Thursday, 1 January 2015

London Cheesecake

Now this is a treat from my childhood.  In those days they were known just as cheesecakes.  But I suppose with the advent of that glutinous, cloying cheesy type tart that is so popular these days my childhood favourite has had to change its' name.

A London Cheesecake is a puff pastry with a jam and frangipane 'filling', topped with icing and shredded, sweetened coconut.  It has absolutely nothing to do with cheese.  Some think it may relate to the similarity of the shredded coconut, which does look a little like grated cheese. To find a recipe was quite difficult, and I opted for one that didn't work well, it suggested two layers of pastry, with jam and frangipane in the middle. I did that, but the result was that the pastry wasn't cooked properly, and it also curled up at the edges.  Luckily I had made my own puff pastry, from a Paul Hollywood recipe, and there was enough left to do another batch, using a different recipe.   This recipe accorded more accurately with my memory, in that the frangipane and jam were placed on top of the pastry, rather than inside.  The results were much better.

Traditionally I think London Cheesecakes were round, but those available in Greggs(without the frangipane I think, or not very much of it) are square.  I guess this is to limit the wastage of pastry that results in cutting out circles.  Anyway, I made mine square, as I wasn't sure, after my first attempt, whether I would have enough pastry left.  I also think I cut them smaller than I needed to.  I made quite small ones, I think that a larger square, with a reduced number of cakes would actually have been better.  But I am very happy with the result.  I found the recipe on Bakinglady's blog

Now for the recipe, I did, as I mentioned earlier, make my own puff pastry.  That is likely to be the first and only time I do that.  It was a very long-winded exercise and, although it worked out fine, I was not confident of the results.  In fact it took a full 24 hours, resting the dough for 7 hours, then working it into layers, with resting again with each turn, and then resting overnight after that.   I am sure that shop bought puff pastry would be perfectly adequate.  So below I will simply detail what to do, assuming the puff pastry is already available.  If you wish to make your own you can check out Paul Hollywood's recipe here. As I said it works very well, but take a lot of time.


London Cheesecake

 I had half of my 600gram self made block of puff pastry left, but now recommend shop bought.  I think you can buy ready rolled as well.

Ingredients:
375g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
75g butter
75g caster sugar
75g self raising flour
1large egg, beaten
30g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
200g Icing sugar, sieved
2 ½ tablespoons water
50g Sweetened shredded coconut( you can use dessicated as shredded is difficult to find, mine arrived courtesy of my sister in Canada, where it is to be found easily).


Method:
Preheat your oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4
Cream the butter, sugar and almond extract together.
Slowly add the egg and mix thoroughly
Add the flour and ground almonds and mix together, then set aside.
Roll out the pastry and cut it into 12 squares (you can use rounds, but will waster pastry).
Place the squares on baking sheets(I used two sheets)
Put a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each square
Carefully cover the jam(entirely to avoid seepage) with the almond mixture( about a tablespoon)
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, ensuring that the mixture doesn't burn, but the pastry browns nicely.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool as you prepare the icing.
Take the icing sugar and add 2 tablespoons of water.  
Mix together to form a thick paste.  If it is too thick add a little more water, but only a little you don't want a loose icing)
Spoon icing onto each of the cooled cakes, using a spatula to spread it over the top.
Sprinkle coconut over the top of each cake and gently press into the icing.
Eat and enjoy this lovely cake.





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