How to make a great baked cheesecake? Don’t overcook it

The red berry glaze gives an impressive finish and covers over any cracks

Baked cheesecake with red berry glaze. Photograph: Harry Weir

Baked cheesecake with red berry glaze. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

Lots of big brand celebrity food events take place in our cookery school. Over the years I have seen the creation of impressive food concepts. One of my favourite events was a retro afternoon tea party in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland. The sponsor transformed the cookery school into a plush tearoom bedecked with vintage china, porcelain cake stands and gilded chairs. Mothers and daughters (and some sons in tow) were invited to hone their baking skills, then enjoy a retro tea party against a soundtrack of swing and jazz.

Another novel afternoon tea experience has hit the Dublin scene. Vintage Tea Tours is a company offering a bus tour of Dublin. You can book online and choose between a traditional, gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan assortment of sweet delicacies. I simply can’t wait to try it. It might just be the best gift idea for Mother’s Day next weekend – well for me anyway (hint, hint).

Alternatively, this pretty cheesecake would make an extra-special dessert to celebrate Mother’s Day. While giving an impressive finish, the red berry glaze is also a wonderful way to cover up any cracks (if they occur, and they can happen to anyone).

To avoid cracks in a cheesecake, the most important thing is to avoid suddenly moving it from a hot oven to a cold place too suddenly. For the perfect, smooth and light cheesecake centre, avoid overcooking.

For those who might be put off making this at the thought of fiddling around with gelatine, simply serve the berry coulis (minus the gelatine) as an accompaniment to the cheesecake.

Decorate as you wish, perhaps with fresh berries and mint leaves.

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Variation Vary this cheesecake by adding 75g fresh berries to the mixture before baking.

BAKED CHEESECAKE WITH RED BERRY GLAZE

Makes a 20cm round cheesecake

Ingredients
150g digestive biscuits
75g butter, melted
400g full-fat cream cheese
150g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1.5tbs lemon juice

For the red berry glaze
2 leaves gelatine (10cm x 8cm size)
200g frozen mixed red berries
4tbs water
60g sugar
1tsp lemon juice, to taste


Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees conventional oven. You will need a well-greased 20cm round springform tin (or loose-bottom cake tin). If your tin is loose fitting, lining it will help prevent any leakages.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs, then stir in the melted butter until thoroughly moistened. Firmly press the biscuit crumb into the base of a well-greased 20cm tin until tightly packed and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk the cream cheese with the sugar. Next add in the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until fully combined and a smooth creamy consistency (don’t over-whisk).

Pour the cheesecake filling on to the chilled biscuit base. Place the filled cheesecake on a baking sheet, transfer to the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. The cheesecake should still wobble slightly in the centre, in which case turn the oven off while leaving the cheesecake to cool inside the oven for at least an hour. However, if your cheesecake is already set in the centre, remove it from the heat of the oven, keeping it at room temperature to cool down completely. Once set, run a thin knife around the inner edge of the tin. Refrigerate to chill completely.

To make the red berry glaze: place gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. Combine the frozen red berries, water, and sugar together in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat for five minutes. Remove from the heat and use a sieve to catch and discard any seeds while you collect a smooth purée (coulis). Adjust the sweetness with a dash of lemon juice. Reheat the coulis to just below boiling point. Remove the gelatine leaves from the water, squeezing out any excess moisture and quickly whisk the gelatine into the hot coulis, set aside for three minutes, to cool slightly.

Next pour a third of the glaze over the top of the chilled cheesecake and use the back of a spoon to gently spread the glaze from the centre, teasing it towards the edges of the circle, repeating until all the glaze is added (the viscosity of the glaze increases as it cools, which is why the glaze is applied in three parts to form an even, jelly-like layer).

When ready to serve, carefully release the cheesecake from the tin (if you haven’t already done so). Transfer the finished cheesecake to a serving plate.

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