Basque Style Honey and Lemon Cheesecake
Uniquely creamy cheesecake only slightly sweetened by honey, with hints of lemon flavour and delicious shortbread crust.
The look and creamy texture come from baking in high temperature in initial stage. Most Basque cheesecakes are baked at 200C for 50 minutes. In our version we are baking the cheesecake at 230C for first 15-18 minutes to achieve creamy texture and rustic look (slightly similar to Portuguese custard pies - Pastéis de Nata) and then bake at low temperature to keep moisture and thickness intact.
Cream cheese is only slightly sweetened by small amount of honey and flavoured with lemon juice. Additional sweetness comes from sweet shortbread crust which can be baked on salted or unsalted butter.
All in all - uniquely creamy cheesecake, soft and light in texture, only slightly sweetened with subtle hints of lemon flavour, delicious buttery shortbread crust and characteristic rustic look.
Preparation of crust takes 5 minutes. The crust base is blind baked for 15 minutes. Leftover pastry is used to cover sides (no blind baking needed). Honey is melted and heated up until lukewarm then it’s mixed with small amount of cream cheese before mixing with the rest of the filling. This is the only amount of natural sugar required in the recipe. For more intense flavour mix cream cheese with honey and lemon juice and let it set at room temperature for 2-3 hours before baking.
Sugar and excessive beating aerate the cheesecake filling - cheesecake will puff up excessively with high risk of deflation when cooling. To avoid this:
- use small amount of honey to sweeten cream cheese,
- minimise mixing and use food processor or spoon/whisk,
- pour piping hot double cream into cream cheese (to lock any excess air bubbles),
- tap bowl and mix slightly cream cheese filling in the baking tin,
- follow baking and cooling instructions.
Baking in high temperature for first 15-18 minutes allows the cheesecake to puff up enough to create creamy texture, then venting the oven for 10 minutes removes steam (balances the temperature) and baking at low temperature for 40 minutes sets creamy filling. As the cheesecake is baked with high shortbread crust for a good bake here plaster sides of the tin slightly above the rim (1cm out) and 0.7-1cm thick. High temperature will lead to some crust browning - see picture. Once cheesecake cools shave off small amount of crust to bring back the crust to rim level and remove excessive browning. The cheesecake will have firm edges and slightly wobbly centre when baked. Once baked remove sides of the tin only when the cheesecake is fully cooled.
If you love cheesecakes check out our other recipes:
Basque Style Honey and Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
Yield: 16 servings
Time: 20 min prep + 55-60 min baking + cooling
Tin: 23cm round form with removable base (or spring form)
For the shortbread crust:
- 2 cups* (300g) all-purpose flour
- 200g butter (salted or unsalted), straight from the fridge and diced
- 2/3 cup (80g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
For the cream cheese filling:
- 1kg cream cheese, room temperature
- 250g Ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) clear lemon juice
- 5 Tablespoons (105g) honey
- 5 large eggs + egg white (leftover from the crust)
- 2/3 cup (166ml) double cream (36%)
*cup = 250ml cup
1. Prepare the crust: Mix flour with confectioners’ sugar. Add diced butter and using pastry cutter (or food processor) combine the mixture until crumbly. If you don’t have a pastry cutter rub butter into the flour with your fingers, making flat pieces between your thumb and fingers (as if you were slowly snapping your fingers). Once the texture resembles coarse mixture add egg yolk and swiftly form the dough. Line bottom of the baking tin with parchment paper. Roll out the pastry to form circle and place onto the bottom of the baking tin (or you can fit in smaller pieces of pastry onto the bottom of the tin and even out with a glass). You will blind bake only the base. Place the tin in the refrigerator and preheat oven to 180C. Once ready blind bake the base for 15 minutes until light golden. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 230C.
2. Prepare cream cheese filling and assemble: In a large bowl mix cream cheese with lemon juice. In a small pot warm up honey and mix with 2 Tablespoons cream cheese - once smooth and combined add warm to the rest of cream cheese and mix until combined (best is to do this part 2-3 hours before baking if time allows). Add eggs (all at once) and mix only until combined (don’t over-mix). Once the crust base has cooled patch tin walls with the rest of the dough - 0.7-1cm thick and going some 0.5 cm outside of the rim. Once ready, refrigerate the crust for few minutes (just enough to complete cream cheese filling). In a small pot bring double cream to boil and pour hot into cream cheese filling - mix until combined (once mixed, tap the bowl few times). Take out the crust and pour the cream cheese mixture. Using knife gently stir the cream cheese mixture in the tin (few stirs) to lock out air bubbles.
3. Bake: Bake at 230C for 15 -18 minutes. After that time switch off the oven, crack open the oven door and vent for 10 minutes, then switch back the oven at 120C and bake for another 40 minutes.
4. Cooling: Once the cheesecake is baked, crack open the oven door and cool in the oven for 30 minutes. After that time cool at room temperature for 30 minutest to 1 hour. Once cooled to room temperature using sharp knife gently shave off browned crust. Release springform and remove from the tin when cheesecake is fully cooled. Refrigerate overnight.
1. Cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 7-10 days.
Jazz it up:
1. Crust - you may opt to add lemon zest from 1 lemon to intensify lemon flavour of the cheesecake.
2. Cream cheese - options are limitless. You may opt to add lemon zest to intensify the flavour (or replace lemon with grapefruit, orange or blood orange juice and zest). You may opt to add raisins soaked in rum (100ml rum or brandy for 100g raisins, soaked overnight - squeeze raisins before adding to the cream cheese). You may opt to replace 400g cream cheese with goat cheese or ricotta cheese.