So I found myself home alone on Saturday morning and having done all of our much needed house and garden work I decided to count up all of my jars of jam. Oh yeah thats another thing that I have been doing instead of writing here. Jam making. Lots of it. If anyone has ever read Margaret Mahy’s Jam then you can kind of imagine what our house looks like. There are secret depositories of preserved delight hidden all over the show, including in an old shoe box under the sofa!Read More
Even though the task of making my own wedding cake has been completely removed from my hands (because lets be honest I would prioritise icing over having my hair down the morning of) I am still going to pretend like I need to make a hundred prototypes as part of my "research".Read More
A few weeks ago I was approached by The Blind Foundation to share a recipe for their upcoming Bikkie Day on the 2 July. Being an avid lover of bikkies and puppies I could hardly say no although being the terrible person that I am I procrastinated until the week before to actually make a recipe to share. Partaking in Bikkie Day helps to raise money for the breeding and training of Blind Foundation guide dogs.Read More
Kia ora koutou
So I just realised it has been six months (aka HALF A YEAR) since I last posted something. HOW?? How has this much time gone by without it even feeling like it? That is terrifying. As my (almost) four year old nephew would say, I'm getting oooold.
In the last six months we moved out of our little home in Christchurch, moved back to Auckland, went to India for a month, lost a combined total of 17kg between us (thanks India...), bought a wee house, started a new job, lost a new job, found a new new job, and developed a chutney making habit. All of that has been punctuated with the same old caramel slice and ginger loaf making (Dylan knows what he likes) so nothing new has been made to post about here. Until now...
When I was given my two weeks redundancy notice at my old new job I decided to make the most of its Parnell location and visit a cafe nearby called Winona Forever as frequently as I could. I do believe that it was in fact named after Johnny Depp's Winona forever tattoo on his arm, that aside it has the most incredible cake selection. I brought home one evening a wee cheesecake to share. It was a delicious biscuit base with creamy ricotta filling with candied macadamia nuts and salted caramel all over it. It was outrageous and since then I have been eager to make such a delight.
I finally had the occasion and the courage to attempt such a feat. Having made cheesecake only twice in my life (the first being a total fail and the second being a cheats Nigella recipe) I was rather nervous and pawed over multiple cookbooks for tips, tricks, and ideas. There was a recipe in Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Ostro for a roasted fig and grape ricotta cheesecake and a recipe in Angela Redfern's Ripe Recipes - a fresh batch for a gingernut and rhubarb cheesecake. I kind of wanted both at the same time so I combined the two and wrote my own recipe. In hindsight this was an incredibly risky thing to do for someone who next to no cheesecake experience but I guess when a girl knows what she wants she just has to go out and get it.
I was once told that you had to bake a baked cheesecake in a water bath to prevent it from cracking on the top and if you did crack your cake you were a bad person and a failure. I think this is what gave me this idea that cheesecake was incredibly hard to make. I then thought about it and going to the faff of preventing cracks from forming when you are just going to cover it in all sorts of delicious topping is just a waste of time. Even if you aren't going to put anything on top who cares if there are cracks? It's cheesecake, it's comfort dessert, it's meant to be rustic and homely. I won't let those perfection pursuers put me off making something this damn delicious again!
A food processor and a standing cake mixer really help when it comes to making this. If you have neither then a plastic bag, a sturdy arm, and an electric hand beater will do the trick just fine. Patience is also required. This needs to sit in the fridge overnight for it to be sliceable so it definitely isn't an impulsive craving creation (unless of course you can predict your cravings). The relatively low sugar content within the filling itself really makes the creaminess of the ricotta sing as well as being a great complement to the tartness and sweetness of the rhubarb and caramel.
Rhubarb and Ricotta Baked Cheesecake
Makes one 23cm creation
250g Dutch spiced biscuits (speculoos)
250g cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
100g castor sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Salted caramel - recipe here
Sliced almonds and edible flowers to garnish
Line the bottom and a few centimetres up the sides of a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. Crush the biscuits in a food processor to a fine breadcrumb consistency and then whizz through the melted butter until evenly mixed. Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the prepared tin. Leave to set in the fridge while you do the next step.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius on bake. In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment whisk together the ricotta and cream cheese until reasonably smooth then whisk in the sugar, cream, flour, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk thoroughly between each addition. Scrape this mixture onto the chilled base and then bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Brown spots should start to appear and the cheesecake should be just set if wobbled gently. Leave to cool on the bench before leaving in the fridge overnight to fully set.
The next day heat the oven up to 180 degrees. Chop the rhubarb into 2-3cm pieces then toss in the sugar and vanilla then bake in a small dish for 30 minutes until soft. Leave to cool to room temperature before using. If making caramel now would be the time to make it (recipe here).
To assemble, run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake, remove the sides of the cake tin and carefully flip the cake onto your hand to remove the base and baking paper then flip again onto your serving plate. Whip together the cream and ricotta (and a touch of vanilla bean if you fancy) then spread that over the top of the cheesecake. Drizzle over some warm caramel and then top with the rhubarb pieces, flaked almonds and flowers if you fancy. Serve with more caramel on the side.
If you’re in need of a change up from regular hot steamed pudding on the big day or you just have some dry Christmas cake or steamed pudding sitting around that needs a home then this is the recipe for you.Read More
I am going to toot my own horn here and say that this is the best ice cream I have ever made.Read More
I first wrote about these date scones yonks ago. This was back when I had an iPhone 4 as a camera and long before having an eclectic and staged array of objects in the frame was fashionable. Recently I've made it my mission to write a cookbook and whilst my new images are no where near suitable it forces me to double check the recipes that I hold most dear. It also means Dylan's work gets a lot of morning tea.Read More
I used to think making brioche was a bit of a faff. The patience required to gradually and gently knead cubes of cold butter into the dough was enough to put me off the delicious breadstuff. It wasn't until my friend Cara pointed me in the direction of the brioche recipe in Ripe Recipes did my brioche world change.Read More
With our kitchen still covered in dishes from the night before and a hint of anchovy still lingering in the air, Dylan requested I make pancakes for breakfast this Labour day.Read More
I feel like panna cotta was one of those 'fancy' desserts our parents enjoyed in the early nineties so they will probably roll their eyes when they read how excited I am about this not so revolutionary dessert. Recently I've been seeing it crop up on menus around the place and flip it is delicious. Unlike most trends from the nineties (read: slip dresses, faux tattoo chokers, velvet) this is one that I am thrilled has made a comeback.Read More