Woo hoo. Finally a cake where I didn't over nor under cook. That in itself is cause for much celebration round here. Though, as usual, it did not go totally to plan. The plan being that I would serve it to dinner guests on Saturday night. I started baking the cheesecake at lunchtime on Saturday. Somewhere in the instructions, it specifies overnight refrigeration. Which is not unusual for cheesecakes. I swear that this bake along is actually a test for memory and brain function. And apparently my memory and brain function ain't what it used to be.
So, let it be known that you don't in fact, need to refrigerate overnight. You can definitely get away with about four to six hours in the fridge and no one will be any worse off for the experience. Apart from their waistlines, because this cheesecake is so seriously fantastic it is difficult to stop at just one slice.
I grew up eating cheesecakes that were the holy union of gelatin, condensed milk, cream cheese and a fridge. The result being overly sweet, very rich desserts with the best bit being the crumb base. There seems to be an overriding obsession about using the oven as little as possible when it comes to family pot luck dinners. This last trip back to family pot luck NZ, I ate green fluff with crushed pineapple and tiny marshmallow bits and I think maybe some rice. Not sure what that was - I didn't stop for the recipe, but I do know it contained alot of gelatin or instant pudding and it never saw the inside of an oven. Before you ask, I made a Plum Duff which was my Great Grandmother's recipe. I will hopefully do a post on the Plum Duff prior to Christmas.
This cheesecake is very sophisticated, and much more refined than the cheesecake of my youth. Even though it should definitely grace the family pot luck table, I am pretty sure it never will. You see, it spends some time inside an oven, enjoying the steamy depths of a water bath. I would take an oven water bath over dealing with gelatin any day of the week, but I guess that is just me.
The only slightly involved step in this recipe was boiling the pumpkin puree with the sugar. Apart from that, all you had to do was introduce food processor to ingredients in the right order. Rose's tip for pressing the crumbs into the base with a flat sided measuring cup was genius. My biscuit base has never been so thin and even. Personally, I like my biscuit base a little less oily so next time I will add the butter gradually to the biscuit and pecan crumbs.
The other great tip was to use a silicone pan to protect the springform pan. I have made Rose's Cake Bible baked cheesecake a few times and every time my tin foil shroud has let water into the cheesecake. I am not sure if it is healthy to be so excited about this addition to my baking tips repository? It certainly is better than the tip I got from my Great Aunt Betty to add a couple of tablespoons of instant pudding (doesn't matter which flavour!!) to my whipped cream to keep it from weeping. Rest assured that her tip is filed quite a distance from the top.
This was a very liquid cheesecake and a very small part of my brain did wonder if it would set. The larger part, dominated by Rose, assured me that this would be fail proof. And you know what... it was.
Before it went into the oven, it was looking pale and unassuming, nestled as it was amongst the pre dinner party detritus on my bench. When it emerged from 45 minutes in the very steamy and warmish oven and then an hour of post water bath recovery time it had taken on an orange glow.
It does amaze me how different the colour is pre and post baking.
In summary, this cheesecake will definitely go in the repeat pile. It is much lighter than the Cordon Rose Cream Cheesecake in the Cake Bible. For any non Americans - don't be put off by the thought of pumpkin in your cheesecake... the flavour is very subtle and I think it provides a gorgeous colour and texture to the cake.
Edited to add :: I didn't make the caramel, because after making the cheesecake and then getting everything ready for our dinner guests, the last thing I felt like doing was fiddling about making caramel - particularly because it usually takes me at least two attempts, one where to sacrifice to the cake gods and one to grace the final project. Maybe next time, since everyone's caramel looks fantastic.
Until next week, when we will be baking the Fruitcake Wreath. I candied some orange, ruby grapefuit (amazing flavour) and lemon peel last week and my fruit has been soaking nicely is some Captain Morgan Rum. I don't usually like nuts in my fruitcake, so with this one topping in at a massive 600 grams of nuts, the results should be interesting. I think Faithy and I will end up with similar posts re our dislike of pecans and walnuts...