Life’s a Feast: Rustic orange cheesecake

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Baked cheesecake can seem daunting to the home cook, with fears of cracking on the surface, sinking in the centre or curdling of the mix.

Cheesecake is essentially a set custard but made with cream cheese and/or mascarpone instead of milk. Key things to remember to ensure a successful dessert are to only use ingredients at room temperature, to make sure you use a blender to combine cream cheese and egg mix, and do not over-bake or it will cause cracking.

Finally, zhoosh the cheesecake up a little. I have surrounded it with whipped cream and squeezed over a little orange juice and some passionfruit.

As a final touch, scatter some edible flowers and some orange zest.

PREP TIME: 15-20 mins

COOK TIME: 50 mins

SERVES: 8 people

Ingredients

Base

200g digestive biscuits

75g unsalted butter

Zest of half an orange

Filling

550g cream cheese (room temp)

250g mascarpone (room temp)

200g caster sugar

3 large eggs (or four smaller ones)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/4 teaspoon ground star anise

3 tablespoons flour

Garnish

300ml cream

1 passionfruit

Juice of an orange

Zest of half an orange

Edible flowers

Method

1.Pre-heat the oven to 160degC.

2.For the base, melt the butter in a pan. Put the biscuits in a food processor and whizz until it’s a crumb texture. Add the orange zest, then turn on the blender and pour in the butter. Whizz until combined and the mixture starts sticking together.

3.Take about a 20cm diameter, loose-bottomed tin and tip in the crumb mix. Press the crumb base down firmly and evenly on to the bottom of the tin. Pop into the fridge to set.

4.For the filling, combine the cream cheese, mascarpone and caster sugar in a bowl and using a hand-held blender whisk until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined (alternatively rinse out your blender and use that).

5.Next, one by one add the eggs, then vanilla and star anise, and whisk until the whole mixture is completely smooth. Sprinkle in the flour and stir through with a wooden spoon.

6.Remove the base from the fridge and pour in the mixture ensuring the mix is even and smooth across the top.

7.Place on to an oven tray and pop into the oven for 50 minutes (possibly a little longer) or until the cheesecake is set. Remember don’t over-cook or you will get cracking, so no more than 55 minutes.

8.Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the tin. Once cooled, whip the cream then turn the cheesecake out on to a plate. Dollop the cream on to the cheesecake and spread evenly over the surface.

9.Spoon out the passionfruit and drizzle evenly over the cream. Juice the orange and drizzle over the cream too. Sprinkle over the edible flowers and orange zest and serve immediately.