Fruits of the Forest Cheesecake

Thank goodness the weather decided to perk up a little bit this week. I was starting to get horribly down in the dumps about the rain, but a little time out in the countryside, some sunshine, and of course, loads of sleep, have worked their magic.

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This cheesecake was one of the desserts I made for the housewarming party. I love unbaked cheesecakes for their simplicity, creamy texture and deliciousness. In fact, I love them so much I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to making the baked kind!

Anyway, at the housewarming party itself I never got round to taking a photo of the cheesecake, but it went down very well, and I still had plenty of ingredients leftover, so I of course, made it again.

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It was quite dark by the time I finished making it, so out came my camera to attempt some artificial light photography. I’m pretty pleased with the results!

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It’s just right for a crowd. I’d probably size it down by half if I was baking it again for just two – A and I managed to manfully eat our way through a large slice every day for a week.

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I’m a bit cheesecaked out at the moment, but as the festive season gets closer and closer I will be excited about thinking up some other variations, including peanut butter, baileys or even a spicy ginger version. Yum.

Summer Berries and Cream Cake

Small happy thoughts towards the end to the rather wet summer…

A fresh coat of scarlet paint on my toenails, an upcoming trip to the Royal Opera House, the anticipation of annual leave in just a few weeks time, and with it, opportunities to go and explore the beautiful South Downs.

More in the present (or rather, the past, by the time this post goes up) is the prospect of delicious cake. I have lost count of how many times I have baked variations on a theme of sponge cake this summer. The combination of buttery sponge, cream and fresh fruit has an utterly delicious scent and is just irresistable to a cake-fiend like me.

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On the bank holiday weekend, A and I held our first flatwarming party. I went bake-crazy and made a grand sum of two kinds of macarons, a lemon and raspberry cake filled with lemon curd, raspberry jam and cream cheese, pumpkin pie, mixed berry cheesecake, and two kinds of chocolate tiffin. Then after all that, I had a wobble when the cheesecake base went soggy, made a second cheesecake, a backup sponge cake, and bought a pear tart from the patisserie just in case all the above wasn’t enough.

I think the moral of this story is don’t make quite so much next time!

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My parents ended up being the recipients of this, the backup cake, and very tasty it was too. It’s a very simple victoria sponge, unflavoured, and filled with whipped double cream, raspberry jam, and topped with a profusion of late summer fruit. I overwhipped the cream so it looks aesthetically less pretty, but actually I prefer it that way in terms of taste and texture.

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I was surprised to find out that my parents’ lawn was a lush verdant green, rather than the scorched gold I tend to expect at this time of year. One positive from the excessive amount of rain lately.

Sadly I didn’t actually take any pictures of the bakes at the housewarming itself! I’ll definitely be making the lemon sponge again though, as the pink lemon curd in the centre was just so girlishly pleasing. Summer might be coming to an end, but the cakes are just going to keep coming!

Summer Berry Cheesecake

I baked a variation of this strawberry cheesecake at the weekend. It’s based on this BBC Good Food cheesecake, plus some extra lemon juice, and a smattering of blueberries for some very patriotic colours (if you live in the UK, USA, France etc).

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At first, I was afraid it was too rich. But it just needed more time in the fridge to set properly, and for the flavours to mingle and settle. It was a little tricky to cut tidily.If you want to cut it into small slices for a crowd, it might be better to add the fresh fruit and coulis onto each slice after cutting. I’m keen on trying more no-bake cheesecake recipes out there, they’re just perfect for a sunny weekend.

Photo credits and Photoshop wizardry for this cheesecake again go to A.

Also a big thank you to all my readers! This week, I finally crossed the 100 followers mark, and am so excited to have such a wonderful following of fellow cake enthusiasts. It means a lot to me. 🙂

Summer Berry Cheesecake

Adapted from BBC Good Food

For the base and filling:

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 125g salted butter
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 284ml double cream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon

For the topping:

  • 400g fresh strawberries
  • sprinkling of blueberries
  • 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar

Make the biscuit base first. Crush the biscuits to crumbs. Melt the butter and mix the two together so the consistency is like wet sand, then press into the base of a 20cm cake tin. Put in the fridge to chill.

