• Gesine

Sour Cherry Topped New York Style Cheesecake

A met a friend face to face for the first time a few weeks ago. I'd only known her through the interwebs, even though she lived just a towns away. She brought over a giant bag of sour cherries from her overburdened tree. She'd pitted every single tiny cherry. She is now officially known in the Prado household as the cherry fairy.



The tart of the cherry was calling for the dense, creaminess of my favorite style of cheesecake. New York, baby! I have a thing for textural contrasts, so I lined the bottom of the cake pan with a press-in shortbread that I blind baked so that it was stay crisp when the batter was added. I then topped the shortbread with a round of spongy cake before adding the cheesecake batter. Pure summer perfection.



For the cake layer

1 cup/120 grams all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

6 tablespoons/85 grams (3 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup/99 grams sugar

1 large egg plus one egg yolk, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup/78 ml buttermilk, room temperature



-Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease the bottom of an 8” cake pan (for best results, use a 3” high pan) with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Line with a round of parchment, making sure to keep the sides of the pan are oil/grease free. Set aside.


-In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.


-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. Mix until light and fluffy, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl a few times during the mixing process. The butter/ sugar mixture should be 3x to 4x lighter in color than it began and the mixture should look light and fluffy and increased in volume.


-Add the whole egg and then the yolk, mixing well between each addition and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl between each addition.


-With the mixer running on low, add half the flour mixture and then all the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remainder of the flour. Mix until just combined, stop and mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and then increase the speed to high for just a few seconds to smooth out the batter.


-Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently poked (or the internal temperature of the cake reads 210ºF). Allow the cake to sit in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out. Use a paring knife to release the sides of the cake and turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. Clean the pan, grease the bottom and sides of the pan and line the bottom with parchment. Keep the oven on.


For the shortbread crust

1 cup/120 grams all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)

½ cup/56 grams confectioner’s sugar

3 ounces/85 grams unsalted butter, cold

hearty pinch salt


-In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt. Using the largest holes of a box grater, grate the butter into the mixing bowl and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture looks like rough cornmeal and the mixture holds together when pinched between your fingers.

Press the mixture into the prepared 8” pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is just starting to brown.



For the cheesecake batter

3 (8 ounce/226 gram) packages of whole fat cream cheese (I use Cabot), at room temperature

1 ¼ cups/247 grams sugar

¼ cup/28 grams cornstarch

2/3 cup/157 ml heavy cream, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest one lemon

hearty pinch sea salt


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Mix on medium-low speed until smooth and combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl a few times during mixing.


Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the cornstarch and mix on low to combine.


With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, zest, and salt and mix until the mixture is smooth and combined.


TIPS AND TRICKS:

•Make sure the cream cheese is, at the very least, at room temperature to insure that the batter will not have chunks of unincorporated cream cheese.

•Keep the mixing speeds in the lower range to keep from creating bubbles in the batter that will rise as the cheesecake is baking and create bumps on the surface of the cheesecake.

-If the batter still has cream cheese lumps, run the batter through a fine sieve.



To assemble

-Take ¼ cup of the cheesecake batter and spread it over the shortbread layer and then place the cake layer on top, pressing gently to adhere. Pour the remaining cheesecake batter into the pan and gently tap the pan to pop any air bubbles trapped in the batter.

Place the cake pan into a larger baking dish to create a bain marie. Pour hot water into the baking dish so that the water reaches a littler higher than half way up the cake pan. Carefully transfer the dish to the oven (if it’s easier for you, add the water with the cake pan and baking dish already on the oven rack). Be careful not to get any water into the cheesecake pan.


-Bake at 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes or until the cheesecake wiggles just a bit in the middle. Turn off the oven and open the oven doors slightly to release the heat slowly. Only take out the cheesecake when the cake pan can be handled without an oven mitt. The cheesecake should have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cheesecake, still in the pan, for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.


-When ready to serve the cake, place a piece of parchment on top of the cake and then place a plate or cardboard round over the parchment. Turn the cake pan upside down and, using a blow dryer or kitchen torch, heat the bottom of the cake pan to help release the bottom of the cake. Gently tap the bottom of the pan to release the cake. Place a cardboard round or cake platter upside down onto the bottom crust and then flip the cheesecake right side up and gently pull away the parchment on top.


TIPS AND TRICKS:

•I use a traditional cake pan, not a springform, to bake my cheesecake to guarantee that there’s no chance that water from the bain marie will seep into the cake pan and saturate the cake. If you have had luck covering your springform with foil without any water getting in, feel free to bake the cheesecake this way.

•Make sure that the cheesecake has completely cooled in the fridge before you release it from a traditional cake pan so that the cake is completely firm and set, and the top is firm enough that it will stay put when it’s turned upside down onto parchment.

•The use of the bain marie, slow cooling, and low mixing speeds help keep the cheesecake from splitting on top. Be patient.

•To keep the top of the cheesecake from over-browning, tent the top of the pan with foil. Make sure the foil doesn’t touch the surface of the batter. To make this more fool proof, use a baking dish that’s higher than the cake pan with the cheesecake batter.


For the sour cherry topping

2 cups sour cherries, pitted

½ cup/99 grams sugar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch salt

in a saucepan, combine the cherries, water, sugar, and salt. Stir constantly over medium heat until the liquids have thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Take from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a heat safe jar and refrigerate until cool.

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