I'm not good at making food pretty. Actually, I’m not all that interested in making food pretty. I understand why people do it, but I just don't care enough. I'm never going to be one of those people who spends hours draping a cake with fondant. I love the idea of it, but it's soon to be devoured! I want the food to taste good, and at the end of the day, that's what matters, right? Plus, most food is pretty on it's own, I think.
Well, for this months Daring Bakers, my first ever challenge, I decided to give it a go The recipe was cheesecake, I LOVE cheesecake, and think it's pretty great on it's own, but this time I actually put in some effort and tried to decorate it.
We were given a very basic cheesecake recipe and asked to jazz it up a bit. There is this recipe in Baking From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan I’d been wanting to try for a while now, but just hadn’t gotten around to it, so I decided to combine the recipes. I used the gingersnap crust, apple cider, cinnamon and brown sugar from that recipe and added them to the recipe given.
It turned out GREAT. The taste was awesome. My only problem was it had a soggy crust - I’d never done the water bath thing before and I didn’t realize you needed to wrap the bottom of your spring form pan with aluminum foil, I’ll be sure to do that next time.
When it came to decorating, I drew a complete blank. How do you decorate a cheesecake that isn’t fruity or carmel-y or chocolate-y? I couldn’t just throw some berries on top and call it a day.
So I asked on the daring bakers forum and someone mentioned drying some apples in the oven. It was the perfect idea. Sure, it still looks a little “rustic”, but I like it. Plus, the apples tasted really good with the cheesecake, the crunch really added something.
I’m really glad I joined daring bakers, it’s been a ton of fun, and I’ll definitely be making this recipe again.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
Here’s the recipe (with my modifications in ( ))
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake (or Cinnamon-Apple Cider Cheesecake!):
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (ginger snaps)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted (1/2 stick)
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar (light brown sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each, room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar (1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar)
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice (3 tbsp. apple cider)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (2 tsp. vanilla extract)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional (2 tsp ground cinnamon)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . 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.
P.S. Don't forget about my giveaway.