Make the cream cheese filling next. Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and double cream until thickened and able to hold its own shape. Beat in vanilla extract and lemon juice, adjusting to taste if needed. Spread over the biscuit base, smoothing the top, and return to the fridge to chill overnight.

Chop the strawberries into halves. Take one quarter of the strawberries and blend to a purée then sieve through to remove the seeds. Add a tbsp icing sugar, and set to one side.

Unmould the chilled cheesecake from the tin. Arrange the remaining chopped strawberries and blueberries on top, then drizzle with the strawberry purée and serve. Tada!

Victoria Sandwich with Blueberry Conserve

I seem to have developed a real aversion to oil-based cakes. Very odd. I’m pretty sure (99.9% certain) that my palate hasn’t undergone any other drastic changes, but for now, let’s play on the safe side.

Old-fashioned English tea time treats use a veritable abundance of butter. Not so good for the heart, but very yummy, c’est vrai.

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One of the most traditional is the Victoria sponge. It is the first cake I learnt to bake. I would say nowadays that it is a simple cake to make, but I can recall the awful eggy abominations I used to produce, so there are many ways it can indeed go wrong.

There are manifold variations of the Victoria sponge; the classic tweaked and teased in cookbooks and over the internet. Never mind those. I still think it is best in its original incarnation. Soft salted butter, caster sugar, eggs, and self-raising flour. Not even the addition of vanilla is necessary.

My victoria sponge took a surprisingly short amount of time to bake, being ready after only 18 minutes in the oven! I put this down to using a relatively small quantity of cake batter and 15cm tins.  Still, it rose beautifully, and I happily slathered a generous layer of blueberry conserve on. Originally I was intending to go for a more traditional raspberry or strawberry jam, but the blueberry worked brilliantly.

Victoria Sandwich Cake

  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 130g spreadable salted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • milk
  • jam

Preheat the oven to 170 or 180˚C. Grease and line two 15cm cake tins. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs in, one by one, and then fold in the flour until just combined. Add a spoonful of milk to get it to a dropping consistency, then divide between the two cake tins and bake for 18-20 minutes until gently golden and springy. Unmould from the cake tins and wait until cooled, then sandwich the cakes together with a slathering of jam.

Tartes aux Fruits, je t’aime

Spending my weekend lolling around reading Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Kiss, I started feeling a desperate desire for Parisian patisserie.

Given my geographical location, I have been to Paris many times over the past few years. Yet astonishingly, I have never, not once bought any patisserie in France, ever??

Knowing me, this is a TRAVESTY.

So until I read Laura Florand’s novel – I had been walking past Ladurée and the whole area of St Germain de Pres, sitting in café de thés, glancing at colourful meringues, and not once had it occurred to me that there was a whole world of edible beauty out there to be explored.

If you are heading to Paris any time soon, read The Chocolate Kiss and all will make sense. Unfortunately, I am not going to Paris, so I had to make do with what’s available here.

This is what I did:

  1. Wander around London gormlessly and fruitlessly 
  2. End up in Pierre Hermé and blow a small fortune on macarons
  3. Bake

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Et voila!

We have here a pâté sucrée case filled with mascarpone cream, a profusion of fruit and a dusting of icing sugar on top to finish. I do feel a small pang of guilt at buying so much out-of-season fresh fruit, but fortunately for my carbon footprint, none of them came from too far away – I’m assuming the environs of the Mediterranean are fair game.

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I’m so pleased with how these turned out! They certainly sated my patisserie craving….for a while. I’m guessing the lure of Paris will still continue to pull. Let’s see if I can purchase a proper patisserie cookbook and see where my baking projects go from there!