Monday, March 13, 2006

A Delicious Exercise

Last weekend, I wanted a cheesecake--a strawberry cheesecake. I had a craving. I've never made one before, but it seemed easy enough. Flora's Recipe Hideout has tons of cheesecake recipes so I looked through to find a good one. I picked what seemed to be the average cheesecake recipe and modified it a bit. Scrawled list in hand, I got my ingredients from the store. When I got home, Q was baking. I chose to rest on my laurels for a bit...

By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was jonesing. I wanted the cheesecake. That morning, I shared my plans with Nemili and she was gung-ho. So we immediately began our cheesecake odyssey.

I had bought a ready-made graham cracker crust from the store. We prepared the crust following the directions. Then we (that is, Nemili) mixed all the ingredients for the filling together. I wanted a strawberry flavor in the filling, so we put a few good dollops of jam in there. Then we put the filling in the crust and slid it into the oven.

A few notes on the result:

  • The recipe made a little bit too much filling for our pie crust.

  • The outer edges of the cheesecake rose in the oven. They settled while cooling, but there was an unsightly crack on the top of the cake.

  • The center cooked much more slowly than the rest. After 40 minutes, we turned up the heat to 350°F for 8 more minutes. Only then did the center appear somewhat set.

  • When we removed the cheesecake from the oven, the center still wasn't as firm as I would have expected. The cake firms a great deal while cooling.

  • The top of the cake gathered a rich golden color along the outer edges, but the strawberry filling gave the innards a pinkish hue. The two did not mix well.

  • The filling's consistency didn't seem quite right. I'm not sure what I mean by this...

All in all, it seems like the baking parameters could be usefully tweaked. (Maybe I should try baking it for longer at a slightly lower temperature?) With that in mind, here's the recipe:

  • 1 store-bought pie crust

  • 6 strawberries

  • 1 egg white

  • 4 eggs

  • 1t vanilla

  • 1c sugar

  • 1c heavy cream

  • 2T flour

  • 6T strawberry jam

  • 16oz cream cheese

Prepare pie crust with an egg white wash and a quick toast in the oven for a nice golden color. Mix the flour, sugar, and heavy cream. Soften the cream cheese and mix it in thoroughly. Beat the eggs separately and add them to the mixture. Also add the vanilla and about 4T of the jam to the mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the shell. Bake at 325°F for 40 minutes or until center firms up. Cool at room temperature for an hour and then in the refrigerator for 6 hours. Decorate with remaining jam and halved strawberries.

Don't get me wrong. The complaints are mainly for self-improvement. It was a great cheesecake. A wonderful cheesecake. It was so good and rich... You have no idea. It was that good!

Bert and Elizabeth had me to dinner at their place on Wednesday. (We've done this before, as you know.) I took half the cheesecake over there. It was perfect timing. Bert didn't partake of course, but Elizabeth had some.

Everyone loved the cheesecake. Elizabeth enjoyed the cake. Q and Karolina seemed to enjoy it. Q said he'll have to buy the ingredients for me to make it again, and watch so he can do it. M thought it was store-bought it was so good...