water.
3. Remove the bottom of the spring-form pan.
4. Wrap foil around the bottom of the botom of the pan such that the completely foiled side is up.
5. Replace the sides of the pan and flatten foil up along the sides to create a water tight seal around the pan.
6. Butter and sugar the inside of the pan.
7. Spread cream cheese and kefir cheese evenly in the food processor and blend briefly.
8. Add sugar and blend.
9. Add eggs and blend until mixture if creamy and consistently mixed.
10. Add vanilla and zest and blend
11. Pour mixture into prepared spring-form pan.
12. Place in roasting pan and pour in additional boiling water if needed. Water should come half-way up the pan.
13. Bake at 500˚F/260˚C for 12 minutes.
14. Reduce heat to 200˚F/93˚C, and open door for a couple of minutes to allow heat to escape.
15. Once heat has gone down, bake without opening the door for 1 hour.
16. Remove pan briefly to run the knife around the edge of the cake to separate it from the wall of the pan. This eliminates cracking on the top of the cake.
17. Bake another 60-75 minutes until the entire cheesecake has a slightly rubbery consistency when shaken.
18. Raise the temperature to 350 and bake until the crust is golden and puffed, about 12 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to over cook it at this point as that will change the texture and mouthfeel of the cheesecake.
19. Remove from oven, pull of sides of pan, and allow to cool to room temperature.
20. Place cheesecake, covered lightly with foil, in fridge and chill overnight.

We'll eat this with chocolate sauce, or blueberries, or sliced strawberries.

Kefir Cheese

This is dead simple if you make your own kefir (which, by the way is pronounced keh-FEER, not KEE-fur, not that I will ever correct you in public, just don't try to correct me).

  • strained milk kefir, any amount under 1/2 gallon
  • large bowl
  • cheesecloth, or clean flour sack kitchen towel
  • string or twine
1. Cover the bowl with the cheesecloth.
2. Pour kefir into the cheesecloth/bowl.
3. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and wrap them together with the string.
4. Tie the end of the string to the door knob of a cabinet door so the entire bundle hangs over the bowl.
5. Strain for 6-12 hours.
6. Remove cheese from the cloth and refrigerate.
7. Save the whey that has collected in the bowl for lacto-fermented recipes, either in the fridge or freezer.

If the kefir has been in the fridge for a few days and is extra sharp I use the resulting cheese for cheesecake.