Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers April Challenge: Cheesecake!

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

I love cheesecake! I've made it before, but always the baked in a pie pan shortcut version. I love that cheesecake, too. But the Daring Bakers never do anything the short-cut way. This was the bake-in-a-springform pan with a water bath, honest-to-god cheesecake. We had to follow the recipe for the cake, but we could add our own touch with the flavorings in the cake and with the topping.

I wanted to take it as a dessert for my friends in my garden club this past weekend, and I wanted the dessert to have a fresh spring flavor, so I made a blueberry/orange sauce and added orange liqueur to the cake as a flavoring. The result was yummy and light for a cheesecake. My friends said I would have won the prize for best dessert-- if there was a prize.

Here is the recipe:

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:


2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract


3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

1 cup / 210 g sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (I used Triple Sec)


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

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the 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.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. 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.

Blueberry/Orange Sauce

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups water

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2T Triple Sec (or Grand Marnier)

1 Tbsp orange zest

2 cups blueberries, washed and checked for stems

1 1/2 Tbsp butter (optional)


1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, water, orange juice, liqueur and zest. Cook, stirring often, until thickened (about 5 minutes).

2. Stir in the blueberries and cook mixture until the berries burst, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and add the butter if using. Let cool, then spread over the cheesecake, or serve as a sauce on the side.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April

Well, it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs all day at my place. So no photos of beautiful flowers today. Maybe I'll do Garden Bloggers Bloom Day Plus One, or Two.

We bought all the equipment today that we'll need for the little chickies next month. A waterer, feeder, light and bulb, thermometer, wood shavings, and chick mash. They had some day-old chicks at the farm store-- cute, cute, cute! Little yellow balls of fluff, tumbling all over each other, eating and drinking and pooping-- basically doing the things that chicks do. Made me look forward to the day when I'll have my own little gals.