One of the most iconic treats to hit our Instagram pages in recent years is a crude and round block of cheesecake, beautifully burnt on top with a creamy, custard-like texture as you make your way down to the middle.
Recalling her first taste of the basque burnt cheesecake made from a wood-fired stove, Nigella Lawson recreates her own, using an oven and no more than ingredients from your nearby supermarket – all without compromising the essence of the trendy and distinct dessert.
This recipe is featured in Nigella Lawson’s new BBC show which focuses on her favourite recipes for home-cooking. Nigella’s Eat, Cook, Repeat, premieres in Singapore on Monday, 16th August at 7.00pm, on StarHub channel 432 and BBC Player.
- 600 g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 175 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 300 ml sour cream, at room temperature
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 25 g cornflour
- 15 g hard pure liquorice pellets
- 90 g caster sugar
- 300 ml water
- A pinch of fine sea salt (optional)
- Blackberries or other berries of your choice, to serve
Heat the oven to 200 C (180 C fan-forced). Get out a 20 cm spring form tin and a roll of baking parchment. Unfurl a long piece from the roll, and when it looks like you’ve got enough to line the tin with an overhang of 5–7 cm, tear it off and press it into the tin, and down into the edges at the bottom. Now do the same again with a second piece, placing it perpendicular to the first so that the tin is entirely lined. Push this piece down, too, and don’t worry about any pleats, creases and wrinkles; this is The Look. Sit something heavy in the tin to keep the paper in place while you get on with the cheesecake mixture.
I use a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat paddle for this, but you could easily use a large mixing bowl, wooden spoon and elbow grease. First beat the cream cheese with the sugar until light and smooth; I beat for quite a long time, certainly not under 2 mins, and it would be at least 5 mins by hand. It is absolutely essential that the cream cheese is at room temperature before you start.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding the next, and when they’re all mixed in, you can–beating all the while–pour in the sour cream.
Once that is also incorporated, you can slow down the mixer a little (or risk getting cornflour all over yourself) and then beat in the salt, followed by the cornflour, one tsp at a time. Remove the bowl from the mixer, scrape down the sides with a silicon spatula, and give everything a good stir.
Pour into the lined tin (removing whatever’s been sitting in it), making sure no cheesecake mix is left in the bowl, and then rap the filled tin on the work surface about five times to get rid of any air bubbles.
Place in the oven and bake for 50 mins, by which time the cheesecake will be a burnished bronze on top, even chestnut brown in places, and it’ll have risen, like a dense soufflé. It will, however, still be very jiggly. It’s meant to be. You’ll think it’s undercooked, but it will carry on cooking as it cools, and it should have a soft set, anyway.
Remove the tin to a wire rack and leave to cool. It will sink in the middle a little, but that too is part of its traditional appearance. I reckon it’s cool enough to eat after 3 hrs, although you may need to leave it for a little longer. If you want to chill it in the fridge, do, but not for more than 30 mins.
Make the liquorice sauce once the cheesecake is out of the oven. If you have a bullet blender, you can pulverise the liquorice pastilles first, but whether whole or powder, put in a small saucepan with the 300 ml of water. Stir in the sugar, then put on a lowish flame until the liquorice has all but dissolved, stirring to give it a bit of a nudge every now and again to help it melt. Then turn up the heat and let bubble away until reduced to 150 ml–turning the heat down a bit if it looks like it’s boiling over. In a 14 cm diameter pan, I find this can take up to 20 mins. Keep checking–you’ll need a small heatproof measuring jug by your side. take. Stir in a pinch of salt if finished leave to cool, when it will have the texture of a syrup, which in effect, it is.
Before serving, unclip and lift the sides of the tin up and away, and then lift the cheesecake up with the edges of the parchment. Place this on a board, and peel the paper back, and take it like that, rustically beautiful, to the table, along with your blackberries and even blacker liquorice syrup. Just drizzle a little over the slices of cheesecake as you hand them out, allowing hardcore liquorice lovers to spoon moreover as they eat.
Text: Nigella Lawson