Basque Burnt Cheesecake (with or without Liquorice Sauce!)
When I was working in St Johns Wood, London, over 20 years ago, I used to visit, almost daily, the local patisserie (now sadly gone), and order a slice of their baked cheesecake. It was the here that I discovered the incredible creamy nature of a proper, baked, cheesecake. Since then I have always had a soft spot for baked cheesecake, but since becoming gluten free I have found it difficult to find those without a crumbed, wheat base. So, when a girlfriend raved about Nigella Lawson’s Basque Burnt Cheesecake, I was very pleased to discover that it was baked without a crumb base so is totally gluten free. I have now baked it on a number of occasions – it is my new addiction! It is not only delicious but incredibly easy to make, admittedly it doesn’t look as good as a traditional baked cheesecake, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving! Nigella recommends a liquorice sauce to complement it, I have included the recipe here, but unless you’re an avid liquorice lover, I actually don’t think you need it – it really is perfect on its own. However, if you do make the liquorice sauce, do also try it over vanilla ice-cream!
Nigella likes this cheesecake served at room temperature, but I must admit that I rather like it straight from the fridge, but either way it is wonderfully smooth and creamy.
A couple of notes before cooking it – make sure that the ingredients are at room temperature as this will give a smoother texture. Also, the tin should have sides which are no deeper that 6cm, as you want the cheesecake to rise up (and burn!). Finally, don’t be too fussed if the lining of the tin looks a little messy, it’s supposed to be a rough and ready ‘look’!
600g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
300ml sour cream, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
*20cm springform cake tin with sides no deeper than 6cm
- First of all you need to line your cake tin. This is simply a matter of taking two long pieces of baking parchment with enough length to fit into the tin with an overhang of 5-7cm. Press the first length down into the tin and then take the second piece and lay it across, perpendicularly, the first piece, so that the tin is completely lined. It will look messy and creased! I find that it helps to place something heavy in the tin to keep the paper in place until you need it.
- Using a mixer/processor, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until it is light and smooth – this should be done for quite some time – at least 3 minutes (if by chance you do mix it by hand it will need elbow grease and more time!).
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next. Then add the sour cream, continuing to beat the mixture to fully combine.
- Slow down the mixer to beat in the corn flour and finally beat in the salt.
- Before pouring the mixture into the cake tin, use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and give the mixture a final stir. Pour into the tin (having removed whatever you have used to weigh down the lining!!) and rap the tin a few times on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Place in an oven, 200’c fan, for 50 minutes, by which time it will have risen and be chestnut brown in places. It will, however, still seem undercooked and very ‘jiggly’ but do not be tempted to cook it for longer as it will set as it cools.
- Remove the tin to a rack and leave to cool. It will sink – it isn’t supposed to look pretty! After about 3 hours it will be cool enough to eat.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled from the fridge, as you prefer. To serve, unclip the sides and lift it up with the edges of the parchment. Place it on a plate with the parchment still around, peeling it back to cut into slices. If using, serve the liquorice sauce on the side (recipe below).
If you are a liquorice lover, this sauce from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’, is definitely a ‘must try’. It’s a good accompaniment to the Basque Burnt Cheesecake (above), but is also wonderful simply spooned over vanilla ice-cream! It will keep well in the fridge.
*You can get the liquorice pellets from good Italian delis or online at Amazon – I used Amarelli Spezzata.
15g hard pure Italian liquorice pellets
90g caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt (optional)
- Put the pellets in a small saucepan with 300ml water. Stir in the sugar. Place over a low heat until the liquorice has melted – giving it a stir now and again.
- Now turn up the heat and let it bubble away until it has reduced to about 150ml and is syrupy – this can take up to 20 minutes.
- Taste, adding a pinch of salt if you desire before serving.