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Rustic Cheesecake - blogger's waffle

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

Good cheesecake is to die for. Creamy but light, soft and airy, tangy but not too crumbly, smooth but not gummy, velvety rather than gritty. Few simple ingredients if mixed together well - indulgence guaranteed. On the other hand, it’s so easy to mess it up. In a search of the perfect recipe I have baked and eaten a lot of semi-satisfying cheesecakes. Hence, I am so eager to share with you this recipe which I believe hits all the right spots. If you watched Friend’s Cheesecake episode ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PmOOcnnc28 ) you know for what reaction I am going for. Literally - it will disappear that quick!

As this week is American inspired I thought that this cheesecake has to make the list. Why? Every time I am trying US cheesecake recipe I am dreading the reference to spreadable white soft cheese. As Sparks writes in her book Bravetart (2017): “When the New York State inspector dropped by Philadelphia’s factory in November 1883 he found the milk is skimmed and is run into the emulsifier, where it is mixed with lard. The inspector deemed the milk too sour for routine analysis and declared the entire facility a loss. Whether the crackdown led Philly’s owner to reform his lardy ways, or whether consumers simply couldn’t resist the clever brand, Philadelphia cream cheese came to dominate the industry”. That was and in many cases still is the filling of American cheesecakes which gives heavy and gummy flavour.

Sadly, most of cheesecakes you get which are claiming to be NY style cheesecakes are far from the famous original.

As Park’s notes, the famous NY style cheesecake comes from recipes like the one published in the New York Times as ‘A Good Cheesecake’. The early XX century NYT Cheesecake recipe in terms of ratios is very similar to ratios used in Eastern European Cheesecakes (maybe Jewish connection?) and calls for good quality, full fat cream cheese (no lard or skimmed milk please!). Then in late 20s came Jewish New Yorker Reuben which using Break-stone’s brand cream cheese (cottage/lardy cheese was used elsewhere) put the recipe out there into boozing NY deli scene. Once picked up by New Yorkers the baking treat made it’s name appearing in movies, shows, songs making it what it is now - the American classic.

I knew that there must be something better out there and not expecting too much I have tried Park’s recipe which is inspired by old-fashioned NYT recipe. The result is exactly spot on: light, creamy, soft and airy, tangy, smooth and velvety slice of heaven. I have tried to do a recipe following Eastern European way of preparing cheesecakes which in terms of ratios is matching vintage NYT recipe. What Spark’s gave me in terms of technique was: a) recommending to boil double cream before pouring it hot into the soft cheese b) baking it a’la soufflé c) use good quality cream cheese. In the recipe posted in blog I am using Spark’s technique and Eastern European ratios (less sugar) - the combination is fantastic.

Few good quality ingredients and you are good to go. Don’t be put off by pompous soufflé-like baking connection. It’s nothing else than baking in high temperature, removing steam and then baking in low temperature with slow cooling following shortly after. Nothing else and way less demanding than a typical soufflé baking.

As a result you will get light, soft and airy cheesecake. It grows beautifully and does not deflate like classical soufflé going wrong :) It puffs up and leaves beautiful, rustic looking skin on top. It tastes scrumptious straight from the oven or cooled.

It’s RUSTIC, rough and ready piece of indulgence.

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