Homemade Baked Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe: Sans Cream Cheese

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Have you ever watched those Disney cartoons where when a pie or a cake is made, everyone's watching it come out of of the oven? And when it's out to be cooled, there's a good chance it could disappear from the window sill? Then, someone gets into all sorts of shenanigans to figure out who it was?

Well, that's all true for me IRL!

Me swatting at hands with a spatula trying to keep them away from the food being cooked. Me, explaining for the fifth time in three minutes why we need the cookies to be cooled first. And then me, finding an empty pan in place of a seven and a half pound cake, 12 hours after baking it!

The only difference between my life and those cartoons are, these are all adults! Some of them, senior citizens even. Forgetting their diets and their diabetes, everyone wants to just indulge for a little bit.

It's not like I live in a house full of people. If only! I honestly am not sure how but friends, neighbors, and family tend to show up just at the right moments. Some have even admitted that they can smell cheesy bread baking from the street and, then just follow the aroma.


Suffice to say, all of this is great for my ego and, to quote a friend of mine, "it's a good problem to have".

Why am I telling you all of this, quite indignantly? Well, it's a sort of cautionary tale in case you were hoping to make your cake and eat it too. In fact, while I was making this cheesecake, I had to glare at a few people to let me take pictures and not ask me for a slice.

Now, onto the recipe.

This was an experiment gone good! This is a baked vanilla cheesecake that does not use cream cheese. Instead we whip together buttermilk, heavy milk cream, and a slice of cheese with a splash of brandy to support the wholesome flavor that just engulfs your palate and is sure to make you moan. (Cue: "I'll have what she's having")

Why brandy? While trying out a different experiment, I found that milk cream and brandy in the right proportions and temperature open up a unique flavor palette. Try this and you'll see how.

This recipe also doesn't make excuses. Meaning, it is very rich! And wholesome, and melts in your mouth, and... okay. Stop.

For the crust, I used a mix of cookie crumbs and 'Rusk' biscuit (or twice-baked bread) that's very popular in India. Rusk biscuit isn't actually sweet and the texture remains crumbly and crunchy even when it comes in contact with liquids. (Which is probably why it's so popular as a tea-time snack in India where people like to dip their biscuits in chai). And, why it's perfect for the flowy custard filling we have for this recipe. I had too much of the crust mix and so I went up the sides because I didn't want a thick bottom crust in a cheesecake. But, the amounts mentioned in the recipe below have been changed so you don't have to go through that.

As you can see from the pictures (hassled though it may have been), I used a whisk to mix all of this (lazy, I know) which you shouldn't do for a cheesecake. Just use a mixing spoon or wooden spatula and the strength from those Pilates classes to bring it all together. Also, I didn't use too much butter for the crust which is why it looks like it's falling apart. I corrected it to the right proportion in the recipe.

Oh, and one more thing. Because I added lime, you might think this is a lime-flavored cheesecake. But, it isn't because that one lime goes to adding acidity to all that heavy cream instead of adding its own flavor to the dish.

Another thing! I didn’t add any toppings, but you know what? I’m going to make this again and we can then explore the best kind of topping for this. What say?

Okay. Now, I am done. I present to you:

Homemade Baked Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe by Ray


Makes One 9-inch Round Vanilla Plain Cheesecake
Serves 8, very generously

Equipment
  • One 9-inch Springform baking pan
  • Baking parchment paper / Cooking spray
  • A medium-sized zip-lock bag
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Tap water
  • A large baking tray
  • Grater
  • Wooden spatula
  • Cooking thermometer (optional)
  • One large mixing bowl
  • Two ingredient bowls
  • One saucepan
  • A stove burner
  • A baking convection oven
  • A measuring cup
Ingredients

For the crust:
  • 100g Rusk Toast Biscuit
  • 75g Unsalted Butter at room temperature
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 50 grams Powdered Sugar (White or Brown)
  • Cardamom Seeds from 4 pods, ground or pounded

    For the filling:
    • 9 egg yolks
    • 150 grams or 2/3 cups of White Granulated Sugar
    • 300ml of Heavy Milk Cream
    • 17 grams or 2 tablespoons or 1-2 slices of Cheddar Cheese
    • 4 tablespoons of Brandy
    • 150 ml of Buttermilk 
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 Lime 
    • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract 

    Procedure

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius or 350F and set a wire rack that’s second farthest from the oven flame. 
    2. Prepare the springform pan by lining it with parchment paper or use a cooking spray. I prefer to cut the paper round to the size of the pan and then line the sides with strips of paper. But you could also go cross-wise across the center of the pan and let the excess stand to line the walls of the pan. 
    3. In a zip-lock bag, add in the Rusk toast biscuits (and any cookie crumbs from the bottom of the cookie jar) and close the bag, making sure to get all the air out first. Lay it down flat and use a spatula or rolling pin to whack the bag until it becomes granulated and looks like sand. 
    4. Pour it into a bowl, and add in the sugar, a pinch of salt, ground cardamom seeds, and the unsalted butter. Mix it well. I get in there with my hands until it’s all integrated and looks like wet sand (#BeachVacation).
    5. Add the rusk-mix to your prepared pan and use a wooden spatula to spread it evenly 
    6. Now, carefully move the pan to the preheated oven and bake it at 180 degree celsius or 350F for 10 minutes. 
    7. While the crust is baking in the oven, pour the heavy cream into a saucepan and set it on the stove at low to medium flame. Don’t stir. Let it heat up until you see the first signs of any bubbles around the edges or around 45 degree celsius, if you are using a candy thermometer. Switch off the burner and add in one slice of cheddar cheese and mix for about 10 seconds until it melts into the warm cream. Keep it aside to cool. 
    8. In another bowl, add in buttermilk and about a half teaspoon of salt. Then, use a grater and gently grate the peel of the whole lime and add the zest into the bowl. Cut the lime and squeeze all the juice into the buttermilk mix.. It should be about 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
    9. In a large mixing bowl, add 9 egg yolks, two-third cups of white granulated sugar, and beat vigorously until it looks pale yellow. 
    10. Your crust should be ready by now. In a large baking tray, place some aluminum foil that’s large enough to cover the area of the pan. Take the pan out of the oven - keep the oven on - and place it on top of the aluminum foil and fold the edges of the foil onto the pan. This is to make sure none of the water goes into pan accidentally. Let it cool in a well-ventilated area. 
    11. While the crust is cooling, quickly add the brandy to the creamy cheesy mix in the saucepan and mix thoroughly. And, add this to the bowl with the egg-sugar mix. Mix well.
    12. To the large mixing bowl, add in the buttermilk gradually as you keep mixing it in. It’ll look runny but not to worry. Make sure you integrated all the ingredients properly. 
    13. Add the vanilla extract and give it another round of stirring in. 
    14. Now, pour your filling mixture into the pan with the prepared crust and add tap water into the baking tray until it’s about an inch high. Put the tray in the oven, first for 20 minutes and then, lower the temperature of 160 degree celsius or 320 fahrenheit for another 20 minutes. 
    15. The cheesecake should be set but a little wobbly at the center when you shake the tray slightly. Switch off the oven but keep the door open and let it cool in there for about an hour. 
    16. Then, move it to the refrigerator and cool for a few hours or overnight before serving. Add a topping of your choice or eat it plain. It’s yum!  

    Serves 8 or just you. :-)
    ...oo0oo...

    ~Ray




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