The BBC needs no introduction. It basically won the internet (baking edition) this covid season and for good reason. It looks and IS approachable. Your cake tin is lined with parchment paper that you press down haphazardly into the pan, its crumpled edges peeking out above the cake tin unevenly. A Stepford wife's greatest nightmare, but a messy girl's (Me!) beautiful dream. The rumpled paper cocoons the cheese custard inside and after it's been baked (or burnt), the cake emerges from the oven with intensely burnished bits and edges.
What makes it so appealing? This rugged rusticity draws to mind carnal pleasures that appeal to our base insticts. Burning food over fire, allowing things to get charred so well it teeters on the edge of utter destruction, but since we're the only mammals who have managed to transform cooking into an art and form civilization, we control the process and produce something beautiful instead - its creamy insides like "a wedge of triple-crème Camembert" (this article said it so beautifully). The contrast of yin-yang, this tension and contradiction co-existing in just one slice of heaven.
This is my favourite version, which produces a really creamy texture that's not too sweet and has a nice balance of flavour. I've adapted the recipe from here and here, to form a version that I like best. Disclaimer: My mum likes the recipe from just the second link best but my dad and I prefer this version.
500g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
180g heavy cream
6" round cake pan (3" tall, 6" in diameter)
1) Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees celcius. I use a very strong convection commercial oven, so mine was good at 200. Then, line a 6" round pan with your parchment paper. You'll know how to do it instinctively.
2) Using the paddle attachment in your stand mixer (or a whisk and a large mixing bowl if you're doing this by hand), beat your cream cheese, sugar and salt on medium speed until it's well combined and lightened. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes and the mixture should be creamy and lump-free. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure even distribution.
3) Crank your mixer speed down to low and add in your eggs, one at a time. Make sure each egg is well-combined before you add in the next one.
4) Add in your heavy cream and mix until just combined.
5) Pour your cream cheese mixture into your lined tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The top should be nicely burnished and when you give the cake pan a shake, the cake should still have a slight jiggle. Allow it to cool down completely at room temperature before stashing into the fridge to chill overnight.
6) Slice and Serve.
For more tips and visual guides, head on to my IG stories highlights.
Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature. It has to be softened sufficiently for the creamy texture to ensue.
Make sure you add in your eggs one at a time and allow for a proper emulsification to take place.
You can also make this using a food processor or blender, as is done in the original recipe. I don't have a large enough food processor or blender, so I just use a stand mixer.
You can also add some vanilla or lemon juice to the mix.
For a smaller cheesecake in a 6" pan, scale the cream cheese down to 375g, sugar to 112g, eggs to 3, heavy cream to 135g and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.