Ooooo, it feels good to be writing a blog post. I've been wanting to make and write about these for a few days now but what with being back at uni (I know, I keep harping on about that) I have to at least make an attempt to do some work before I do the fun stuff. Sneaking a peak and Pinterest and other blog posts is easy to
distract myself with fit around my work but the actual experimental baking and blogging requires a little more time devoted to it. Because I seem physically unable to bake something that I've done before so I know works and can be done quickly. One day I'll learn. One day. Possibly. Maybe. At some point so far over the horizon time travel will be invented first.
This week on placement I've been preparing melon mush to work on. I get the feeling the other people I know who are on placement at uni have been laughing at me slightly because they are using a few more lab skills than me, making sparkly complexes that could be used in all sorts of important situations once developed and perfected. My work doesn't sound as important but it is. And it's what I want to do. So there. Plus my project is edible. Well, not anymore. You'd get slightly ill if you tried eating it now it's been soaked in acetone. I'm not really sure how much I'm allowed to tell you about it so I'll just tell you about my lab then get on with the cheesecake story. I'm in a temporary lab at the moment because there is a lot of building work going on. It's a bit frustrating because we don't have access to half of the equipment we need so it's been a somewhat interesting week. Fingers crossed I should be moving into my proper lab next week though. I got to nip in yesterday because the powers that be decided it was ok for us to go in just to use the oven that we desperately needed. It's a much nicer lab and looks a whole lot cleaner thought I suppose it won't stay like that when there are several people from the research group working in it at once. Whatever happens it looks a lot nicer plus it is right behind the lab my housemate Lauren will be in some of the time so we can wave at each other through the windows. Like you do.
Onto a different lab now - the kitchen! For quite some time now I've been wanting to make a baked cheesecake and then one using quark cheese. If anyone hasn't heard of quark cheese, it's this really low fat stuff that can be used as an alternative to cream cheese in cheesecakes. It has similarities to curd and cottage cheeses and fromage frais but it isn't something I'd eat on it's own or in a sandwich because it's too tangy for my tastes. I wondered how this would translate into a cheesecake but I thought it turned out really well. The raw mixture tasted really sweet and creamy as did the cooked and slightly warm stuff. (I know you're supposed to chill baked cheesecakes before eating but I couldn't wait! The longing was too strong. So hang me.) I've just eaten one of the cupcake versions I did which has been in the fridge overnight and that did have a bit of a tang yet I thought it was still delicious and complemented the remaining hint of cream really well. I'm really grateful to Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes for their Alphabakes challenge this month whcih requires a bake with a name or ingredient that starts with the letter Q because it meant I got to try several new things which I can now tick off my baking ambitions list. Caroline is hosting the challenge this month but I thing you should pop over to both their blogs to say hi because they're both brilliant. (And if you like baking challenges, have a look at my Biscuit Barrel Challenge here.)
Originally I was planning on sharing these Bakewell Cheesecakes with another challenge because I started off doing them in a cupcake format. However, seeing as ths was a made up recipe, and I kept eating the ingredients, I didn't know how many I was going to make so I ended up making a couple of ramekin sized ones as well. These worked out much better I thought so I'll give the recipe for those and go with my other plans for this months Calendar Cakes. No worries.
I wish I could tell you that these turned out 100% perfect but that would be a lie yet I'm still happy to tell you all about the joys and not so much joys because this blog is all about my baking adventures. I read so many blogs where the writers have retested recipes until they are perfect but that isn't me. I like to try one thing out after another and I don't see what's wrong with that. I'm not a professional baker, just someone who enjoys it so much and enjoys eating the results even more. Some of my things do turn out perfectly, others not so much but I can usually find something good about them and that is defintiely the case with these Bakewell Cheesecakes. I gave them a sort of GBBO style appraisal so I could improve next time because there will definitley be a next time. First description. From the bottom, there is your typical biscuit crumb and butter base. Does anyone else have a problem where they think this mixture is nicer than the original biscuit and has to keep tyring a spoonful or six? Next is a layer of strawberry jam. I had a mini pot of M&S strawberry conserve which is my favourite shop bought jam though it still doesn't beat my own which you can give your verdict on here. I couldn't use my own jam because it is all at home and through a series of extremely annoying events I couldn't bring some to the uni house with me. I'll explain later because this post is stretching on and on as it is. Only some of the cheesecakes ended up with jam because there was only a little bit but oh well. On top of that goodness is a laer of franginpane. I wasn't sure if the cheesecake layer would mix into it but I wasn't bothered if it did. In the end it did a little but I think that was more because of my spreading out. I wanted to eat these and soon, not get an A***+++ on my presentation skills. If anything, it added interest! Finally there was the quark cheesecake layer. I went for a vanilla flavouring because I thought that would be best in keeping with the Bakewell theme. I was pretending in was almond extract ok?!
On it's own everything was good. Combined it was oh so good. I want another right now. And why not? Quark is something like 0.2g of fat per 100g so if you ignore the other layers you are practically eating air! Try it. Give me your opinion. Here's the recipe and I'll pop the notes on the improvements made at the bottom because I think I've yacked for long enough without giving you some reward.
Mini Bakewell Cheesecakes
The combination of all things good - buttery biscuti crumbs, glorious jam, frangipane and virtuous cheesecake. Makes 6 depending on your ramekin size.
- 100g rich tea biscuits or digestives
- A few spoonfuls of strawberry jam
- 1 large egg
- 55g softened butter
- 55g caster sugar
- 55g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g quark cheese
- 21g softened butter
- 55g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- A few flaked almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 170 C/150 C fan. First crush your biscuits into crumbs by whichever method you find easiest. Divide them between your ramekins.2. Carefully drop small blobs of jam onto the biscuit crumbs. Use quite a soft jam to make it easier. 3. Mix the frangipane ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined then divide between the ramekins.4. Pour away the liquidy bit on top of the quark then blend well well with the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg and extract then divide between the ramekins.5. Pop the ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins sprinkling on flaked almonds half way through, adjusting times and temperatures according to your oven. When done the cheesecake bit will be set round the edges and wobbly in the ccentre. Cool on a wire rack then chill in the fridge overnight. If you can last that long.
- Originally I used butter to bind the biscuit crumbs but decided the oils from the ground almonds is enough to moisten them. The ramekins contian the crumbs anyway so it doesn't matter if they are a bit loose.
- Make sure the butter for the cheesecake layer is very soft otherwise it won't mix into the quark properly and you will be pushing the mixture through the sieve to remove the butter bits like I had to. What a waste of lovely mixture.
- Try to avoid the cheesecakes getting too hot by monitoring them regularly. Getting the mixture too hot will result in cracked tops and possible curdling spoiling the smooth texture sought after by cooks everywhere.
- The cheesecake layer was based on this recipe here.