Cake is a dangerous thing. Ask me, I should know. It’s not that I have anything against cake. But for every 10 seconds I look at a piece, I gain half a pound. I kid you not. It’s my semi Italian gran’s fault of course that the sodding curvy gene ended up in the pool. You can bootilicious, fab junk-in-the-trunk me all you want to – you won’t convince me. So I tend to say no to cake. Unless… it’s chocolate or cheesecake. Then I turn into a mulish two-year old with no thought for consequences.

I had some cream cheese in the fridge last weekend. Now I know there are many things I could have made with it other than cheesecake. But I also had some leftover buttermilk. A ‘what if’ moment was the inevitable result. What if I made cheesecake and instead of just using cream cheese, added the buttermilk too?

So I did just that, and it worked. The texture is much lighter than it would be if one uses just cream cheese, and you definitely taste the buttermilk. To take it up a notch, I cut back on the sugar in the cake and serve it with a salted caramel sauce. The deep almost bitter notes of a caramel that is quite dark is the perfect foil for the rich creaminess of the buttermilk/cream cheese filling. I made this with a proper piecrust. But if that sounds like too much trouble, a 2-minute biscuit base works just as well, if not better (see Tips, Tricks and Trivia below).

All you need is…

For the crust
300g cake flour
175g soft butter
60g castor sugar
2 egg yolks
¼ tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs water

For the filling
300ml buttermilk
2 x 230g plain cream cheese
150g castor sugar
¼ tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
4 jumbo free range eggs

For the salted caramel sauce
75g white sugar
75g light brown sugar
50g unsalted butter, cubed
200ml cream
half a teaspoon fleur de sel salt (I used Maldon)

Blitz together all the pastry ingredients in your food processor until they just come together. Form into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Make your salted caramel sauce in the meantime. Simply place white and brown sugar in a deep saucepan and place on a medium-hot plate. Leave the sugar to melt. (Do not stir.) Once the sugar is melted and a golden caramel colour, remove from the heat and add the butter, whisking until the butter is melted. (It will bubble up ferociously. This is perfectly normal so don’t get a fright, just keep on whisking.) Then add the cream and salt and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

Spray a spring-form cake tin with a non-stick cooking spray. Use your fingers to press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the cake tin. Try to get it even and as thin as possible, aim for 2-3mm. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes until light golden brown. Remove and allow to cool in the cake tin. Mix the filling ingredients – take care not to overmix, a normal balloon whisk does the job perfectly. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 70 minutes. Switch off the oven and keep in the oven for a further hour with the door closed. Remove and allow to cool down to room temperature. Serve like that or refrigerate it for a few hours.

serves

10-12

prep

20 min

bake

70 min

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tips, tricks and trivia

2-minute biscuit base

Simply blitz together 300g Nutty Crust in your food processor until it resembles fine crumbs. Mix the crumbs with 90g soft room temperature butter (not melted). Press onto the base and sides of the tin. Pour in filling and bake as per normal.

enjoy with

A cuppa is of course lovely with this, but if you’re serving this as a pud and want to pour something special with it, go for a drink with a touch of sweet. Something like Pierre Jordan’s Ratafia with its wonderul honey notes.

Be frightfully grand and serve it icy cold in elegant small glasses.

Ratafia

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