Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bloomin' easy vanilla cheesecake

Everyone likes cheesecake - don't they? The assumption that cheesecake enjoys pretty universal popularity led me to decide to make this for our visitors the other night to follow the lamb, bread and salad. I liked the simplicity of the recipe - lots of cheesecakes now are gimmicky, which is not to say they aren't good, but after a rustic Italian-esque lamb dinner I really wanted the equivalent sort of pudding - tasty, pleasing but not too difficult to produce. There is nothing worse than a host who has prepared something ridiculously over-elaborate, sort of Heston Blumenthal-esque, totally out of synch with the context of a kitchen supper, and hovers anxiously while the guests feel pressurized into fulsome and exaggerated praise. As someone who over-invests in cooking, I need to beware of placing that kind of burden on my guests - luckily, Jamie's food seems to be perfect for the kinds of social occasion I like best.

The cheesecake, then, is a simple vanilla cheesecake, with a digestive-biscuit base and a topping made from full fat cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, orange and lemon zest, sugar, and cornflour. The base is cooked briefly and cooled; when the topping is added, the cake is baked for 45 minutes or so until golden brown and set. I made the cake some hours before we were going to eat it and kept it in our porch, which isn't insulated and is like a hot-house in the summer and almost fridge-cold in autumn, before becoming more like a freezer in winter - yes, I know, we need to sort that out, but it's one of those things that you say you will do and then forget about. Anyway, before we ate the cake, I made the cherry compote that Jamie suggests to go with it: that is, simmered cherries and sugar with an optional splash of port or whisky (I sloshed some whisky in). When the compote had cooled I served the cake and a generous dollop of compote. Unfortunately, after a fair amount of champagne and red wine, I forgot about taking a photograph (actually I also find it odd to imagine taking pictures of food while guests are there. It must make me look completely batty and I am honestly not) and had to take a photo of the remaining cake the following day.

Mmm. The picture doesn't really do it justice; it was delicious. You could really taste the vanilla and there were strong hints of lemon and orange. This cake is dangerous because it seems really light and more-ish; it is incredibly easy to eat and has a lovely flavour. So, I should add, did the cherry compote, which is a fantastic accompaniment... but as someone who had a sneaky second slice yesterday, I should say that this cake works well on its own too. Mmm.


Simon said...

...and I forgot to take a picture of this scrummy cheesecake after a fair quantity of champage, Peroni and red wine LOL!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, cheesecake, one of my favorite food groups! :) Looks delicious and I like that you can taste the vanilla and citrus in there. :)
I know what you mean about taking pictures in front of guests. My friends accept it but my family think I'm insane. So on Thanksgiving, I think I will need to hide in the kitchen to get all the pictures taken. ;)