Sunday, 9 December 2007

Cheese cake

It turned out to be my turn for cake again last week! That's the third time since I started this eating British scheme back in August. Since I've been quite busy at work recently, I was tempted to go for a honey cake again, but this seemed far to boring. I'm an avid fan of Nigella Lawson's programme on BBC 2 and I had recently seen her making a cheese cake, which seemed very quick and easy. The challenge though, would be to make a version of it using British ingredients. I figured that the cheese would probably be the biggest problem. Cheese cake, and here I'm talking about the non-baked variety (I've never understood baked cheese cakes), is usually made using some form of extremely mild cream cheese, such as Marscapone. Clearly, this isn't a British cheese and although I briefly entertained the idea of making a cake using a large block of Stilton (the king of cheese, after all!), I thought that this might not be too popular with my colleagues at work. It was time to call in the professionals.

I called in at I J Mellis on Victoria Street, which is considered by many to be the best cheese shop in Edinburgh. I figured that if anyone was going to be able to help me, it would be them. It turned out that they didn't have anything suitable in stock, although the shop assistant assured me that they usually do and he was able to advise me that the cheese I was looking for was called "Crowdie", which is a famous Scottish cream cheese (you can learn more about it here: He suggested that I should try the Jenners food hall. Luckily, this isn't too far away from Victoria Street and they did have some, so that was the cheese problem solved.

It then occurred to me that the next critical part of any cheese cake recipe is the base. Nigella makes her base by blending up broken digestive biscuits with butter, sounds simple, but are digestive biscuits really British? I don't think they normally quote a country of origin on most packs of biscuits, so I searched high and low in the Jenners food hall, but they didn't have any digestives at all. I didn't really want to go hunting around Edinburgh for biscuits as it was getting late, to it was time to deploy my trusted problem solving technique. I went and had a cup of tea.

Feeling refreshed and inspired by the brew, I realised that oat cakes go well with cheese and so would probably make a reasonable base for a cheese cake. So, I purchased a couple of packs of plain, Scottish oatcakes. Once I got the ingredients home, it was a simple matter of following the standard cheese cake recipe. I broke up the oatcakes and blended them with some butter to form the base material, which I then pressed into the bottom of a round, spring-form cake tin. I think mixed the Crowdie cream cheese with caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, before gently folding in some whipped double cream. I then gently spooned this over the base and left it in the fridge over night to set.

I think it turned out rather well, although I have to say that the Crowdie cheese really does taste of cheese, which made for an interesting flavour when mixed with the cream, sugar and lemon juice. The key test was that several of my colleagues had second helpings, so it can't have been all that bad!


James said...

How British was the lemon juice? Is it possible to find any British grown lemons?

Dr. B said...

Thanks for the comment James! Though you are quite right, the lemon juice was almost certainly not British. I think it would be possible to grow lemons in a green house in Britain, but I doubt it would be viable on a commercial scale. Mind you, it's surprising what is produced commercially, so I shall be keeping a look out!