Hello, I’m Clementine the Baker Cat. How are you? Did you watch this week’s Great British Bake Off – Dessert Week? It was a good episode, wan’t it? Full of drama (soupy cream brûlée and cheesecake landslide), tough challenges (Mary Berry’s Spanische Windtorte that involves ‘the most feminine version of plastering you could imagine’), and many, many delicious desserts (Ian’s apple and thyme cheesecake and Tamal’s mango cheesecake). This week was all about ‘wobble’ – the crucial indication of the perfectly-baked cheesecake and creme brûlée. Too much wobble means under-baked and too little wobble means over-baked.
When one of the bakers tried to demonstrate the perfect wobble by shaking her own body, the presenter Sue Perkins asked her, “What wobble are you looking for? Looking for Kim Kardashian? Looking for Jessica Rabbit?”
See? The art of wobble is very profound.
Unsurprisingly, the show made me fancy some cheesecake. However, I thought it should master the art of wobble first. So, I visited a place where lots of wobbling were going on – Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden, hoping I could learn the perfect wobbling movement for my cheesecake.
First, I went to a classic ballet class. I learned elegant and smooth movements, but there was no wobble. Those ballerinas had nothing to wobble on their body anyway. Next, I went to a street dance class. They showed me how to do locking and popping but not wobbling. In another street dance class, the dancers were practicing fierce booty shaking, their booties wobbling away. I tried it myself but it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Anyway it wasn’t the wobble I was looking for – it was a bit too much.
Finally, I joined a belly dance class. I shimmied my hips and my belly wobbled nicely – but it was not quite the right wobble for cheesecake. But then, I was distracted by the ringing bells on the hips of the other dancers. I got kicked out of the class for playing with the bells!
I was so exhausted when I got home. I went straight to my owner Momo’s lap for a lie down. When I stepped on her belly, it wobbled slightly.
‘This is the perfect wobble!’ I cried.
Momo looked down sharply at me and said, ‘Excuse me?!’
To avoid a long explanation, I ran off to the kitchen and baked a White Chocolate & Summer Berry Cheesecake. This is one of the great hits among my friends. The juicy berries (I used strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blueberries) are condensed to a sharp yet fruity, ruby-red coulis. It’s swirled into the silky, smooth, creamy white chocolate cream cheese filling – they complement each other nicely. The base is made of chocolate biscuits (I used Oreo biscuits). The crumbly, dark, bitter-sweet base creates a wonderful flavour contrast, as well as contrasting visually with the white filling. When I took the cheesecake out of the oven and shook it, it was firm around the edges but wobbled slightly in the middle. After being chilled in the fridge overnight, the cheesecake had firmed up nicely and was ready to eat. I cut a generously sized slice and offered it to Momo. She looked at the slice, then pinched her muffin top and look at it gravely.
But she said, ‘Well, a slice of cheesecake won’t kill me, will it?’
So we enjoyed the delicious cheesecake, that made us wobble with pleasure.
WHITE CHOCOLATE & SUMMER BERRY CHEESECAKE
(FOR THE BERRY COULIS)
300g mixed summer berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blackberries
60g caster sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
(FOR THE BASE)
200g chocolate cookies such as Oreos
50g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease
(FOR THE FILLING)
600g full-fat cream cheese
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
150ml sour cream
1½ tsp vanilla extract
150g white chocolate, melted
- First, to make the berry coulis, heat the berries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until all soften. Remove all the seeds and skins by press the berries with a rubber spatula through a fine strainer. Put back in the saucepan.
- Combine the cornstarch with 1 tbsp of water, then stir into the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring just until thickened. Set aside to cool and use later.
- Heat oven to 180°C/Gas 4.* Grease a 20cm cake tin.**
- To make the base, break the cookies (if you use Oreos, remove all the cream bits) into food processor. Crush until fine crumbs form (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Add the butter and plus further until well mixed. Transfer into the prepared tin, and press firmly, using the back of a spoon.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until just about firm. Keep a close eye on it to make sure that the biscuits don’t burn. Leave to cool slightly.
- To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, then white chocolate and mix well.
- Pour a half of the filling into the crust. Dot it with a half of the berry coulis. Carefully pour the rest of the filling and Dot the top with the remaining coulis. Swirl gently with knife.
- Bake the cake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 140°C/Gas 1*** and bake 1½-2 hours or until the surface is firm but the centre is still slightly wobbly when shaken. Cool the cake completely in the tin on a wire, and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, before removing from the tin.****
*Every ovens are different. Know your oven and adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
**A little trick here to remove the cheesecake perfectly later is to invert the tin bottom so the lip around the edge is facing down when assembling the tin. This allows you to easily slide a knife between tin bottom and cheesecake.
***This might seem like too low temperature to bake with, but it’s this long, slow cook that will give the cheesecake a perfectly smooth texture.
****Watch how to remove cheesecake from tin here.