As predicted in my last post, my birthday passed without a bang. Also as predicted, I spent my birthday doing what I liked best – reading and baking. I also took a break that morning from my Atkins diet – a no-no but it was my birthday and I CBF. I ate roti prata in the morning (technically I ate 1 roti prata, 1 thosai and 1 roti tissue, shared with my brother) and I honestly cannot remember what I ate or did thereafter, although I’m sure I treated myself to REAL food. I’m desperately trying to recall what else I did that day besides attending to work, baking and reading by looking through my twitter, instagram and messages to see what I was up to but it appears that I probably was just baking and slacking around because I didn’t post much on my birthday.
This cake was not one of the cakes I baked on my birthday – I had made a yellow cake (my favourite recipe to use when I need a sturdy cake or when I have too many egg yolks) and covered it with chocolate ganache, as well as baked a brownie cheesecake. Not those typical brownies with cheesecake swirls or bits in them, but a two-layered cake, with brownie at the bottom and a proper cheesecake on top, plus a layer of chocolate ganache to top it all off. I brought it to the office to share with my colleagues the day after and I’m glad that I had really good reviews from all of them! I also had many good feedback on the cakes, which definitely helps me in improving.
It’s not really obvious on the blog because I’ve so much backlog that I’ve been baking tons of cheesecakes (mostly steam-baked) and cream cheese related items because I’ve got 2kg worth of cream cheese lying in the fridge at home and it needs getting rid of! It’s a bug I’ve gotten recently, after finding out how texturally lovely and delicious a steam-baked cheesecake is, compared to the usual non-baked cheesecakes I used to favour back when my mom used to bake them. I also love the taste of cream cheese, because it’s sweet and yet contains that tanginess, almost like cultured butter, and it adds a different dimension to baked goods, especially plain butter cakes.
It is thus really apt that I’m submitting this to Bake-Along #47. Zoe, Lena and Joyce chose cotton soft cheesecakes to feature this week and although this is called a “zebra cheesecake”, the technique is essentially that of a japanese cotton cheesecake. I’m very much a bake-on-whim baker, which is why I find it really hard to adhere to baking groups or themes, but I do try to participate when I can! This is probably the 4th time I’m participating in Bake-Along but I do keep my eye on all the bake-along posts all the time!
Cream cheese by the way is also one of those (few) dairy products which are allowed on Atkins induction, along with hard cheeses like cheddar. Having eaten nothing but meat and ‘foundation vegetables’ for the past week, my sweet tooth was CRAVING dessert and I promptly tried out some Atkins suitable desserts. They mostly consist of using egg and cream cheese, but beggars can’t be choosers so the first ‘muffin’ that I made with cream cheese (which I thought was more of a pancake/sweet scrambled egg) tasted pretty darn awesome.
Also, a quick update on my diet – to date, I’ve lost 1.5kg (after almost 3 weeks), which is quite sad because the diet promises that you will “lose up to 15 pounds in 2 weeks”. Nevertheless, I do think that 1.5kg is a good start, considering that I don’t have much weight to lose. Ideally, I’d like to lose 5kg because that would put my BMI into the healthy range. I’m currently in the overweight range >.< I chose to start at Induction, which is typically for people with more weight to lose, because I wanted to ‘shock’ my system, and I guess it was a test for myself, of my discipline and endurance. Well, I’m (not) happy to say that I really am lacking in discipline. I cannot begin to count the number of times I cheated during my two weeks of Induction, by eating popcorn, fruits and other sweet stuff =/
In fact, one of the problems I encountered was lunch. I tried as far as possible to pack my own food (ie, Induction friendly food like steak and salad), but the truth was, I had to meet people for lunch, and it was during those times that I ‘cut myself some slack’ and ate food like pork bulgogi albeit without rice, which I’m sure has sugar and other bad stuff.
In fact, I wonder if there’s any restaurant out there (perhaps in the States where Atkins is more prevalent) that caters specifically to Atkin dieters. Drawing on that idea, I think opening a restaurant in Singapore catering to such dieters would be a huge hit! If this restaurant (or cafe or brasserie) had delivery service, I’m pretty sure it would have great success like those homemakers who earn that extra bit of money by cooking dinner for regulars who order them. I’m a queen of (unfulfilled) business ideas seriously.
