So it's summer, the season of sunshine and the much dreaded exam period for a Uni student. Sounds a little random you might say, in which case may I gently remind you to read the title of my blog. Yes, I literally just started out baking about 3 months ago, reason being I was under too much stress from writing my final year dissertation. I wanted to find a way to get rid of the stress without getting wasted at the pubs. Long story short, here I am 3 months later still extremely into baking and in fact I consider this as one of my favourite hobbies now! Not sure if it's going to last after my last exam in June but judging from the way it is now I'd imagine myself doing this for quite a while!
Enough introduction, here comes the cheesecake. It's got a massive twist to it because it's not heavy and dense like the conventional NY cheesecake. It's not as creamy either. In fact, it's got banana and caramel in it. And it doesn't even have the traditional biscuit base. You might be tempted to stop reading by now but do bear with me.
This cheesecake has got a souffle base, i.e; it has got meringue incorporated to give it the rise. As a result, it has a very fluffy and soft texture and extremely light. In fact, the actual name for this type of cheesecake is cotton soft Japanese souffle cheesecake. Imagine cheese souffle but a sweet version.
I've made this cake a couple of times before I decided to add my own twist to the flavour and the two random flavours that sprang to my mind were banana and caramel,. I must say I am fairly particular when it comes to the aesthetic side of baking and I always try to find ways to glam up my bakes. There's no exception to this one. I came across this guy on Masterchef whose name I've forgotten (sorry mate!) making some ornaments out of caramel and I thought I'd it a go based on what he did on the show!
The decorative piece turned out OK, considering that was my first attempt. It was also pretty much a last minute decision too to drench my cake in lots of caramel sauce to hide any imperfections. :)
The weather was typically British on the day with alternating clouds and sunshine and in fact ended up with a drizzle right after I took this picture!!
Had a friend over for tea and I was quite flattered by the fact that he requested for a second slice. I guess this is what every baker wishes to hear from their guest(s) really.
Here are few more shots of this cake in slices:
In the unlikely event of you wishing to try out this cake's recipe here it is:
Banana and Caramel Souffle Cheesecake
2 ripe medium bananas
80g caster sugar
6 large eggs, separated
250g cream cheese - Medium fat would do but for extra decadence go full fat
60g all purpose flour (or cake flour if you can find it, unlikely if you live in the UK though)
Pinch of salt and cream of tartar(optional)
Vanilla essence, approximately 1 tbsp
100g caster sugar
1. First, prepare the banana puree, make sure the bananas are as ripe as it can be for maximum flavour.
2. Prepare the caramel sauce. Melt sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns amber in colour. Swirl the pan every now and then but do not stir with a metal spoon. Add in the cream, it will sizzle vigorously so be careful, swirl the pan as it cooks until the bubbling has subsided, about 10 seconds. Alternatively, measure with a candy thermometer until it reaches 108C. Take off heat and add butter, stir well. Leave in the fridge to cool while you prepare the cheesecake batter.
3. Preheat oven to 160C. Oil and line a deep 9inch round springform. If you don't have a deep tin(5cm in height), line your normal springform with parchment paper that extends above the rim, this is important as your cake will rise significantly during the baking process and you don't want to tumble over! Make sure you wrap the pan in tin foil too as you will be baking the cake in water bath.
4. Whisk egg yolks with the flour and cornstarch until well combined.
5. Melt the butter, cream cheese, banana puree, vanilla eesence and 1/3 of the caramel sauce with the milk in a saucepan, stirring frequently.
6. Pour the warm mixture into the egg yolk mixture and whisk constantly to avoid scrambling the yolks. Sift.
7. Whisk egg whites with the sugar up to slightly more than soft peaks but not stiff. Fold the egg whites into the yolk and cream mixture.
8. Pour the final batter into the prepared springform and bake in a hot water bath for 90-100 minutes.
9. The cake is done when a skewer comes out clean. You'd rather over-bake this cake because it's terrible having a goey centre! Don't worry about it going dry because the cream cheese will help keep it moist.
10. Let the cake cool down and peel off the parchment paper. Warm up the remaining caramel sauce from earlier in a Bain Marie until it's of pouring consistency. Pour over your cake on top of a wire rack and let cool until it firms up.
11. For the caramel ornaments, simply melt some caster sugar and using a fork or any metallic utensils, drizzle the caramel over a steel object such as the back of a ladle or the bottom of a metallic pan. Remove when it's hardened. The remaining caramel in the saucepan hardens as it cools, simply reheat to melt it again if required. The good news is even if you made a very ugly caramel ornament you can always put it back into the saucepan with the remaining caramel and warm it up to melt everything and start again!
1. There are two schools of thought when it comes to making caramel. Some prefer adding a tiny bit of water at the beginning while the others prefer melting sugar directly on its own. There are pros and cons for each method. Melting sugar with water first will provide a safety net, in the sense that you're less likely to burn your caramel as the heat distribution is more even but this method would take almost twice as long as you would have to boil off most of the water before caramelisation begins. On the other hand, melting sugar directly is a lot quicker but if your saucepan isn't of good quality it may not distribute heat evenly so you could end up with burnt caramel at the bottom when the top layer of sugar hasn't even completely melted! The only way that I know to get around this is by spreading a thin layer of sugar in the saucepan to make sure all sugar melt at the same time. This could mean using a very large saucepan that is bigger than the hot plate/stove and if this is the case, the heat distribution will be uneven again, as the sides would not receive the same amount of heat from the hot plate. So, for amateur bakers or for poor student bakers like myself who don't own heavy based saucepans that cost a fortune nor a large enough stove I would stick with the first method of melting with water. If I were to make only a small amount of caramel I would go with the second method as I can still use my small saucepan to spread my sugar out.
2. This recipe calls for a meringue whipped to slightly more than soft peaks but not stiff. The rationale behind this is to avoid getting cracks on the surface. A stiff meringue would contain too much air bubble and in the rising process may break through the top and result in cracks. Another tip to avoid cracks at the top is to leave your cake in the oven with door ajar after it's fully baked to allow slow decrements in temperature. Sudden drop in temperature could cause excessive shrinkage on the sides of the tin and can rip the cake apart giving cracks.
I hope these tips are useful! I'd be happy to answer questions if you have any (If I know the answer to it of course).