My lovely friend Sal’s even lovelier mum recently asked me to help cater for a party she was having. One of the desserts she asked for was a strawberry cheesecake so I adapted a Donna Hay recipe featured in her wonderful book Modern Classics Book 2.
The original recipe is for a blueberry swirl cheesecake so if you wanted to make this recipe you can of course change the strawberries to blueberries or indeed, raspberries and it would work just as well.
For the base
250g / 8.8oz digestive biscuits (or Graham crackers if you’re in the States)
100g / 3.5oz unsalted butter, melted
For the fruit purée
200g / 7oz fresh or frozen berries, thawed
3tbsp granulated sugar
For the filling
500g / 17.6oz cream cheese
185g / 6.5ozcaster sugar
2 whole eggs
2 eggs, separated
100ml / 3.4 fl oz sour cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp finely grated lemon zest
2tsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 170C (conventional),150C (fan), 325F, gas mark 3. Grease a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until crushed. Add the butter and process until it just clumps together.
Press the crumb mixture into the base of the tin and two-thirds of the way up the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Purée the berries and sugar in a food processor or blender and then pass through a sieve. Simmer in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar for about 6 minutes or until thickened slightly. Set aside to cool.
Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar until creamy and well combined.
Add the whole eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Using a clean whisk and a seperate clean bowl, beat the egg whites for 3-4 minutes, or until firm but soft peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cheesecake base and smooth the top.
Drizzle with the berry purée and then use the blade of a knife to swirl the purée.
Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, until its set but still wobbly in the centre. If its really wobbly, keep it in the oven for anther 10/15 minutes, keeping an eye on it. The cheesecake will rise slightly in the oven but it will fall again once its cooled.
I have never made this cheesecake before without getting cracks in it so I decided to cook it in a water bath. I’d heard it stops cracks. If doing a water bath, wrap the baking tin with tin foil (to avoid leaking) and place the baking tin inside a large, roasting tin and transfer to the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting tin so the water reaches halfway up the sides of cake tin.
Now, as you can see, mine still cracked. So annoying. I did everything I was supposed to do to prevent it…I didn’t overbeat the mixture, I baked it in a water bath, I left it in the oven with the door ajar to cool down, I covered it with cling film and put it in the fridge afterwards. I ended up making 3 cheesecakes (hence why the one below doesn’t match the pattern of the photo above, I forgot to take a before shot of the one below) and each one of them cracked. I have decided to find it charming! At the end of the day, the flavour is still there, it doesn’t really matter if there are cracks in it.
If you want to cover the cracks, you could top the cheesecake with strawberries/blueberries/raspberries and dust with icing sugar. But I really don’t think its a big deal anyway.
You should end up with an incredibly light, creamy, smooth cheesecake, with the taste of vanilla and fresh lemon in the background. It really is delicious.
If you do try to make this yourself, please let me know if you manage to make it without it cracking!