Sunday, August 31, 2008

Secret Baking, part I

J isn't the only one who's been baking alone -- doesn't that sound sorta dirty? 

The sad part of summer has been our long summer hiatus.  So, we've each taking to baking in secret.  I think this means we have a problem -- if you find AP flour hidden in our toilet tanks, it'll be confirmed. This siren song luring me back to baking had to be heeded. 

After re-re-baking the pretzels from the Double Daring Bakers challenge -- what can I say, it's a yeast bread that I feel confident doing! -- and forgetting to actually take a photo.  I decided that I'd photo all the baking I did.

The first contender is the Cheesecake with Minted Blackberries.  This was the best crust I've ever eaten with a cheesecake.  The almonds add a light, buttery taste -- ok, the butter helps with that too.  The cheesecake is creamy and dense and not overly cream-cheesy.  A real winner.  The only change I'd make is to let the blackberries macerate a bit longer.  They were a bit too firm and didn't have the amount of "drizzle" I'd've liked.  But, this was really worth it.  

This is the cover recipe from Gourmet Magazine August 2008

Cheesecake with Minted Blackberries
Serves 8 to 10 (dessert)
Active time: 30 min start to finish: 6 hr (includes cooling and chilling)
Recipe by Dan Barber

For crust
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped

For filling
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs

Equipment: a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment
Accompaniments: minted blackberries, corn ice cream

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350ºf with rack in middle. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides, then lightly butter foil.
Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add flour and almonds, mixing until combined and dough begins to clump together.
Press onto bottom of baking pan with floured fingers.

Bake just until a shade darker and edges begin to pull away from pan, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan.

Make filling and bake:
Reduce oven temperature to 325ºf.

Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and flour with cleaned beaters at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add half-and-half, then eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Pour filling into crust.

Bake in a hot water bath until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center is still wobbly, 40 to 45 minutes. (center will set as it cools.) Transfer pan to a rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours.

Using foil overhang, lift cheesecake from pan and peel off foil before cutting into small rectangles.

Cooks’ note: cheesecake can be chilled (loosely covered once cold) up to 3 days.

Minted blackberries
Makes about 3 cups
Active time:10 min start to finish:40 min

3 cups blackberries (3/4 lb)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl or airtight container and let macerate at room temperature 30 minutes.

Cooks’ note: blackberries can be chilled (after macerating) up to 2 hours.

Bake Through

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