Each year, a few days before my birthday I start getting all excited and nervous, like a little girl, wanting to know what kind of surprises and presents are waiting for me (if any, I worry). I start nagging and trying to get any clue I can out of my husband and son. But they don’t break and tell me nothing. With mysterious smiles on their faces they go on keeping their birthday top secrets to themselves and torture me. I have no choice but wait impatiently.
BUT with *MY* blog I can do whatever I want and I just can’t wait. On July 15th this very blog will turn 1 years old!!!! Yippee! And I want to celebrate now! And I want to talk about the gift now.
So, let the festivities begin! There’s a cake and a giveaway…
For the blog’s birthday I’d like to share with you one of my favorite cakes, cheesecake. Yummmmmmm. Cheesecakes are very easy to make but you need to plan a day head and you need to know a couple of tricks to ensure success. Don’t worry, in the spirit of the blog’s birthday, I will share my secrets with you, my favorite readers.
Before diving into the recipe & secrets, let me tell you about the gift.
I’m having a new giveaway. This time I have a heavy cookbook to give to one lucky reader.
A signed copy of Memorable Recipes by Renee Behnke (check out her new blog), the former president of the chain of kitchen stores, Sur La Table. This book has beautiful recipes featuring different cuisines with lots of gorgeous food photos.
For a chance to win the book, do one (or more) of the following:
* leave a comment telling me about a post/recipe in this blog that you liked, or a recipe from the blog you have cooked at home and how was it
* mention and link to my blog or any of its posts on your blog
* promote one of my posts on social media: Stumble, digg it, or technorati fave it (see icons at the end of each post), or Twitter.
*subscribe to my blog via e-mail or RSS feed. (If you don’t know how to do it, click here for details).
* Give the blog a gift and tell about it to friend/family and have them post a comment and say “hi, I’m new here, my friend X sent me to check this blog out… etc etc”.
The more you love, the bigger your chances to win right?! And there are many ways to show your love… For each option of the above that you have made, leave a separate comment to let me know.
Limited to U.S. and Canada (Sorry). Starting today and ending July 31st, 2009.
Now to the cake…
Summer Berry Cheesecake
Based on Ina Garten’s Raspberry Cheesecake recipe but with a better crust. Forget the graham cracker crust – it tastes like cardboard anyway… this is so much better.
Makes a big cake for 12-16 people.
Use a 10-inch (26 cm) springform pan (measured at the bottom)
For the crust:
2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks*
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cup self-rising flour**
For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds (1135 grams) cream cheese, room temperature (you can use light chesse)
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature*
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
3 half-pints fresh raspberries (or any berry you like)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the pan.
To make the crust, place all the crust ingredients in a food processor bowl. Process until you get crumbly and moist crumbs. Spread and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. (If it sticks to your fingers, refrigerate for a few minutes). Chill for 15 minutes if you can, or bake right away for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.
To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
* you can save and freeze the egg whites and make this later: Black Forest Chocolate Roulade
** 1 cup self rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder + ½ teaspoon salt
More secrets to success below…
1. make the cake one day ahead. The cake needs time to cool & set and the flavor will be a lot better.
2. Make a hot water bath. After baking the crust and letting it cool, wrap the springform pan with two sheets of aluminum foil. Place in a bigger deep pan and add the filling. Pour hot tap/boiling water into the bigger pan up to half the height of the springform pan. Be careful when you transfer the whole thing into the oven.
3. As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, run a knife around the edges. This will prevent the cake from cracking as it cools.
4. No need to over-beat the cheese mixture while in the mixer. Some say that overworking the eggs results in a cracked top cake.