There are probably as many different recipes for cheesecake as there are days of the year.
The first cheesecake I ever tasted was Polish. It had a pastry base, contained curd cheese and also included sultanas and vanilla. Delicious but rather heavy, I thought.
A base using crushed biscuits rather than pastry seems to be the most popular. A straw poll among friends reveals that some prefer to use crushed ginger biscuits, others prefer digestives.
I also chanced upon a recipe which stipulated crushed shortbread biscuits and thought I would try it. It proved much too sweet for our tastes.
As for the main part of the cheesecake, the permutations seem endless. Some are cooked, some are raw. One recipe might contain ricotta cheese or curds, ready-sweetened condensed milk and gelatine, but I have seen sieved cottage cheese and lashings of double cream in others. Nutmeg and vanilla feature as popular flavourings.
I have been working on my own recipe for some time, using the minimum of ingredients and trying to reduce the fat content. I have also experimented by adding the juice and zest of a lemon, and using a topping of fresh fruit.
(Serves 6 to 8)
For the base
200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
50g butter or coconut oil, melted
For the filling
350ml low-fat crème frâiche
300g low-fat cream cheese
85g unrefined caster sugar
25g plain white flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tbsps of lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Approx 250g summer fruits or thawed frozen fruit
Finely crush the biscuits in a food processor, tip into bowl and carefully mix with the melted butter or coconut oil.
Press mixture smoothly into a lined 20cm deep sandwich tin. Or if using a shallow tin line the sides as well so that the sides are at least 4cm deep.
Mix together cream cheese, sugar and flour in a bowl before adding crème fraîche, beaten eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Pour over biscuit base and bake for up to 50 minutes in lower part of oven at 180°.
It will probably still be slightly wobbly-looking when taken from the oven, and may have one or two cracks on the top. These do not matter.
Leave to cool and then put in fridge for several hours to become firm.
Top with fresh fruit such as raspberries, sliced strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrrants. Or at other times of the year, thaw some frozen berries. Then dust a little icing sugar on the top.
Note: If you have any left-over slices of cheesecake they freeze well, but it is best to remove the fruit first. When thawed, add new fruit on the top, ensuring that you cover any juice marks from when it was first served, and remember to add a little icing sugar on the top.