Back to the cheesecake. Looking at the photographs of this cheesecake now makes me salivate, and reminds me of my brother when he first put on braces. He was in great pain, and I vividly recall that there was some ‘kuihs’ on the dinner table before him, and when my mom asked him if he wanted to eat them (because they were soft), he told my mom that his mouth hurt and he would “smell until full” instead. He said this in mandarin, which probably makes more sense. I guess that’s what I have to do in this instance – I have to “look until I’m full” hehe.
Anyway, this cheesecake, besides being one of the prettier non-frosted cakes I’ve done, was touted as one of my ‘best cakes ever’ by my mother the day after I baked the cake. Mind you, my mom had earlier, having tried the cake on the day it was baked, said it was yucky and too moist. She even asked me if I had baked it sufficiently! So now you know, you definitely need to chill this in the fridge for the optimum taste! I would strongly advise those baking this to make sure that you bake this wayyyy in advance – at least a day ahead! Don’t worry about it drying out in the fridge because it won’t!
- 250g cream cheese
- 50g butter
- 100ml fresh milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- ½ tsp apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar)
- 60g all-purpose flour
- 20g corn flour
- 6 egg whites
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 120g castor sugar
- 10g cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 160C. Prepare a water bath by placing a tray filled with tap water (up to about 5-8cm high). The tray should be big enough to accommodate the cake pan.
- Line the bottom of a 8” square or 8”/9” round pan. If you use a 9” round pan, the cake will be slightly shorter. There is no need to grease the sides of the pan as the cake will shrink slightly from the sides and you can use a knife to release the cake. If you are using a spring form pan, be sure to wrap the pan with aluminum foil on the outside to prevent the water from seeping into the cake.
- Weigh the mixing bowls separately and take note of their weights. This is so that you can easily weigh the bowls with the separate mixtures and divide the batter into 2 easily. If you are not adding the cocoa powder for the striped cheesecake, you may omit this step. Alternatively, if you have at least 4 mixing bowls in your kitchen, you can skip this step.
- Place the cream cheese, butter and milk in a metal mixing bowl. Place this over a pot of simmering water and let the mixture melt. Stir well to ensure that there are no lumps. Do not let the water in the pot bowl as this will cause the cream cheese to seize and be lumpy. Once melted, allow the mixture to cool slightly, until the metal bowl feels slightly warm to touch.
- In the meantime, place the egg whites in another metal mixing bowl with the sugar and salt. Beat the egg whites for about 5-8 minutes until you get semi-stiff peaks (the beak of the whisk will be slightly hooked).
- When the cream cheese mixture has cooled, whisk in the egg yolks, vanilla and cider vinegar. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and whisk gently to ensure everything is combined. Weigh the egg yolk mixture and divide the batter into two separate mixing bowls. In one mixing bowl, sift in the cocoa powder and stir to make sure the cocoa powder is well combined and that there are no lumps.
- Weigh the egg white meringue and divide the meringue into 2, placing one half into each egg yolk mixture. Gently fold in the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture.
- You now have two bowls of yellow and brown batter. Pour in the yellow (or brown) batter into the centre of the lined pan. Pour in an equal amount of cocoa batter in the middle of the yellow batter. The circle will start to spread. Repeat the process, until you get concentric circles. If you want narrower stripes, you can choose to alternate about 20-30g of yellow and brown batter. Alternate until all the batter is used up. If you want wider stripes, use about 40-50g of batter each time.
- Transfer the pan carefully into the water bath. Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake is nicely browned.
- Once done, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Remove the liner at the bottom of the cake and let the cake cool on the wire rack with the bottom of the cake facing up. This is because the bottom of the cake may be slightly wet or mushy. Once the cake is completely cooled, let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving. The cake tastes best the day after it is baked. Remove the cake from the fridge about 15 minutes before serving, and serve the cake chilled.