Baked Berry Cheesecake

8 Dec

Last weekend, The Husband and I had ten people over for dinner as a last hurrah for our house sitting stint at my dad’s place. We got everyone to bring a dish with them for dinner – a sort of potluck arrangement – and we were in charge of dessert. Two nights earlier we’d watched a rerun of an episode from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen series and The Husband (being completely smitten with Nigella, obviously) set his heart on us making her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake.

It was all settled (and I’m still not totally sure how it happened) but at some point while we were writing up our shopping list for the ingredients, The Husband’s casual suggestion of ‘hey, how awesome would it be if we made TWO cheesecakes?’ suddenly became the plan of action.

I didn’t really fancy making two of the same (because that would make my life far too easy, right?), so I decided to wing it and just make up my own baked cheesecake featuring berries…pretty much because we had strawberries in the fridge and frozen raspberries in the freezer.

And that, my friends, is how we ended up with two baked cheesecakes hurriedly prepared in the space of one afternoon.

The Nigella Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake can be found here, but here is the lovely new…

BAKED BERRY CHEESECAKE

200g Digestive biscuits (though similar plain biscuits would do)

150g butter, melted

375g cream cheese

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 tablespoons plain flour

200ml sour cream

1/2 cup roughly chopped strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3) and line a 20cm (8 inch) round springform pan with greaseproof baking paper.

Place Digestive biscuits in the food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process again until well combined. The biscuit mixture should feel slightly damp and should press together and hold easily when pressed down with your fingertips. If it appears too dry, add a little more butter (20g at a time) until it reaches the desired consistency. Pour the biscuit mixture into the lined pan and press down firmly with your fingertips, spreading the mixture to cover the base of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer to combine. Beat in the flour and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream until just combined.

Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the strawberries and 2/3 of the frozen raspberries into the batter.

Pour the batter over the base and then gently drop the remaining frozen raspberries evenly over the surface of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes (though start checking after 40). The cheesecake is ready when the top is firm and there is a slight wobble in the middle of the cake.

Technically, you ought to let it cool in the oven with the door left ajar for an hour or so to prevent the top from cracking, and then transfer it to the fridge to finishing cooling. Honestly, though, I was in such a rush to get this finished (I pulled it out of the oven ten minutes before our friends arrived) that I let it cool for 20 minutes out of the oven before chucking it in the fridge to get cold. The top cracked (unsurprisingly!), but really…who cares? It tasted absolutely gorgeous, and I’m happy enough with that!

I must apologise for my dodgy photography – it was hard enough to snap a picture before it was devoured completely! You get the idea, though.

Let’s face it; this is by no means the most aesthetically pleasing cheesecake in the world. The top is cracked and the colour could certainly be more vibrant…but honestly? The flavour is ridiculously gorgeous, so it’s easy to overlook the outward imperfections.

The rich, buttery base is beautifully complemented by the smooth, creamy filling studded with sweet strawberries and the slight sharpness of the raspberries. This is the perfect summer dessert – deliciously decadent while still having a fruity kick. Though realistically, is there ever a bad time of year for cheesecake? I think not…

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