I cannot recall a baking project that has left me with as much of a sense of accomplishment as June’s cheesecake Relishments Bakes project.
Though the challenge was totally open to simpler recipes featuring cheesecake, I wanted to be as traditional as possible. I opted to go with Smitten Kitchen’s New York Cheesecake, which looked delicious and about as standard a cheesecake as one could find.
This is not a health food recipe – it used 8 tablespoons of butter in the crust and 5 (yes, 5, blocks of full-fat cream cheese), 5 eggs and 2 yolks. I didn’t skimp on any ingredients or make any changes because I believe in following recipes the first time you make them, I didn’t want to mess up this cheesecake and I had no intentions of being healthy.
I made my graham cracker crumbs in the food processor, making them as fine as possible. When I pushed the crumb mixture into my 9-inch springform pan (I don’t own a nine and a half inch), I was concerned that the crust was too dry and wouldn’t hold together, but since Smitten Kitchen has never steered me wrong, I decided to go with it. I put it in the freezer while I made the filling.
My biggest concern while making the filling was making sure all of the ingredients were evenly combined. Thankfully, the June weather ensured that my cream cheese was very soft. I followed the directions for adding each egg individually and it looked great, both in the mixing bowl and poured into the pan.
Since I wasn’t sure what kind of non-stick coating was on my springform pan, I decided not to bake the cheesecake at the full temperature of 550 degrees. Instead, I started it at 400. There’s lots of discussion about baking temperatures in the actual recipe and comments, but in my case, the lower temperature totally worked out. After 12 minutes, as instructed, I dropped the temperature of the oven to 200 degrees. After an hour and 10 minutes, the cake seemed mostly firm and it was removed from the oven.
My cheesecake did have a couple of cracks and I know that’s a big issue for a lot of cheesecake bakers, but I wasn’t concerned. Cracked cheesecake still tastes good, and the cherry topping would cover it up.
I waited until the next day to make the cherry topping, mostly out of scheduling conflicts. The topping was extremely easy to put together (I used frozen cherries) and though I was concerned that it was too thin, that too worked out in the end especially after refrigeration.
The next day, I removed the springform from around the pan and was thrilled to see how well the crust held together. I didn’t take the cake off the bottom of the pan, for fear that it would crumble. Serving it straight from the pan seemed to work out fine. We poured the topping over the cake and, after I took way too many photos, enjoyed it thoroughly.
I was really concerned about this Relishments Bakes -it seemed like so much could go wrong. But it was actually less difficult and far more successful than I anticipated. I’m not sure when I’ll be in need of cheesecake again, but I’d definitely revisit Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.
Stay tuned for the next challenge soon!