This story begins and ends with me eating cake for breakfast so, if you get worried along the way, be safe in the knowledge that everything will be ok.
On cheesecake and fat
If you are going to eat cheesecake just accept that it should be full fat. You can try to mess with it, go low-fat, but honestly … why bother? It’s cheesecake.
I’m not going to get into the pro/con argument over fat, there are plenty of people leading that particular charge just fine on their own, but keep in mind that when fat is removed sugar or fillers are usually added in its place.
That said, I do tend to be careful with dairy fat as my family has a history (and by history I mean pretty much every person over the age of 40) of heart disease and high cholesterol. However as I avoid cow dairy 90% of the time a very occasional slice of cheesecake it isn’t too big of an issue.
Now don’t get me wrong, if it’s an aversion to all dairy overall there is nothing wrong with vegan cheesecake — although I’ll warn you it isn’t particularly low-fat either.
On kitchen fails and crazy combinations
I made this cake twice.
The first one, baked yesterday morning, looked ok if a bit wonky… so I staged and photographed it. But as I made the first cut I knew it wasn’t right. The texture was all wrong, grainy and dense. It would be ok sliced on a sandwich, but as dessert? Meh.
What happened? I think it was a combination of things — I’d tried to make it lower in fat (see point one, ahem) with half of the ricotta a skim version, and labne made from 2% greek yoghurt (albeit really good stuff without milk solids or sugar) instead of mascarpone. I beat the yolks until they were thick and light giving the cake extra rise as it baked, but with little fat and no starch to support the weight it collapsed spectacularly on itself. I may have over baked it — leaving it in the oven for 30 mins to cool after the 1 hour baking time — putting the final nail in the cake coffin if you will.
The second one, baked last night, was better from the moment it came out of the oven. I made it again in part because I wanted to post a solid recipe, but really I just wanted cheesecake. I wasn’t going to re-shoot it but I did, of course. With a different topping, because that’s what I felt like. Then I ate a slice and a half for breakfast.
The topping on the first one? A Fig & Black Olive Tapanade, essentially creating a cheese platter in a cake. It was a slightly crazy mad scientist stroke of inspiration and I loved the salty sweet combo, RJ was not quite as impressed. You can decide for yourself when I post that recipe later this week.
On moving back to move forward
If you follow on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter you may have seen my new toy. I finally upgraded my camera and in the process went full frame, a Nikon D610 to be exact, but of course a new camera comes with a learning curve — if only to work out where all the buttons are.
My go-to 35mm 1.8 lens is a DX (not full frame and therefore not best on the new camera) but luckily I’ve had a fancy 50mm 1.4 sitting on a shelf and it charged in like Prince Charming on a white horse to save the day.
I’ve also moved to the opposite side of my desk to shoot, finding more light and a better angle, but in the process moved out of my comfortable quick shot space. This, combined with a crappy rainy morning, of course means I found myself taking a thousand (or 70, whatever) pics of things I would have rattled off with 30 a week ago.
Le sigh. First world problems? Yes. But cake for breakfast is a pretty good first world perk.
Baked Ricotta Cheesecake
This classic baked ricotta cheesecake is a bit more dense than one loaded with cream cheese, and a bit less sweet than one loaded with sugar. Neither of these things makes it any less enjoyable.
Makes one 8″ cake
- 500 g whole milk ricotta
- 250 g mascarpone cheese or creme fraiche
- 3 eggs, separated
- 2 large pinches sea salt
- 1/2 c rice syrup
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp spelt or gf flour
- Spiced Quinoa Pie Crust
- coconut oil for pan
- Fig & Strawberry Compote, recipe below
- fresh thyme and orange zest
Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease an 8 inch (20 cm) round removable base tin with a bit of coconut oil. Line sides with baking paper.
Make the crust:
Prepare half a batch of Spiced Quinoa Pie Crust for a thin base or a whole batch for a thick base.
Press into bottom of pan evenly, refrigerate 5 mins. Bake 7 mins, but no longer.
Make the filling:
Beat egg whites and one large pinch of salt to soft peaks. Set aside.
Beat ricotta until smooth, add mascarpone and remaining pinch of salt and beat until well combined. Beat in egg yolks, followed by rice syrup. Stir through zests, ginger and juice.
Sift over flour and scoop in half the beaten egg whites. Stir well to loosen mixture. Add remaining egg whites and gently fold in. Pour into par-baked crust and return to oven.
