27 April 2009

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Centrepiece

• Recipe's origins: Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
• Recipe's orginator: Abbey T.

• Our hostess:
Jenny of Jenny Bakes

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

One of the lovely things about being a Daring Baker is I normally have at least one "real" reason to bake. It could be a friend's birthday or a fancy dinner party. This month is was my work anniversary.

Eight years. Good gravy.

I've developed a bit of a reputation of bringing in foods people would actually eat. Funny how there's a correlation between edibility and (as I deem it) "real" cooking/baking--as opposed to boxed cake mixes and Timbits from our office Timmy's. I don't know if this is the norm for the rest of you, but in our office, if it's your day you have to bring in the treats.

Totally unfair.

When I found out this month's challenge was cheesecake, I knew it would do well. When I found out we could play with the flavours I was torn. Do I do something "normal" -- fruity or boozey -- or do I do something that's a bit beyond normal?

Why be normal? It is my day after all, is it not?

After some thought and a bit of a consult with a colleague who's got a fairly good palate, I decided upon vanilla-lavender.

A bit daring, given many people don't think of lavender as a flavour, or if they do their only exposure was
Thrills (aka: the gum that tastes like soap...and yes...I know it's supposed to taste like rose, but all the ones I had tasted like lavender) and they'd run screaming.

The cheesecake itself was easy to put together, but I felt some of the weight measurements were a titch off--for example, I thought the crust was far too oily so I added a couple of handfuls extra graham wafer crumbs, which helped to build "walls" of crust. The cheesecake itself was 2/3 vanilla and 1/3 lavender and I decided to not do a topping because I didn't want to overwhelm the delicate flavours. The flowers didn't impart much colour, so I added some hydrangea food colouring.

I've made many, many cheesecakes and most haven't cracked. I don't do a water bath normally--the one time I did it, it was...bad and it cracke. I didn't go back. But this challenge involved a water bath and well...I had do it. I swaddled the pan in tin foil, put it in my lasagne dish and poured in the boiling water. And hoped for a good result.

I am quite happy to say that the cheesecake turned out lovely. It was creamy and light and the flavour was so very, very good. Well...it must have been good. It disappeared within 40 minutes.

Here's the recipe, as I prepared it
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
225g graham cracker crumbs
125ml melted butter
25g sugar

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

Mix together the crust ingredients and press into a high-sided 20cm (8") springform pan. Press the crust just into the bottom and up the sides of the pan too. Set crust aside.

750g softened cream cheese, divided
210g sugar, divided
3 large eggs, divided
250 heavy cream, divided
1 tbsp. lemon juice, divided
1dpsn (10ml) vanilla bean paste
1tsp lavender buds

Cream together 500g cream cheese and 140g sugar until smooth. Add two of the eggs, one of a time, scraping down the bowl in between each addition. Add 160 ml heavy cream, vanilla and 1 dspn lemon juice, and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Steep the lavender buds with the remaining 90ml cream for five minutes. Decant the to a bowl, keeping the buds in the cream for another five minutes; strain out the buds (or you can do what I did and put the buds in a tea ball at the very beginning...much easier). Set aside.

Cream together 250g cream cheese and 70g sugar until smooth. Add the remaining egg and scrape down the bowl's sides. Blend in the lavender-flavoured cream and 1tsp lemon juice.

Pour the vanilla batter in the prepared crust and then dollop in the lavender batter. Take a skewer or a teaspoon's handle and swirl together the two batters. Tap the filled 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.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until the sides are set but the centre is very jiggly. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. 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.

To see what the other Daring Bakers did, please visit our


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Sugar Daze said...

Gorgeous color -- love the result. Must have been great with the slight lavender taste!

Elissa said...

Vanilla and lavender is such an elegant combination. This cheesecake sounds beautiful, and I'm sure it tasted great too! :)

Rachel said...

Looks very delicate.

Mickle in NZ said...

Daring Bakers - Jasmine, you are a Darling Baker.

I kept my mouth firmly shut while reading this post - so I wouldn't drool all over the laptop.

Guess you're over that super nasty cold/flu that lingered for way tooooo long.

Such beautiful flavours you've put together in your incredible Cheese Cake - super well done. I sincerely hope you got a slice for yourself.

love to Jasmine and your dear kittycats from Michelle/Mickle and Zebbycat, the daft. xxxx and much purrummmbling.

marye said...

It looks fabulous! I wondered about the lavender....

Dewi said...

This must have been very fragrant and delicious cheesecake. Good choice of flavoring using lavender.

breadchick said...

I LOVE the taste of lavender and this would definitely win favour on any day with me!

NKP said...

Vanilla and lavender sound great to me!
And gone in 40 minutes? We have a winner!

creampuff said...

Actually, now that you mention it, the crust was a bit on the buttery side (not as crisp as it might of been). Good point! Love the combo you used!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Jasmine I would love to try lavender! I've only had lavender a very few times but I've always been surprised and loved it.

Molly Loves Paris said...

Lavender That's a very intriguing idea. I love the blue color.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

i love the flavors you've used! wonderful!

i am storm. said...

my mouth is watering...it is 11:49 pm, but i feel the overwhelming need to make a cheesecake....where can i get lavendar at this time of night???


Jenny said...

That is an interesting color for cheesecake.
I never knew Thrills were supposed to taste like a flower, I just tasted soap. What you learn!

Lori said...

This is a unique cake. I always worry about adding lavendar because of the soap thing. Looks like yours was a big hit!

Unknown said...

It looks beautiful, almost other-worldly with the color. Thanks for being a part of the April Daring Baker's Challenge!

Jenny of JennyBakes

Jenny Tan said...

I love your combination of vanilla and lavender! :)