Strawberry and Vanilla Baked Cheesecake with Strawberry Crumb  

serves 10 to 12

 

It’s Summer! Thanks to Caroline O’C for sending in this mouth watering-recipe for Strawberry and Vanilla Baked Cheesecake – and so low in calories!Innocent (not)

 

Strawberry and Vanilla Baked Cheesecake with Strawberry Crumb – serves 10 to 12

Hands-on time 20 min, oven time 60 to 70 min

Strawberries are the hero in this beautiful cheesecake. Perfect served with a pot of tea.

Strawberry and Vanilla Baked Cheesecake with Strawberry CrumbFor the cheesecake
300g digestive biscuits
60g melted butter
6 to 7g tub of freeze-dried strawberries (from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado) – see below for doing it at home
600g full-fat cream cheese
150g caster sugar
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Grated zest and juice 2 large lemons
3 medium free-range eggs, plus additional 2 yolks
200ml soured cream
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
For the topping
500g small British strawberries, some halved, some left whole
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
Good splash Cointreau or other orange liqueur
Juice ½ lemon

Method

✒ Heat the oven to 160°C / fan140°C / gas 3.

✒ Crush the digestives to fine crumbs and then mix in the melted butter and freeze-dried strawberries. Press into the base of a 20cm springform cake tin to cover completely. Chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

✒ Using an electric hand whisk, whip the cream cheese with the rest of the cheesecake ingredients in a bowl until light and fluffy. Spoon evenly over the chilled base and then bake for 60 to 70 minutes until set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Turn off the oven with the cheesecake inside and allow to cool completely (see tips).

✒ About 30 minutes before serving, put the strawberries with all the other topping ingredients into a bowl, stir to coat, then leave to macerate. Remove the cheesecake from the tin, decorate with the macerated strawberries and serve.

✒ Chef’s tip – Make the cheesecake the day before. Once cooled, remove from the tin onto a plate and chill in the fridge. Take out of the fridge half an hour before you want to serve and make the strawberry topping to finish off.

Drying Strawberries at Home with out a Dehydrator

Drying Strawberries at Home with out a DehydratorPrep the strawberries
✒ Wash the strawberries. Slice off the hulls (green parts at the stem end of the fruit).
✒ Cut small strawberries in half, larger ones into quarters.
✒Arrange the strawberry pieces on baking sheets cut sides up. If you wish, you can first put a sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet to prevent sticking. But so long as you don’t put the cut sides of the fruit down on the sheet, they won’t stick. Make sure that none of the strawberry pieces are touching (you want good air circulation on all sides of the fruit).

Dry the strawberries
Place the sheets of strawberries in the oven and dry them at 200F for 3 hours. If your oven is hotter in some spots than others, turn the baking sheets around occasionally so that the strawberries dry evenly.

Cool the dried fruit
You won’t be completely sure if the strawberry pieces are fully dehydrated until they have cooled (you know how cookies crisp up after you take them out of the oven? Same deal with dried fruit). Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Let the strawberries cool at room temperature for 20 minutes.
After the cooling off period, break one of the pieces of fruit in half. There should be no visible moisture along the surface of the break. The texture should be somewhere between chewy and crisp.

Condition the dried strawberries
Even after the strawberries are correctly dehydrated there may still be some residual moisture in the fruit that you can’t feel. This shouldn’t be enough to prevent the fruit from being safely preserved and mold-free. But you’ll have a tastier, better product if you do what is called “conditioning” the dried fruit.

Put the dried, cooled strawberry pieces into glass jars, only filling the jars about 2/3 full. Cover the jars. Shake the jars a couple of times a day for one week. This redistributes the fruit pieces as well as any moisture they may still contain. If any condensation shows up on the sides of the jars, your fruit isn’t dried well enough yet and it needs to go back into the oven at 200F for another 30 to 60 minutes.

Storage
Once your dried strawberries are conditioned, store them in airtight containers away from direct light or heat. I prefer to use non-plastic food storage containers. It’s okay to fully fill the jars at this point: the ⅔ full was just for the conditioning phase when you needed to be able to shake the pieces around.

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