If you're in Australia, you'll probably have noticed that strawberries are very plentiful this week at the markets and shops. So much so that I bought countless punnets of beautiful perfectly ripe strawberries that needed using up. This strawberry yogurt cake is a double layered light sponge filled with a divinely light cheesecake. The cheesecake is lightened with the tang of hung yogurt and cream and has the added advantage of being a no bake cheesecake. Surrounding the cake is a layer of cut strawberries to make the most of the picture perfect strawberries on sale now. We called her Priscilla :)
I'm not knocking baked cheesecakes, there's certainly an argument to be had for that thick, palate sticking richness of a baked cheesecake. But sometimes I want something a bit lighter, less sweet with a bit more tang to it. And if you don't like desserts overly sweet then Priscilla may be for you. You can of course make the cheesecake part sweeter by adding more sugar. It is perfectly up to you and your taste. Which is part of the reason I like making food, because I have my own specific taste and can't help but fiddle with a recipe. Most of the time it works out okay, sometimes not but I'm getting better at it.
One thing that I tried to improve recently was my bike riding skills. I thought that it was a good idea so that I could join Mr NQN in some bike riding. So far I've never biked on the road, only in Centennial Park (three times, yes I can count them on one hand) and an attempt in Lumpini Park in Bangkok (abandoned about half a kilometre in).
So there we were on a quiet country road in Siem Reap. It was around 7:30 in the morning and cows were grazing on the side of the road. I had a perfectly peaceful and bucolic setting for my next attempt. I was practicing riding albeit in a very wobbly fashion and doing long ovals circuits down the road with Mr NQN holding on the back of my bike ("Don't you dare let go!" I said repeatedly). I was, it must be said pretty awful at it. I mean the saying "It's just like riding a bike" is total rubbish. I am living proof.
Then I looked up. At least thirty bikes and motorbikes came speeding towards me gesturing wildly for me to get off the road. "Why are they being so mean?" I cried to Mr NQN. Is this what happens when people on the road decide that you aren't good enough to ride? Even Mr NQN looked confused at this sudden procession of people shooing me off the road. I was a bit scared because since when did large hordes of people tell others to get off the road?
"It's a sign!! They hate me! I hate riding! Even strangers don't think I should ride," I cried. My cycling career was over, abandoned like a single worn sock with slack elastic.
Well it turned out that what I lack in cycling ability I make up in timing. The very hour that I decided to practice bike riding was the exact time an annual cycling marathon was going through this very quiet country road. I felt a little better that at least people don't yell at people that aren't very good at cycling to get off the road as a matter of routine occurrence although it will take me a while to get back on. If you need me, I'll be busy baking and improving my skills there! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, is there an area where you would like to improve your skills? Are you good at cycling and do you have any tips for me? Do you fiddle and change recipes? And do you have any cake name suggestions?
Priscilla, The Strawberry Yogurt Cheesecake
You will need to start this recipe the night before to hang the yogurt
For the sponge
- 4 eggs, at room temperature and then submerged in hot water for 5 minutes unless it is summer where you are at (this makes a very big difference in the whipping volume)
- 1/2 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1/4 cup fine cornstarch
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
For the Cheesecake
- 500g/1.1lbs. of natural Greek style yogurt
- 6-7 tablespoons cold water
- 6 teaspoons gelatine powder
- 2 cups cream
- 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup icing or powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
- 4 tablespoons Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 250g/8.8ozs. strawberries, around the same size (mine were 4cm high, okay yes I measured them)
- Whipped cream
Step 1 - Line 2 x 22cm/8.8inch spring form tins on the base and sides. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed for 6-8 minutes until very pale and very and at least tripe its original volume.
Step 2 - While this is whipping, sift the flour and cornflour three times. Each time do it at a bit of a height and tap the side of the sieve with the heel of your hand. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold the mixture until just combined but make sure that it is evenly distributed. If it isn't, it will result in "tough" bits in the sponge. Spoon the batter into the two tins dividing them evenly and bake in the centre rack of the oven for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Step 3 - Cool in tins for 5 minutes and then remove gently and once completely cool wrap in cling film. You can freeze this or use it the next day.
Step 4 - Slice off the calyx from the strawberries and cut in half. Line a 22cm/8.8inch springform tin (same one that you used for the sponge) on the base and sides. Your cake may be slightly smaller than the springform tin so pad it out with some folded over foil so that the cake sits snugly in the tin. Place one half of the cake on the base of the springform. Line up the strawberries on the side against each other the cut side facing outwards.
Step 5 - Make the cheesecake. Place 3 tablespoons of the cold water in a microwave proof bowl and sprinkle over 3 teaspoons of gelatine powder. Add another 3 tablespoons on top of the and sprinkle over the other 3 teaspoons of gelatine powder. Add 1 more tablespoon of cold water if needed. Allow to become firm (it doesn't take long) and then microwave for 30-40 seconds until it is liquid, albeit viscous. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Step 6 - Whip the cream using a whisk attachment. Then add the strained yogurt and sifted icing sugar, Chambord and vanilla and whip again for about 30 seconds. Add the cooled gelatine and whip for about 4-5 minutes until aerated and light. It won't stiffen up like whipped cream (or turn into butter) but it will hold its shape better.
Step 7 - Pour the filling into the centre making sure not to dislodge any strawberries. Smooth over with an angled spatula and refrigerate for 2 hours. Place the other sponge half on top of the cheesecake (bottom or smooth side up). Pipe whipped cream on top and decorate with quartered strawberries.