Monday, July 19, 2010

A kitchen experiment: homemade cream cheese in a baked cheesecake

A few days ago, I decided to put some homemade cream cheese through the ultimate test - baking! I still had my doubts, not thinking that it would perform as well as the solid brick available at supermarkets. I'm not sure why I thought this, but I needed to try it out to see for myself...

Firstly, I made up a batch of yoghurt with 2 litres of UHT milk warmed slightly in a casserole dish in the microwave until just lukewarm. This was good, because it also warmed the dish as well. After adding the yoghurt starter to the milk, I wrapped the whole pot in a large towel and placed it near the fireplace overnight. The next morning, the yoghurt was drained, at first hanging from a prop on the bench and then later, in a cloth lined sieve set over a bowl in the fridge. It had a total draining time of 24 hours, by which time I had a fairly solid lump of cheese.

When it comes to cheesecakes, I don't make them very often.... mainly because I would be the one who would end up eating most of it and do I really need all of those extra kilos? Hmm, not at all! However, I do think they are a good recipe to have up your sleeve, especially for family/friend gatherings when you can cut yourself a small sliver and share the rest around, watching the whole cake get eaten up and not be wasted. So, it was back to the books. Being after a baked cheesecake recipe, not a refridgerated type, I discovered most recipes are all pretty much the same..the ratio of cream cheese to eggs are very similar and then additions like sugar and flavourings are added.

I decided to keep it simple for my first attempt at this "homemade cream cheese cheesecake". The following ingredients were what I ended up using...

450g homemade cream cheese(it's all I had, and according to my calculations, I needed 500g!)
50g thickened pouring cream, to make up the 500g of cheese
2/3 cup or 160g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs

I placed the cream cheese in the small bowl of my electric mixer and switched it on to a med..med/high setting, and beat the cheese until it was smooth. The cream was added, along with the caster sugar and beaten well. The eggs which had been lightly beaten, were added slowly and finally the vanilla extract. The mixture was then poured into a 'cookie crumbed and buttered' springform tin (8 1/2 inch), and baked at 150c for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (can't be sure how long exactly as I was in and out of the kitchen). The cake set firmly around the edges first, then puffed up a little towards the end of baking time, similar to a quiche, until finally the center had set. It developed a few cracks around the edges on the top due to the 'puff effect', but these dropped back down again after the cake had cooled, which took about 2 hours at room temp (ideally in the oven with the door ajar), and then several hours in the fridge. Perhaps I'll reduce the oven temperature slightly next time, to try and avoid the cracks.



I was quite pleased with the cheese part of the cake, but not so much with my base....next time I think I'll make a pastry base to avoid the crumbiness that I encountered.

We had some leftover blackberries from summer pickings and these were made into a simple coulis to go with the cake:

450g of frozen blackberries were washed, drained and placed into a pot over med-low heat and left to heat until the seeds and flesh had seperated and the juices were running freely. They were then passed through a food mill on the finest disc and then sieved through a nylon sieve before being returned to the pot. About 4tbs of sugar were added to the puree, and it was simmered over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture had reduced and thickened and was just starting to catch on the bottom of the pot. Then it was into a squeezy bottle and into the fridge.

So, how was it, you ask? Well...as I said, I was really happy with the cheesey part, but next time would add some lemon zest or juice to zing it up, as it was a little on the bland side. Texture wise it was lovely and smooth, and not heavy at all...I was actually amazed that it set..which was what my main curiosity was.


The blackberry coulis was a good addition, very berrylicious.

I'll definitely use the made from scratch cream cheese again in baking. It's great to know that the homemade version performs just as well, if not better than the shop bought variety.

13 comments:

  1. Christine, that looks delicious! Am I correct in thinking your homemade cream cheese is the same as what I was calling labneh? It's so good to know it can be used for baking like this. Just brilliant, thank you. :)

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  2. Fantastic!...I'm so glad you tried this. I too was contemplating using it in a cheesecake. Must say yours looks devine, especially the berry coulis.

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  3. Yes, Celia, I believe they are both called the same thing, labneh, cream cheese, quark. I'm really pleased that it didn't dissapoint, which was what I was prepared for! :)

    It was curiosity that got me going, Lisa, and it's satisfying knowing that a cheesecake can be made without a trip to the supermarket (which I try and avoid as much as I can!) :)

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  4. Oh yes! What a great idea and it worked. I have labneh too, just made some yesterday, don't know how much is left as I have been eating on toast with jam, telling myself it's less fattening than butter..

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  5. Just letting you know I love your blog so much that I gave you a Sunshine Blog Award. You can check it out at my blog. Thanks for your inspiration

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  6. That looks tip top. Looks lovely and light, presentation gorgous! Keep going with your kitchen experiments :-)

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  7. Christine that cheesecake looks devine and how simple that was to make your cream cheese l must give this ago, do you think it could be used in a refrigerated cheesecake?

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  8. On toast with jam sounds wonderful, Joanna, and what a good thing to tell yourself. That's my problem too...it seems to get eaten up before it can be used for anything else, quite frustrating, actually! :)

    Thankyou, Maree Rose! :)

    It was surprisingly light, Brydie..and experiments especially kitchen experiments are just so much fun, aren't they!

    Lol, dixiebelle :)

    I was wondering the same thing, Julie. I don't see why not :)

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  9. Congrats on your experiment. I so want to try this. Yum! Regarding the cracking...trying baking in a water bath next time. This should eliminate the problem.

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  10. Thanks, Marnie, I'll give this a go. As it was baked in a springform tin, I'm guessing I'll need to wrap the outside of the tin with foil to stop the water from penetrating... :o)

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  11. I just love creative people like you who do all the work and leave the rest of us fine recipes.
    Tahnks

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  12. I'm going to have to give this a try, but I am going to use whole cream milk with mesophilic culture and rennet, then mill the cheese with iodized salt to make the cream cheese. I like the idea of using the water bath while baking it.

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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