Burnt Basque Cheesecake

In the last couple of weeks, at two people have mentioned a burnt “Basque style” cheesecake to me with some serious enthusiasm, so I decided to research it, and write a recipe for it up here if it was a success. Apparently, this particular cake originated in a restaurant called La Viña in San Sebastian and swiftly achieved notoriety for being wildly delicious. I have never tried the original so can’t be sure if this interpretation is along the right lines, but I can assure you it tastes fantastic. It is also a great option for entertaining as it can be made the day before and then chilled overnight in the fridge.

Sticking as closely as I could to the original, this cheesecake only requires five ingredients (cream cheese, eggs, sugar, flour and double cream), but I also add a pinch of salt as I used a Philadelphia cream cheese for this, which I don’t think is as salty as some of the cream cheeses made in the Basque region.

Make sure you use full fat cream cheese for the best texture and flavour, not a reduced fat option.

I was tempted to add a pinch of ground vanilla but in the end opted to keep it simple as by the sounds of things, the simplest ingredients and a hot oven are the keys to success here, so I banished my urge to fiddle with it. I have read that the La Viña version is served almost slightly undercooked and melting oozily across your plate, but for neater slices, let it cool properly and then chill in the fridge before bringing to room temperature to serve. It’s up to you.

You will need a 23cm springform cake tin and greaseproof baking parchment.

INGREDIENTS

  • 900g cream cheese
  • 360g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • pinch salt (optional)
  • 500ml double cream
  • 50g soft cake and pastry flour

METHOD

Preheat your oven to 200°C fan (or 220°C if not using fan).

Line a 23cm springform cake tin with greaseproof baking parchment, that reaches at least 6cm over the top of the tin. Make sure the lining has no room for leaks, as the cake batter is quite liquid.

Using an electric whisk, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar until there are no lumps and it is smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 15 seconds in between each. Add the salt (if using).

Add the cream, and whisk until silky. Sift in the flour and gently combine, you should have a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into your cake tin, and tap the side gently to get rid of any bubbles. The batter will reach the top of the tin and then rise upwards whilst baking, and then sink when it cools.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time, just keep an eye on the top of the cake through the oven door (don’t open it) to check it is going a deep golden caramelised brown. If it is blackening, turn the heat down, and likewise if it is cooking too slowly, turn it up a little for the last 5 – 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin until it has set. Carefully remove the cake tin and peel off the baking parchment. Ideally, make it a day ahead and chill in the fridge overnight, then bring it to room temperature to serve – this makes it easier to slice. If you’re eating it on the same day, leave it to cool fully before slicing.

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