Let’s talk cheesecake. There are two sorts, the no-bake refrigerator cheesecake that I used to be slightly adverse to (because of the gelatine… but I’m much better now, thank you), and the baked cheesecake, which is this golden sun of a cake, custardy and wobbly from the oven, firming up into dense creaminess in the fridge. However, I don’t bake cheesecakes very often, mainly because they can be a tad too cloying and rich… With the exception of the meringue-based Japanese cheesecake, which I’ve been trying to perfect… and this.
The first time I had a ricotta cheesecake, it was from a quaint bakery along one of the narrow, cobbled streets of Venice. Feeling a bit hesitant and mostly overwhelmed by the array of sweets and pastries in the display (so many! They all look so good! HOW DO I EVEN….), I asked the friendly baker for a recommendation.
“This. This is torta di ricotta. Try it, it’s very good.”
I gratefully accepted the rectangular slice; it looked like a regular baked cheesecake, studded with rum-soaked sultanas, and then I took a bite. And another. And another. And another. And I ordered another slice.
As you can guess, it was pretty dang good!! It was creamy, but not too rich, sweet in the mildest way, and so fresh and totally light on the palate. I dream about it every now and then, but it seems like my memory is a bit rusty because that was two years ago, and I’ve only just baked my first ricotta cheesecake! We had K’s family over in London for dinner one night, and after a pulled-pork-roasties-coleslaw do, this cheesecake ended everything on a fresh, sweet, note. I’ve chosen to use strawberries because this season’s strawberries are too beautiful, but I can imagine it’ll go down a treat plain, or with rum-soaked sultanas. Family and good food make the best summer nights!
A little note before starting:
It’s the first time I’ve used ricotta in… well, ever. I’ve never used it before, but I think it’s a beautiful, mild cheese. It is wet though, and that means sogginess. I admit the gingersnap base on this cake was a bit too wet, so I’ve tweaked the recipe a little to incorporate a longer baking time at a higher temperature for the crust, as well as an egg wash coat to ‘waterproof’ the base. I believe draining the ricotta overnight in the fridge would also help, so I’m definitely doing that the next time! Also, this is not pure ricotta cheesecake… There is still a percentage of cream cheese to maintain a creamier texture, as ricotta can get grainy.
Strawberry Ricotta Cheesecake
Makes 1 standard loaf
- 40g Melted Butter
- 7 Ginger Snaps
- 250g Drained Ricotta
- 150g Cream Cheese
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 130g Caster Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla paste
- 1 Tbs Cornflour+1 Tbs Water
- 5-7 strawberries, halved
- More strawberries, to serve
1. Drain the ricotta overnight in the fridge in a cheesecloth on a sieve. You want the ricotta as dry as possible.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C
3. Crush ginger snaps and mix with the melted butter. Press into the base of a lined loaf tin and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Brush the baked base with a thin coat of beaten egg. This prevents the base from becoming too soggy. bake for a further 3 minutes. Remove the tin to let cool completely and turn the temperature down to 150°C.
4. Whisk ricotta and cream cheese till creamy. Add the sugar and mix completely.
5. Add the rest of the beaten egg and vanilla, and whisk till smooth.
6. Dissolve the cornflour in the water to form a slurry and add to the mixture. Mix completely.
7. Arrange the strawberry halves on top of the pre-baked base and pour the cheese mixture over.
8. Bake in a shallow water bath for 55 mins-1 hr, until the top is light golden but the middle still has a slight wobble.
9. Turn of the heat, and let the cake sit in the oven with the door closed to slowly cool (about 45 mins, or a hour). Sharp changes in temperature can cause the cake to sink (gasp! no!)
10. Refrigerate overnight, or, if you’re in a rush like myself, stick it into the freezer for about 2 hours. But don’t leave it in there for too long, lest you end up with a frozen block!