To mark a sweet beginning for delicious days ahead, it is only apt that I choose Cheesecake to be my first ever blog post!
The first time I ever tasted a classic baked cheesecake was back in Delhi, 10 years ago, at Big Chill Café. Thanks to my friend Shikha, I discovered the lovely Blueberry Cheesecake. It used to be one of their signature desserts, always popular amongst the regulars. Honestly, it was not love at first bite. It was different and certainly delicious. Over the years, I savored many different cheesecakes and just like that, I was in love with cheesecakes.
My sister Cokila, who is not much into desserts, considers cheesecake to be a dessert god of some sort. Her love for cheesecake is at another level. She likes it both chilled and baked; but prefers baked cheesecake to a chilled one. She is not into baking and now with a baby on the way, I do not think she will venture into it for another 6-8 months. She had been asking me to bake one for the last couple of years. But, unfortunately, I could never bake one for her.
She visited us last month and again urged me to bake one for her. And I finally did. I am so glad I did. This cheesecake will forever be a special for more than one reason – Besides being a reason for a happy belly of a mom-to-be, this cheesecake was a blessing, for it gave way to a long awaited accomplishment (I will share it with all of you in posts to come).
Classic baked cheesecake with oreo crust, topped with raspberry compote – that is what I baked for her.
While she was over, we made a trip to Berry’d Alive, Indiranagar. No points for guessing what she ordered. Cheesecake. It was indeed deliciously indulgent and perfect. In her words “one of the best she had ever had”. And I am thinking – how can I possibly top that? Especially, considering I had never baked a cheesecake in my life.
I always used to think cheesecakes (and soufflés) were tricky little devils with their own personalities – not easy to nail. However, after having baked one, I am happy to be have been proven deliciously wrong.
The night before, besides getting all the ingredient ready, as a part of my prep, I also had to get a tried and tested recipe. So, raided my cookbooks and I browsed many a blogs. Finally made my own recipe by scaling it to the amount of ingredients I had.
It had to be topped with some luscious berry compote – Oh how I wish I could get them fresh, but had to settle for the next best thing – frozen, courtesy BigBasket.com! Went there looking for blueberries but could only get raspberries – So raspberry compote it is.
Next morning, the baking begins – I started on Oreo crust , got the cheese batter ready meanwhile. Got the hot water bath (explained in the recipe below) for the cheesecake and it in the oven.
That gave me a good one hour to make my raspberry compote. I had thawed the raspberries earlier that day and they were ready to be turned into this thick syrupy raspberry goodness.
The compote was ready – and my cheesecake was still in the oven, I started to think about how I would style it for the photos.
Styling it right and clicking it beautifully completes my food story. It is as important, if not more, as cooking it right. Food, when photographed beautifully, is feast for the eyes. They are capable of conveying flavours. That is what I try to achieve every time when I capture food through my camera lenses. I know I have a long way to go on my food styling and photography. For now, I’m doing my best with what I know, have learnt watching others and making do with the best possible resources I have.
After one hour in the oven, the cheesecake had to be rested before the compote goes on top. The wait would have absolutely unbearable if wasn’t for lunch plan. Cheesecake had rested enough while we were out for lunch. We decided to go easy on dessert there because we knew what was waiting for us at home.
But there was one more thing to be done before we could dig into that sweet heaven. The shoot.
This shoot was different and special –Cokila volunteered to help me photograph the cheesecake. And, the pictures speak for themselves. She made them look absolutely gorgeous.
My youngest sister Swati, was almost losing her patience watching us shoot. She just stood there with a fork and plate, waiting for us to finish, so she could grab her slice. The moment we put our cameras down, both Swati & the slice were gone.
And, Cokila finally sat down with her slice. She took a mouthful, looked at me and smiled. I could tell she was happy. She said she loved it. It was like the best feeling ever.
It was nothing short of a triumphant moment for me. I baked a cheesecake, and it was a winner.
The cheesecake had the most perfectly silky creamy texture supported by the oreo crust (would have loved the crust to be slightly more granular – for a contrasting texture but the texture it chose for itself was just fine). Absolutely loved the delicious histogram sort of pattern made by the crust. Beautiful surprise. And finally the compote, the sweet sour berries sitting in the thick syrup – slowly flowing down as we cut each slice…was not only delightful to look at but also the perfect compliment for the cheesecake.
I was content.
For the crust:
1 packet of Oreo cookies (ground / crushed)
2-3 tspn of melted unsalted butter
Sugar (optional) – I didn’t put in mine.
For the raspberry compote:
200 gms of fresh / frozen raspberries
2-3 tspn of castor sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tspn of butter
For the cheesecake batter:
1 tub of creamcheese ( about 200 grams) at room temperature
½ cup castor sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature
200 grams fresh cream
2 tspn yogurt / sour cream
Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 200°, line the springform pan with parchment paper, and set aside.
- For the crust, stir together the melted butter into the ground oreo crumbs. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake for about 10-12 minutes so it sets. Let it cool for a few minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, tip in the cream cheese and spoon in all the other ingredients and gently whisk them well.
- Pour cream cheese filling into the rested baked oreo crust.
- Meanwhile, have some hot water ready- because cheesecakes bake well with a hot water bath. For a hot water bath – Use a deep dish cake pan – something that is bigger that the springform pan used for the cheesecake. Place the pan with cheesecake batter in the center and fill the bigger pan with the hot water – so that the water comes up to ¾th of the springform pan. ( Tip- It might be a good idea to place the pan in the oven and then pour water – easier to handle)
- Bake it at 180° for about hour in the oven and or you may be check for the doneness after 45 minutes.
- For the raspberry compote, heat a sauce pan – throw in the butter, the berries, sugar and vanilla. Bring it to a gentle simmer, let it bubble a little. Take it off the heat when the sauce thickens to your desired consistency. (Make sure you don’t overcook the berries – you want the berries to retain their shapes and not become all mush). Keep it aside for the cheesecake.
- Remove it from the water bath and let it cool, before you top it with the compote. You may even garnish with a sprig of mint, if you like and serve chilled.