If you are a student of anything to any great degree, you are probably able to easily discern areas of conflict within that field.
A., the husband, tells of vociferous debate about certain types of golf clubs, for example.
B., the 9 lb. wiener dog, relays the details of raging discussion about the healthful virtues of 2 Beggin’ Strips vs. 4 Beggin’ Strips before bedtime.
I have no link for that last one. I believe B. may be attempting to put one over on me.
A quick Google search of ‘flour in cheesecake’ will alert you to the varied opinions on how to properly bake a cheesecake, and more specifically, whether flour has any business being in the mix.
As with to sift or not to sift and optimal creaming time questions, I monitor the flour vs. flour-free cheesecake debate with great interest: I want my sifted goods to be tender, my creamed butter to be light, and my cheesecakes to be as delicious as possible!
But I know that the time will ultimately come when I must make a choice and pick a side – there can be no hanging chads when it comes to cheesecake preparation.
So I did the research, I conducted my tests, and I landed firmly in the camp of Team Flour.
Don’t send hate mail, Team Flourless! I gave you a shot and made my choice, fair and square.
Plus, I just feel that I look a little better in Team Flour’s uniform…
Following is my new favorite cheesecake recipe, along with just a few tips for successful cheesecakery. This particular version of cheesecake involves a bit of tart winter citrus and the fancy accessory of Wojapi, a thick, Native American berry-based sauce that is so good you may opt to omit the whole cheesecake business.
Plus, this recipe for Wojapi doesn’t call for any flour!
So now this recipe really does include something for everyone…
Tips For Making Cheesecake
- For a classic, dense finished cheesecake, you’ll want to be sure to use regular, non-whipped cream cheese that is not just softened, but has come to room temperature. Cold or evenly slightly chilled cream cheese will yield lumps in the batter.
- All-purpose flour is often called for in cheesecake recipes, as in the one listed below, in order to stabilize the cake. If you use flour or any other starch, you may omit taking the step of baking your cake in a water bath. If you omit the flour, I recommend baking with a water bath.
- When mixing the ingredients for your cheesecake, be sure not to mix on any speed other than the lowest possible, in order to avoid aeration.
- Avoid making the most common mistake when it comes to baking cheesecakes: overbaking. Your finished cheesecake will still be jiggly in the bullseye center even when it is baked through. Overbaking can lead to cracking along the top and an undesirable texture inside so be sure to remove your cheesecake promptly.
- Immediately upon removing your finished cheesecake from the oven, run a sharp knife between the edge of the cake and the pan; releasing the baked cake from the sides of the pan will help to avoid cracking along the top of the cake. While this is merely an aesthetic issue, it is one that can be easily avoided by taking the time to separate the cake from the pan, allowing it to cool and contract in one piece.
- As soon as you have separated the baked cake from the pan, leave it in the pan and remove it to the refrigerator to cool and finish setting overnight. I realize that this step is somewhat of a drag, given that you will likely want to dig into your spoils immediately, but allowing the cake to cool and set overnight in the refrigerate further prevents unsightly cracking and allows the cake to settle and sink into that most dense finished texture that is so important when it comes to cheesecakes. Plus, cheesecakes are best served cold from the refrigerator.
Winter Lemon Cheesecake With Blueberry Wojapi (Pudding Sauce)
For the cheesecake:
14 whole graham crackers (approximately 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers)
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
32 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
juice of two large lemons
3/4 c. white sugar, granulated
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
zest of one large lemon
4 large eggs
For the Wojapi:
4 c. blueberries (I recommend going with fresh berries here.)
1 c. white sugar, granulated
1 1/2 c. water, divided
1/2 c. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper and set aside. Please note that this recipe yields a substantial cake that will puff up quite a bit while baking. The walls of your pan should be at least 3″ tall to prevent any overflow.
Break graham crackers into large pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the melted butter and pulse-process until the mixture resembles damp sand. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes, at which point the crust should be just turning golden brown at the edges. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and lemon juice together until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the sugar, flour, zest and eggs, one at a time, mixing until you have a uniform batter. Pour the batter over the baked crust, place the filled pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 60-65 minutes. The finished cheesecake will be puffed, golden at the edges, and slightly jiggly in the center. Remove the baked cake and immediately run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan, separating the cake from the pan. Leave the cake in the pan and remove to the refrigerator to cool, contract, and set overnight.
Meanwhile, to prepare the Wojapi, bring the berries, sugar and one cup of water to a boil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Mix the cornstarch and remaining water together in a small bowl and, once the berries are boiling, carefully stir the cornstarch slurry into the berries, immediately reducing the heat to low. Continue to stir as the mixture thickens to a dense, pudding-like consistency, approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve or store, refrigerated, in a covered container.
Once the cheesecake is ready to serve, carefully unmold, slice, and top generously with Wojapi. Note that this recipe will yield 3 1/2-4 cups of Wojapi.
YIELD: approximately 16 servings