Happy Valentines Day Everyone! Or as they say in Italy, Buon San Valentino! I hope you woke up to something wonderful this morning or better yet, someone. There’s a million and one ways to say I love You on Valentines Day, I like to say it with cake.
Soufflè cheesecake! I’ve yet to eat a cheesecake such as this. Mere words are not enough for this cake. I remember in one of his books, Gordon Ramsay, before sharing his New York Cheesecake recipe, stated that if there’s one thing Americans have got right, it’s their New York Cheesecake. As I read those words I vividly recall saying to myself, if New York Cheesecake had a mentor the Soufflè Cheesecake has got to be it!
It is my favourite of ALL cheesecakes. While it’s also a baked cheesecake, it leads in the category of soft, delicate and light. It’s unbelievably creamy yet not dense on the palette, beautifully melting with every mouthful just like a soufflé. It falls in the no-base variety and is satisfaction on a cake plate eaten as is, with a light dusting of confectioners sugar. Naturally if you wanted to turn into something extra special, you could serve it with fresh berries or a berry compote.
I love this cake. It’s dreamy. The first time I made it for Enrico it was our second wedding anniversary and he loved it so much that we finished it at breakfast. On our way back that afternoon from our outing, he told me how he’d never eaten something so wonderful and how he wishes he had saved a piece for dessert. As soon as we arrived home, I grabbed my apron and sought to make his little dream come true. I fondly remember us sitting at opposite ends of each other, during dessert and just smiling, not saying a word but simply brimming with glee. It’s astonishing how a cake could make two people so happy.
That’s why I’m sharing this particular recipe today. It’s my gift of love to you. A gift that keeps on giving ’cause once you try it you’ll be sure to do it again and again, putting joy in the hearts of those you love.
Here’s wishing you an extra sweet Valentines Day!
A special Valentines wish to my Darling Mum. Mum, Happy Valentines Day! Even though you’re spending it in hospital, know that you are surrounded by so much love, today and always. A big kiss! We love you.
- 200g cream cheese
- 50ml whole milk
- 50ml fresh cream
- 40g soft butter (unsalted)
- 3 eggs
- 40g regular cake flour
- 1tbs cornflour
- 80g castor sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- confectioners sugar for dusting
- To begin ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature and read the Notes below. For this recipe it is advisable to bake without the use of the fan. If it’s not possible to manually switch off the fan, follow the instructions below for preheating.
- Prepare a 20cm springform cake tin by greasing and lining the base and sides on inside of the tin with parchment paper. Allow for parchment paper on the sides to be longer than the actual height of the tin so that the cake will keep it’s shape whilst rising. Next line the outside of the base with heavy duty aluminium foil. The foil should not tear at any point and should come half way up the sides of the tin. This cake will be baked in a water bath so the foil is essential to keep water from seeping into the cake so double check that the base is tightly wrapped.
- Separate eggs and set aside.
- Combine flours, sift and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add cream cheese and butter (butter must be soft but not melted) and whisk until smooth.
- Add cream and milk and whisk again until all the ingredients are homogenised.
- Whisk in one egg yolk at a time into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.
- Add flour in two batches whisking after each addition and ensure to clean the sides of the bowl while whisking.
- Once all the flour has been incorporated add the lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla and combine.
- Preheat oven to 150°C gas fan / 160°C electric fan / 180°C conventional. Place a baking dish large enough to hold the cake tin inside the oven.
- In a separate and grease free bowl with a grease free whisk, begin whisking the egg whites.
- Once the whites start to foam, (1 minute medium speed) incorporate half of the sugar and beat until sugar dissolves (2 minutes) before incorporating the other half while continuously whisking.
- When the meringue reaches soft peak stage (see Maestros Need to Know) it is ready for the next step.
- Mix in 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the cream cheese mixture until combined.
- Then fold in the remaining meringue mixture into the cream cheese mixture in two halved batches. By folding only half at a time, folding becomes easier and retains more air bubbles.
- Once all the meringue has been gently folded in, the result should be light and airy.
- Pour batter into prepared cake tin, smooth out evenly, and give the tin two hard knocks onto a hard surface to deflate big air bubbles.
- Open the oven and pour hot water 1/3rd of the way into the oven proof dish before placing the cake tin in the centre of the dish. Reduce temperature by 20 degrees.
- Bake for 60 minutes.
- Reduce temperature by 20° and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Switch off the oven after baking time and leave the cake inside with the door ajar for a further 20 minutes. The cake should be slightly golden on top with no sign of wobbling.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 20 minutes, before opening the tin.
- Set the cake onto a cake plate and cool completely.
- Dust with confectioners sugar.
- Serve fresh berries or a berry compote.
Maestros Need to Know *Before baking the cake remember to turn the heat down 20°. The reason the oven is preheated at a higher temperature than that of the baking is to ensure that when the oven door is opened to place the cake in to bake, the temperature will not drop BELOW the recommended baking temperature. *If using a spring form tin for this recipe you will have to ensure that bottom and sides of the tin are wrapped properly in aluminium foil to make the cake tin water proof. *When separating the eggs it is advisable to run the eggs under warm tap water for a few seconds. This will help to break the proteins in the whites so seperating becomes easier. This will help the whites pull away from the yolks before it is even cracked. Then place the whites in the refrigerator to cool until needed. *Again when separating eggs ensure that yolks never mix into the whites. If they do, the whites will not be permissible for the use of meringue making. This is the same reason why both mixing bowl and whisk MUST be grease free. Grease in any form, prevents the whites from forming the air pockets necessary to make meringue. *The reason this meringue is beaten to soft peak stage and not further than that is to prevent the cake forming large cracks when baking. To check for soft peak stage, lift the beater from the meringue and if the peaks rise and fall back and do not stand stiff, then it is ready for the next step. *The only raising agent in this cake is the meringue. Once the meringue has been made, you must pay careful attention to how you incorporate it into the cream cheese mixture. If it's beaten vigorously the air bubbles will collapse. That's why folding is recommended when incorporating meringue mixtures into bases. These wonderful air bubbles will allow the cake to stay up and not collapse whilst baking. The reason 1/3 of the meringue is added first and mixed well before the folding process, is to ensure that the base is not too heavy. By lightening the base with part of the meringue first, essentially folding becomes easier. This technique should always be used in the future. *A water bath or bain marie is recommended for this cake because the vapour from the water will ensure that the cake does not dry out during the lengthy baking process. Resulting in a nice moist texture. *Finally do not be hasty to remove the cake from the oven. By switching off the oven and leaving the door ajar you are ensuring that the vast difference in air temperature does not cause the cake to shrink drastically. Basically it is the same concept as baking Pavlova. Both these recipes have the similar baking instructions because it is meringue based. By allowing the temperature to change gradually, you are ensuring the cake will keep its shape for longer. Soufflè is also meringue based and therefore it is baked right before serving and served immediately BEFORE it begins to shrink.