Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge: Cheesecake

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

This month has been a really busy month for me and my family. With a new baby at home I haven't had much time to do a lot of baking. When some of my husband's family were coming over to visit with us I decided to try my challenge for this month.

My father-in-law had an Aunt that would make cheesecake for local restaurants for a living. She would even send him one every year on his birthday as a gift. My husband always compares every cheesecake he tries to hers. Unfortunately she got sick before being able to pass down the recipe to anyone. So we are always in search for something that can compare to hers. So of course I got excited to try out a new recipe and see how it compares. Mike's favorite kind she made was with pineapple on the bottom which is what I tried to do with this one.

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

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.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Review: I am going to start with the bad...well I should say my errors...I used the wrong size springform pan (10") and so my cheesecake was thinner then I expected. I thought I had the right size but then realized I didn't when it was too late. I should have used the casserole pan as suggested because my foil wrapping wasn't the best and some water did leak in which caused my crust to get a little soggy. Other than that everything came out great and the family loved the surprise of pineapple on the bottom. It wasn't like my husband's great-aunt's recipe but was still loved by the family!


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of having a surprise at the bottom. I too had a thinner cheesecake, but the upside is that I could afford to eat 2 pieces instead of 1 :)

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cheesecake looks amazing!! Awesome job on this challenge =D.

Chantal said...

Good job, must have been yummy.

Jenny said...

The thinner cheesecake looks pretty though, so a happy mistake. The pineapple idea is intriguing. Thanks for making the time to make this recipe!

Jenny of JennyBakes


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