These lemon cheesecake bars are a little slice of sunshine
A baked cheesecake has a more decadent and fluffy texture than its unbaked counterpart
These lemon cheesecake bars are creamy and fluffy, with the addition of the sharp citrus notes. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
I adore baked cheesecake. I went through a phase years ago of baking it incessantly, using the excuse that I was testing it and I had to get it just right. A baked cheesecake slightly coats the mouth, and has a more decadent and fluffy texture than its smooth unbaked counterpart.
When the dreary grey skies start to appear, we all need a little something to pep us up. These lemon cheesecake bars are a little slice of sunshine, creamy and fluffy, with the addition of the sharp citrus notes making them particularly lip-puckering.
A baked cheesecake is usually cooked in a bain-marie; a baking tin placed in a larger tin with the addition of boiling water. This water bath allows the cheesecake to cook evenly and is a crucial step.
I love baking this dish in a square baking tin as opposed to a standard round tin. As it comes out of the oven it should wobble slightly; it will thicken and firm up nicely as it cools. Once the cheesecake is cooled and set, it is cut into individual little bars and drizzled with cool, tangy lemon curd.
Here I’ve used ginger biscuits as the base, to give a lovely warm hum, a slight nod to the change of seasons. Ginger and lemon are a wonderful pair. However, if you’re not a fan of ginger, feel free to swap it out for a plainer biscuit.
This cheesecake is best made a day or two before you would like to serve it
I have also included a recipe for quick lemon curd, but this is also optional and the cheesecake will still taste fantastic if you leave it out. Or you can opt for a good quality store-bought curd if you prefer. The recipe for the lemon curd makes more than you will need, but it is a shame to make such a small quantity as it’s a gorgeous preserve to have in the fridge and is particularly lovely with pancakes or scones.
This cheesecake is best made a day or two before you would like to serve it and it is easier to portion if you freeze it for a few hours before slicing. The finished bars also store particularly well in the freezer.
LEMON CHEESECAKE BARS
For the base:
150g ginger biscuits (or plain biscuit of your choice)
40g soft brown sugar
60g butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
575g full fat cream cheese
120g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Zest and juice of 2 large lemons
100ml double cream, lightly whipped
For the lemon curd (makes 250ml):
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1. For the base: Line an 8 x 8inch square tin with parchment paper, allowing the paper to come up the sides of the tin and leaving a few centimetres hanging over the edge. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
2. Put the biscuits into a food processor with the sugar and blend to a fine powder. Add the melted butter and blitz again, until well combined. You should have the texture of wet sand.
3. Press the biscuit powder into the base of the tin, packing tightly. Put the tin in the fridge to set while making the filling.
4. For the cheesecake filling: Put all of the cheesecake filling ingredients except the cream into a food processor and blend until smooth and fully combined. Alternatively, mix well in a bowl until smooth.
5. Fold in the whipped cream, and pour the mix into the tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or a palette knife.
6. Put the square tin into a larger tin and place in the oven. Pour boiling water into the larger tin until the water comes halfway up the smaller tin. Close the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should have a slight wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, overnight is preferable. You can also freeze it at this point.
7. For the lemon curd: Put all of the ingredients in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk continuously for about five to 10 minutes until the curd coats the back of a wooden spoon or until it has reached 75 degrees. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, pour into sterilised jars and seal. The lemon curd will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.
8. Slice the cheesecake into 12 bars, and drizzle with lemon curd to serve.