So, the year that wouldn't get over and the year that just passed by is finally on its home stretch. It's also the time when we take stock of the year that was. Aided by year-end listicles, I've been thinking back at the year and all the time we spent in the kitchen. As the world outside locked down, that's where we all seemed to retreat to. And we cooked food that was in equal parts, essential and elaborate, nourishing and indulgent and of course, resourceful and comforting.
And who can forget the baking. Even my defunct blog seemed to get more traffic than usual. Whilst it was the banana bread and the sourdough revolution that got all the headlines, for me, it was the Basque burnt cheesecake that seemed to pop up everywhere I turned online. Of course, at the time we were under a strict lockdown that necessitated rationing and frankly, with Summer raging outside there's no way I was even looking in the direction of the oven.
So, the recipe was filed away and finally, given a shot this weekend. And I'm here to shout it from the rooftops that the hype for this recipe is completely justified. It's as if Chef Santiago Rivera heard all complaints about how fussy it is to make a baked cheesecake and came up with an alternative that simplifies the process, lets you make all the mistakes, burn the top and still results in this soft, creamy, light, baked cheesecake that will have you talking about it long after you've eaten it. I speak from experience.
I used the Bon Appetit recipe that most people seemed to refer to as a guide. It is all about mixing all the ingredients into a smooth mixture and then baking at a very high temperature. The high temperature is what makes the mixture poof up, burn the top and then when you take it out of the oven, it collapses and cracks. Now, if this had happened with a regular baked cheesecake recipe, you would have fretted but none of that out here. Out here, it is part of the cheesecake's rustic charm. The burnt top forms this crust like top in a cheesecake that has no crust. Under the crust is this creamy, baked filling that is surprisingly lighter than your regular baked cheesecake. Not all cloying or claggy and it does not need anything to pair it with. It is perfect just as it is. I'd recommend flavouring the mixture with a bit of vanilla extract and lemon zest. It helps the flavour profile tremendously.
Since, it's just Mama and me at home, I made a small cheesecake which used the least amount of cream cheese required. It is a recipe that I found on Gayatri's blog, 'The Desserted Girl'. Since it was a small amount of batter, this is not as high as the other cheesecakes that you might see around. But, it was more than enough for the two of us and we may or may not have polished off the whole thing in a day! In our defence, its been a soggy few days out here and we were in a mood for something indulgent and yes, it is THAT good.
Below, I have given recipe links and a few pointers that helped me with this bake. Choose the recipe that works with the size of the springform tin you have. The ingredients and process remains the same.
It is so good that I advise you to interrupt whatever you are doing, even if its your Christmas baking and bake this cheesecake. Because this cheesecake is a fitting way to say goodbye to the year and all the negative juju it carried with it.