I used to work as a freelancer on various food magazines – when I was allowed to write something, I loved it. But most of the time I did sub-editing and proofreading of recipes and supplement sections – it could be the most toe-curlingly-dull work ever. Not least because everyone typically ignores the freelancer, stuck at the crappy corner desk, as though they are some kind of alien species. But one benefit of my time on these magazines was that it made me super-anal about recipe quantities. I get so irate when cookbooks and mags don’t get their quantities right. It’s easily done, though – we’re all human.
I often find that Nigel Slater’s recipes in the Observer have mistakes in them. I know too well how that must happen – the recipes get sub-edited down to death to fit a tiny space. Many was the time I was driven around the bend by the same problem – trying to make 250 words fit a 50 word space – argh! I probably did exactly the same thing 1000 times over during my years at Delicious or Waitrose Food Illustrated magazines. And probably do it all the time on this blog. Oh well!
Anyway, since the news is unrelentingly depressing at the moment, I thought I’d put up a nice cheesecake recipe to cheer everyone up. I love cheesecake, and recently have been craving lemony tangy flavours. This one is based on two recipes by Nigel Slater, which I’ve tweaked around a bit. It’s a bit bloody good.
Serves 8 – 10 people who don’t count calories
You will need:
Lemon curd topping
Zest and juice of 4 unwaxed lemons
100g butter cut into cubes
3 organic eggs and 1 egg yolk
350g digestive biscuits (or a mixture of 200g shortbread and 150g oatcakes)
1 x 284g tub double Jersey cream
500g full fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
Scant capful of vanilla extract (use cap from bottle)
First make the lemon curd. Put the lemon zest, juice, butter and sugar into a heatproof bowl set over a simmering pan of water – make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir from time to time until everything is melted. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and egg yolk with a fork, then stir into the lemon mixture. Let the mixture cook over the simmering water, using a whisk to stir regularly, for between 10 and 15 minutes, until it thickens up like custard. Take off the heat and let cool down. As it cools, give it an occasional stir with the whisk. (If you can wait that long, it will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge)
Your lovely lemon curd:
Now make your cheesecake base. Line the base of a 23-cm springform tin with a disk of greaseproof paper. Blitz the biscuits to fine sandy crumbs in a food processor, then melt the butter and mix everything together in a bowl. Press the buttery biscuit crumbs into the base of the tin with your fingers, pressing hard to compact the crumbs together. Put the tin in the fridge to let the base harden for about 30 minutes.
To make the cheesecake mixture, whip the cream and sugar together until just stiff – it will take mere seconds if you use an electric whisk. Then using a spatula (not the whisk) mix in the cream cheese and vanilla extract. Then take your cooled lemon curd and fold two thirds of it into the cheesecake mix – try not to mix it in totally as it’s nice to get a ‘ripple’ effect. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and spread flat with a spatula. Then spread the remaining lemon curd on top of the cheesecake – you want to get a nice even spread of lemony goodness. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving with a dollop of lemon curd on the side if you have any left…
A deliciously untidy slice of lemony heaven: