Recipe: Bake Off star’s summery cheesecake

PUBLISHED: 13:03 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:20 29 May 2020

Dessert of dreams: Steph's strawberries and cream cheesecake. Photo: Steph Blackwell

Dessert of dreams: Steph's strawberries and cream cheesecake. Photo: Steph Blackwell

Steph Blackwell

Cheshire Life columnist Steph Blackwell shares her brilliant way to use up those seasonal strawberries

How is it almost summer? Time seems to have passed by so quickly, days have merged into weeks and I’ve experienced my fair share of ups and downs. I’ve made friends with nature, baked/cooked my way around the kitchen, done plenty of pointless chores around the house and garden & remastered some random creative skills… it hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies though; I’ve also spent days VERY unmotivated, sobbing into my sleeves whilst trying to get my head around the situation and what on earth the future holds – anyone else relate?

One thing I have found myself really missing over the past few months, has been sport. Whether you are a sports fan or not, I feel that the summer months, in particular, go hand in hand with major sporting events, be it charity runs, cricket, the Olympics, horse racing, motor racing, Wimbledon. I personally miss the anticipation, the nerves, the sportsmanship but also, I miss how sport unites us all; bringing us together socially - either at events or in our mutual support of teams and individuals.

Possibly quite ironically, I also find the summer and sport to be synonymous with certain (indulgent) foodie traditions; specifically; July, Wimbledon and strawberries & cream. How is it that a punnet of perfectly ripened aromatic British strawberries paired with the finest thick cream can bring so much pleasure?

I also love a great cheesecake in the summer… so fairly unsurprisingly, I’ve melded the two summer classics as a reminder of the joys of sport, summer & alfresco dining to bring you possibly the most addictive pudding you will eat (I’m not biased honest). This recipe is super simple, tried and tested, cheap and cheerful and doesn’t require flour or eggs (those ingredients we have all had difficulty sourcing of late). All you will need is a pack of biscuits, some cream cheese, a tub of cream, a little sugar and some good old British strawberries (if you can’t find decent fresh strawberries, you can opt for frozen, they are certainly a reasonable alternative.) Stay safe and enjoy

Strawberries & cream cheesecake

Ingredients

650g cream cheese

300ml double cream

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

2 tsp lemon juice

100g Icing sugar

For the biscuit base

300g Digestive biscuits

140g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing tin)

*ingredients make a thick base – it’s my favourite bit – if you prefer less base, use the extra for a couple of mini cheesecakes.

For the strawberry sauce

400g Strawberries

110g Caster sugar

Lemon

To decorate

Strawberries

Mint leaves

Cream, optional

Method

Grease and line the base of an 8- inch round spring form tin, grease the sides with a little more butter.

Measure out the butter and melt in the microwave or in a small saucepan over a low heat.

Crush the biscuits – place in a sealed freezer bag and use a rolling bin to bash or roll over the biscuits to form a fairly uniform fine crumb, transfer to a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter over the crushed biscuits and mix thoroughly. Tip the buttery biscuit mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly to form an even layer. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set for at least 1 hour – longer is fine.

Prepare the strawberry sauce. Hull and quarter the strawberries and transfer to a large sauce pan. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Place over a low/medium heat and stir to ensure the sugar is well distributed before bringing to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat and allow to bubble gently for around 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it isn’t catching and as the fruit starts to soften, crush it with a fork or masher. Once the sauce has visibly thickened – don’t worry if yours takes longer than 15 minutes - remove from the heat and whilst still warm, pass through a sieve, using the back of a spoon to push through – this can take a little time but get as much of the juice out of the mixture as you can*. You should end up with a minimum of 160g-200g of sauce once it has been sieved. If you’re worried that it is too thin – you can pop it back over the heat in a clean saucepan and reduce a little more. Set aside to cool fully before using – it should thicken up further!

Once the base has set firm, prepare the filling. Pour the double cream into a medium bowl and add the vanilla, whisk using an electric whisk (or stand mixer) until it forms medium to stiff peaks. Combine the cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon in a separate large bowl. Whisk for around two minutes until the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is smooth. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese and briefly whisk a final time ensuring the mixture is nice and thick and holds its shape.

Remove the biscuit base from the fridge, spoon over around a third of the cheesecake mixture, levelling with a palette knife before using a teaspoon to dot around 50g of strawberry sauce across the cream cheese layer, use a tooth pick to delicately drag blobs of the sauce and create a ripple effect – don’t agitate it too much or the colour will blend too much. Next, carefully dollop another third of the cheesecake mixture over the strawberry ripple in approximately four spoonful’s – top bottom and the sides; very gently drag the cream cheese over the ripple taking care not to blend the ripple beneath too much – even roughly with the palette knife or back of a spoon. Repeat the same ripple effect before adding the final third of cheesecake mixture using the same method as above. Level off neatly before transferring to the fridge for around 12 hours – preferably prepare the day before you wish to serve.

When you are ready to serve, use a sharp knife and run it around the outside edge of the cheesecake. Carefully release the springform tin. The edges of the cheesecake might look a little rough, you can neaten with a warm knife but the rough edges are quite nice. Drizzle or pipe the remainder of your strawberry sauce in a haphazard fashion across the top of the cheesecake. Slice a hand full of strawberries and scatter in the centre along with the mint leaves. Serve with a glass of fizz… more strawberries and maybe more cream cos… why NOT! Enjoy.

*TIP: keep the sticky mixture that is left in the sieve – it’s a seedy jam that you can slap on a piece of toast – waste not want not.

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