In my cooking bucket list, I said I wanted to decorate a cake and make it actually look good, since cake decoration seems to be beyond me. I’ve made many a delicious cake in my day, but unfortunately my icing skills have never done it justice – this, several times, has turned hours of effort baking something light and fluffy and delicate into something more like the creation of Frankenstein’s Monster.
So, forgive me for the cop out that I’m about to throw down here. I’m delighted to say that I’ve made a cake and I think it looks actually kinda pretty, in an intentionally messy kind of way. But the cake in question is not a traditional sponge cake, so it didn’t require getting icing to the perfect consistency for piping, or anything like that.
I cheated! And made a cheesecake. And I have no regrets! Because I have cheesecake.
Never before have I made cheesecake. I actually have something of a dark past with cheesecake, which embitters the experience of eating it. Basically, my mum told me she’d been baking cheesecakes while I was at school, and I loved them, and I begged her to bake them with me. I begged for ages but still she only baked while I was gone. This came to a head when she told me that she’d actually been buying the cakes and fibbing. Devastation doesn’t cover it.
She did redeem herself, as she made her own cheesecake a couple of years ago now, and it was delicious! But still, I can’t take a bite of cheesecake without feeling sharp pangs of betrayal.
This recipe for a strawberry baked cheesecake kept popping up on my Instagram. The one in question is by Nico Norena, who you can find at @Succulentbite on Instagram. I came across the recipe video, and the sharp snappiness of it made it look so easy, and so tasty! It cropped up more than once on my discover page, and in the end, it was just too tempting. So I decided to try something new and recreate the recipe!
I’ve steered clear from making cheesecakes before because of how expensive all the ingredients are. Shopping tactfully at Lidl offset this. After our Saturday morning shop, we walked out talking about how great having some homemade cheesecake will be, which sent me running back inside the store after realising I’d forgotten cream cheese, of all things.
At home, assembling everything was pretty easy. There was little preparation of individual ingredients involved – mostly I just fired everything into a large bowl and blended. This recipe involves blending approximately fifteen strawberries into a smooth liquid, which smelled and looked amazing. Again, easier than I would have thought.
The hard thing to deal with was the waiting. After cooling completely post-bake, this bad boy said Chill Vibes Only and decided to live in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Which meant I couldn’t bring a slice to my friend on Saturday night.
I prepared the cake in a wide springform pan that my partner and I bought probably two years ago. “We’ll make cheesecake all the time!” We said, followed by never making cheesecake. Until now. So, this pan is pretty wide, and as was the cake. Weighty, too. Gargantuan, some may say.
Basically, I had this monster of a dessert in my fridge and I was panicking in case it hadn’t worked. If it came out disgusting, or it just hadn’t set, it would mean so much waste to get rid of.
First thing Sunday morning, I asked my partner if he’d like to share an ever so small slice of cheesecake for breakfast. I hadn’t decorated it yet, and wanted to make sure it was worth the extra effort.
With more delicacy than I’ve ever mustered, I unfitted the sides of our springform pan and lifted it away from the cake. It didn’t fall apart then, which was good. But my legs were literally shaking. Seriously, actually shaking from the nerves, from the fear of this cake going to shit.
Matt cut a slice for us. Not a perfect slice – the base lost a few crumbs, the cake itself put up something of a fight, but what came out respectably. We grabbed a fork each and dug in.
Oh my god!
It was sweet, it tasted like vanilla and strawberry, it was like a lighter than air mousse. It was pink!! Pastel pink!! So sweet and pretty to behold!!
To decorate, I melted down some white chocolate with a bit of coconut oil, to make it sheen and shine. I drizzled messily on top, filled in a crack in the cake with it, too. Then I sliced my two remaining strawberries from the punnet I used to make the puree, and layered them on top around the diameter too.
Ugh. Gorgeous. Life goals. I wish I was her. She got a few compliments as I couldn’t stop sharing her on social media. My daughter. My sweetheart. I’d die for this cheesecake. A friend even came by to collect a slice and gave it a raving review, so I’ll be on an ego trip for the foreseeable.
I didn’t really deviate from Nico’s recipe, so please find his recipe in his video included here. As a novice cheesecake maker, I found it so easy to follow. It just involved switching some units of measurements to grams/celsius, etc. Otherwise, beyond simples. You too can have delicious strawberry cheesecake chilling in your fridge – such a great Summer treat!
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