Tuesday, May 22, 2007

simple but ohh so good

image: 10 Commandments, 18 C germany

tonight starts the observance of the holiday of the feast of weeks, an important harvest festival which not only celebrates the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, but also the end of the counting of the omer, or verbal recitation of 49 days of biblical measures of barley with the 50th having been offered in the great temple of jerusalem on shavuoth (culmination of weeks or 7 days x 7 weeks =49 days). the only thing remaining of the temple is now the kotel ha'ma'aravi, or wailing wall.

this counting of the omer started on the 2nd night of passover and continues until the 50th day which is where we are now. during this counting period — until the holiday of lag b'omer — we do not celebrate things like weddings as it considered a mourning period. those who are very observant will not shave, listen to music, go to parties, etc. from now on, however, many a bride and groom shall wed with great mirth and people resume their celebrations.

tomorrow morning families will congregate at synagogues to pray and to listen to the recitation of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. afterwards, what to do? EAT, of course!! families customarily will decorate homes with greenery and flowers and prepare elaborate meals which are dairy based <— great article.

nothing says shavuot like cheesecake.

while there is a whole world of types of cheesecakes out there, i really like a plain and simple one. the following recipe couldn't be simpler and is quite easy and quick to throw together. it results in a wonderfully light and creamy textured cake accented by a wholewheat crust, rather than the run-of-the-mill graham cracker crust (which i cannot stand).

unless i am entertaining guests, or giving a cake [or portions of it] away, i make a less gargantuan sized one which seem to be the norm in the cheesecake world. there are great smaller sized springform pans available on the market today which make beautiful finished cakes, perfect for a smaller family or just because it helps lessen having so much temptation laying around in the fridge for those late night binges!

this version is also very open to adding flavourings to it such as baileys, tia maria or khalua, and the list goes on.... of course, it doesn't have to be alcoholic. one can add melted chocolate and/or a shot of espresso or coffee powder. sometimes, i'll leave the cake portion as is and then flavour the sourcream topping instead.

plain & simple cheesecake

a quick and easy-to-make cheesecake, this one is light and creamy. it can be frozen for longer storage. double only the filling and topping if making a larger cake.

makes one small cake or quite a few minis if made in muffin tins.

note before starting: use a smaller springform pan for this recipe or similar sized pan. mine is 6 5/8" x 2 1/2" or 17,5 cm x 6,3 cm.

crust ingredients:

1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
4 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 c dried coconut or finely ground nuts, opt.
7 tbsp vegetable oil

filling ingredients:

2 pkgs cream cheese*, enough to equal 1 lb (454 g)
1/4 c sour cream or thick yogurt
1 c white sugar
2 eggs
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract

*cream cheese must be at room temperature (soft)

topping ingredients:

1 c sour cream
4 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

to make the crust:

mix the dry ingredients together.

add the oil.

mix well.

press well into the springform pan and up the sides.

tip: put tin foil all around the pan as the oil will seep a bit while baking. this helps to reduce the mess.

make sure it is compact.

bake for 15 minutes. remove from oven and let cool.

meanwhile, make the filling.

method for filling:

place all the ingredients in a large bowl.

blend everything with a mixer until it is very smooth.

preheat the oven to 300 F and prepare a pan to act as a bain marie for the cake pan. boil water to place in the bain marie.

make the cake:

put tin foil around the springform pan (again). this will act to ensure water does not get in the cake and that any oil from the crust which seeps (and it will) will not go into the water and make a mess. i usually double wrap to err on the side of precaution. you may want to also. i use a heavier bbq type tin foil as it is sturdier.

pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top.

prepare the bain marie:

put the larger pan that will hold the cheesecake in the middle of the oven. place, very carefully, the cheesecake in the pan. pour the hot water into the bain marie pan so that it goes 1/3 to 1/2 way up the side. make sure it does not go into the tinfoil.

bake the cake for 2 hours at 300 F.

after 2 hours turn the oven off.

let it sit in the oven for another hour.

remove the cake very carefully from the oven with the tin foil still on it and place it on the counter on paper towels to cool a few minutes.

do not be tempted to touch the cake's surface or you'll remove part of it on your finger! i talk from experience.

get rid of the water and bain marie pan.

turn the heat up to 450 F.

make the topping:

place the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and mix well.

carefully add the topping on top of the cheesecake.

return the cake to the oven and bake a full 10 minutes. this is to set the sour cream. it will firm up once fully refrigerated.

very carefully remove the cake and place it back on the counter and let it cool undisturbed. do not be tempted to touch the cake with your fingers or you'll leave marks. you may notice that there will be little bubbles; this is fine.

when it has cooled sufficiently, place it in the fridge for at least several hours. overnight is best.

i have found that using a plate turned upside down is the best cover for the cake. if you use plastic wrap, it will adhere to the surface and destroy the topping.

hours later or the next day, take a knife and run it around the cake very carefully and slowly. make sure the knife is flush with the side of the pan and you go all the way to the bottom of the cake.

carefully remove the ring and serve with fresh fruit and coffee or tea. remember, use a hot wet knife when cutting the slices. the first is for the cook — it is the most difficult to extricate.


gut yom tov

happy holiday

חג שמח לכולם


Beenzzz said...

I love cheesecake. I believe that the simpler it is the better it is. Sometimes, chocolate cheesecake can be too rich.
Beautiful photo of the finished product, by the way! :)

Nafeesah said...

Oh Dear......i'm quite torn now as to which to make first, this scrumptious cheesecake or those delicious looking bagels you posted down below?

I guess I'll just make them both LOL one at a time though...I was going to buy the cottage cheese today to make those bagels. Then I just MUST try this, the crust is something absolutely new to me, I'm accustomed to the regular graham...My father would love the idea of a wheat crust.

I'll let you know how it goes :)

burekaboy — said...

nafeesah - hey there :) LOL, well i think you will have to make them both! just remember though the cheese bagels can be a bit fussy; if you get little rips just try to patch them up. in any case, they'll bake fine. otherwise, you can just use a regular puff pastry dough from the grocers.

i have never been a big fan of graham cracker crusts so i like this one with wholewheat flour. it is a bit different texturally though once baked but equally as good as the standard one.

will wait for your results :)) email me if u need help.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, marvelous! Who doesn't like cheesecake?! I made one last week and it was gorgeous! Your crust looks delicious (very different from the Graham Cracker one)....

chanit said...

חג שמח
Your cake looks perfect ! :-)

אני הולכת עכשיו לחפש אם נשאר לך קצת גריבן..שששש

burekaboy — said...

rosa - believe it or not, i know a bunch of people who don't like cheesecake! anyway, more for us, right? and, yup, the crust is really good.

chanit - thank you!

chag same'ach gam lach u'l'mishpachatech. LOL, al ha griven. lo nishar harbeh; rutzi maher maher.

burekaboy — said...

beenzzz - just got your message NOW!! weeks later.

i'm with you: the simpler, the better. some cheesecakes just have way too much going on with them, LOL.

thanks for the comment and compliment :))

Urban said...

Hi there,
i was about to make this cheesecake and then noticed something.
at wht temp. must the crust be baked for 15 min as suggested in your recipe?
(the recipe is indeed very tempting!!)
thanks and regards,

burekaboy — said...

hi urban - oops! sorry, didn't realize that info was missing. pre-bake the crust at 350F or 180C. thanks for letting me know.

it's an excellent cheesecake. i hope the cream cheese you can get there is close to the same as ours which is very very dense, soft and completely smooth (hence CREAM cheese). you can see what the blocks of it look like in the pictures.

hope you're well :)