Sometimes there is no helping it–we all have our bad days. Or, in my case, a not-so-great week of running late, catching a cold, misunderstandings, and a painful toe-stubbing to round it all out. By Friday, I was as miserable as the muggy, rainy weather outside. But weekends are a blessing and I knew exactly how to remedy the gloom of the preceding work week: bake something! And that is what I did.
And what’s more, my baking had a purpose (other than to sit in my fridge taunting me every night)–delight the palates of four excellent friends coming over on Saturday! I had planned a casual afternoon of all-out food enjoyment, aptly christened a “Baking Celebration” afterward, complete with freshly brewed tea and coffee, homemade bread, spiced persimmon jam, yoku moku butter cookies sent to me by a friend, and tiny squares of the heal-all rum-raisin cheesecake I made.
Since I was hosting I couldn’t resist indulging my penchant for all things pretty; thus, the lace doilies, tiny forks, and matching white plateware. But even with all the frivolity and fanciness, the cheesecake itself was surprisingly unfussy and delightfully light and airy, thanks to the heaping tablespoon of flour added to offset the denseness of the custard batter. In fact, it turns out adding a bit of starch to any cheesecake recipe not only modifies the texture to a more cake-like consistency, but also helps prevent cracking and burning during the baking process. Personally, as someone who’s generally indisposed toward the typical heavy and dense cheesecakes found in restaurants, I loved this version for its subtle sweetness and creamy texture.
adapted from ちっちゃなスティックケーキのレシピブック, or “The Tiny Stick Cake Recipe Book” by Yuuko Kurokawa
160 grams cream cheese, softened
100 ml cream
50 grams sugar
2 egg yolks
2 TB flour
1/2 TB lemon juice
1 1/2 TB raisins
2 tsp rum
100 grams McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits (about 11 cookies)
40 grams butter
Make crust: Butter and line a 15cm x 15cm square pan with parchment paper. Put biscuits inside a sealable ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until fine. Pour crumbs into a medium-sized mixing bowl; set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat butter on low for one minute, or until nearly melted. Swirl butter a few times to let the residual heat melt the rest of the butter, and add to the crumbs, stirring with a wooden spoon until evenly coated. Dump mixture into lined baking pan, and firmly press the crumbs into the base with a spatula or your hand. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
Make filling: Preheat oven to 180˚ C, or 350˚ F. In a small bowl, comine raisins and rum, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for one minute. Uncover and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with a spatula until smooth. Add sugar and mix thoroughly, until the batter is no longer gritty-feeling. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing with a whisk after each, then add the cream a little at a time, the flour, lemon juice, and raisins, stirring after each addition.
Spread mixture in bottom of crumb-lined baking pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is golden. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, and then remove from pan and continue cooling until cake is cool to the touch. Cover and refrigerate overnight, and serve cold or at room temperature. To serve, run a large serrated knife under hot water and slice into desired number of pieces, wiping the knife with a dampened paper towel after each cut.