Bake for 30 mins then reduce oven to 150 F (300 C) and bake for another 20 mins. Cool on a rack 20 mins before removing sides and baking paper. Cool completely before serving.
Top with compote, zest and thyme leaves.
- Line side of pan with baking paper that extends a couple inches above the edge. The cake will rise as it bakes and you don’t want it to volcano all over your oven. It will fall as it cools.
vegetarian // gluten-free if gf flour is used // soy-free // refined sugar-free
Fig & Strawberry Compote
A 100% fruit topping spiked with herbal thyme. Perfect for cheesecake — or anything really.
- 10 strawberries, chopped
- 6 dry figs, chopped
- 1/4 c orange juice
- 2 stalks fresh thyme
Simmer orange juice and figs until reduced and syrupy, about 3 mins. Remove from heat and stir through strawberries, adding a splash of water if needed.
Use to top Baked Ricotta Cheesecake, porridge, ice cream or even toast.
vegan // vegetarian // gluten-free // dairy-free // soy-free // refined sugar-free
Once again it’s time for Sweet Adventures Blog Hop and our guest hostess is Nic from Nic Cooks with her Say Cheese theme. To say Nic is obsessed with cheese is an understatement so it came as no surprise that she chose the versitile (usually savoury) ingredient for November! Thanks for hosting!
SABH is a monthly blog hop brought to you by JJ from 84th & 3rd and guest hostesses. Make sure to check out all the other creations that have been linked-up below.
Cake for breakfast is the best! Oh the joys of being a food blogger 😉 The fig and strawberry compote sounds amazing too.
john | heneedsfood says
Delicious combination! Baked cheesecake is the only cheesecake I prefer. Not a great fan of the fridge-set ones. Full fat all the way!
Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie says
That looks amazing! Love the fig & strawberry compote on top – I can imagine using that for all kinds of things! Deeelicious!
Surely all that fruit counteracts the fat?! I thought they cancelled each other out 😉
Sorry to hear it caused all that stress but it really does look delicious!
Ha lovely logic ;D not too much stress and besides, the result was cake so everyone wins, thanks for hosting Nic!
Melissa Darr says
Oh gosh I wish I could eat dairy. This looks great JJ. I so know about taking a million shots of one cake. The joys of a new camera.
I LOVE this photo series. The new positioning and light is doing you wonders (as too, I’m guessing, the mojo that comes with a new toy) 🙂
(Also, cheesecake for breakfast is alright by me).
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Your cheesecake looks superb, JJ. And the compote is a lovely accompaniment. Yes, I can admit to eating cheesecake for breakfast! Love it, life is short, why not indulge occasionally. I baked a cracker of a NY Cheesecake recently, made a few of them actually, my version is low fat and rather superb http://www.bizzylizzysgoodthings.com/2/post/2013/09/new-york-cheesecake.html
Love ricotta cheesecake! The fig and strawberry compote are the stars for me here! This looks uber gorgeous! xx
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I’ve always wanted to make a ricotta cheesecake. This is so beautiful with the compote topping!
My Kitchen Stories says
What a treat a new camera. That last photo must be the 1.4 right?. I love a baked ricotta cheese cake . They are made to eat at any time of the day.
Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas says
This looks fantastic. The awesome bonus of perseverance. Cake for breakfast 🙂
Jasmine | The Gluten Free Scallywag says
I laughed because I tried to do a low fat ricotta cheesecake a little while ago – FAIL! I’ve found half full half light cream cheese works in a standard baked cheesecake pretty well though and means that I can tell myself that extra slither is totally ok!
Ps I have lens envy.
I do agree that you can cut the fat w cream cheese and have a successful cheesecake – but the low fat ricotta version was not pleasurable ;D
Tina @ bitemeshowme says
beautiful photos, on both cheesecakes. It’s almost like playing spot the difference 😛
Monica @ Gastromony says
Very nice JJ! I do love a ricotta based cheesecake and the fig and strawberry combo sounds so summery 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Cake for breakfast solves everything in my opinion. I’m still struggling to find my favourite photo set up in our new house and we’ve been here nearly 5 months.
You photos look stunning already! I like the spot the difference shots too.
Li @ Words and Cake says
I love baked cheesecakes. Figs and cheesecake goes fabulously as well, this looks delicious!
This dish is really just all kinds of yum!! I am such a lover of ricotta cheesecake, but you’ve taken it to the next level with the fig and strawberry.
Your cheesecake looks beautiful! I can’t believe I used to hate ricotta. I totally missed out all those years!