I may be suffering from Heavenly Cake withdrawal--it's been two weeks since I baked from RHC. Last week's post was on a cake baked the first week in December, and this week's seasonal cheesecake seemed like a good contribution for my office holiday party potluck those two weeks ago. There was lots of other cooking and baking going on, just no Heavenly Cakes. I'm ready for those Chocolate Bull's-Eye Cakes! First, though, I'd better write up the cheesecake.
The first decision was whether to make the ladyfingers, or just use store-bought ones, or go with the no-crust option. After some pondering I decided to make them, partly because that way I could make a one-piece base for the cake and partly to reinforce my ladyfinger skills, newly gained when making the Lemon Canadian Crown.
The ladyfingers again came off smoothly, baked a couple of days before I needed to assemble the cheesecake. They did get sticky when stored in plastic wrap, and as I messed up a little and had to reposition the ring of ladyfingers around my springform pan because I forgot to grease it, I lost the pretty appearance of pristine ladyfingers. However, it didn't seem to matter--three people remarked that they thought the resulting cheesecake looked store-bought. Or maybe a few damaged patches are just to be expected, store-bought or no. :)
The cheesecake itself was extremely simple to mix up. One mixing bowl, beating first cream cheese and sugar, then adding eggs, then lemon juice, vanilla, and salt, then the large amount of sour cream. That's it--the batter is ready. When it came to pouring the batter into the prepared pan, I had too much cheesecake for my height of ladyfingers. I could have left them untrimmed and perhaps been able to fit all the batter in, though the rounded bottom might have left some gaps. However, I made a mini-cheesecake with leftover ladyfingers in a large custard cup, which let the family get a couple of bites each for tasting since the full-sized version went to the office party.
I baked it in a springform pan slid into a silicon pan (purchased cheap at a discount store), so no worries about water leaks into the springform. I was a little worried that the cheesecake might not be done, as you bake it for a specified time then leave it in the oven for another hour before opening the oven and removing the cake. At that point I did check the temperature, and the cheesecake was still at the lower end of the 'it's done' range so I felt safe taking it to the office party. The last step was to make the cranberry topping--cranberries and sugar with some cornstarch for thickening, cooked long enough to get the cranberries to pop. The results were festively red, and a nicely balanced level of sweetness.
I presliced the cheesecake before taking it to the office party, but didn't try to extract a piece for a "slice of cake" shot. I thought perhaps there would be a few pieces left afterwards (the office potluck tends to be well-supplied with sweets), but when I went to help with the cleanup, there was only a pile of crumbs in the center of the platter. I didn't get any detailed comments, but "good cheesecake" got repeated a lot. From my tasting of the mini-version, I agree. With a lot of sour cream to the cream cheese amount, this is a light-textured cheesecake with a nice hint of lemon flavor, nicely set off by the cranberry topping. Good cheesecake!