Last Tuesday was my mums birthday, and today was my day for baking her a lovely birthday cake; or so I thought. She had originally asked for a lemon cake but changed her mind, requesting cheesecake instead and to be truthful I’m very glad she did, as it gave me chance to cook from Grand Livre De Cuisine: Desserts and Pastries (Alain Ducasse & Frederic Robert) which was a birthday present of mine earlier in the month.
I love this book, just to look at the photographs is wonderful but the recipes are to die for.
Dessert and pastry recipes are presented on double-page spreads and illustrated with close-up photos of the finished dishes. Pastries, viennoiseries, breads and rolls, candies, chocolate creations, ice creams and sorbets, fruits and flavourings: everything is included, from traditional and basic recipes to more audacious creations such as Raviole d’Agrumes, jus de citronnelle et jus de fruits de la passion frais and Fondant de chocolat au the Earl Grey. This all-inclusive book encompasses gourmet delights from around the world, such as Tiramisu a notre facon, Coupe Cheesecake and Pavlova, each adapted to reflect the authors’ distinctive flair.
Organised by main ingredient, the structure of the book reflects the philosophy of Alain Ducasse, who says that culinary techniques should enhance and bring out an ingredient’s true nature, not mask it.
Many of the recipes look incredibly complicated due to the presentation of the food but although I’d say they’re for the confident cook they’re not unachievable in your home kitchen. Most do not require fancy equipment or very hard to find ingredients and given a little time and patience can be recreated with relative ease.
So I went for the basic cheesecake recipe, which can be found below, and then adapted it very basically by adding a few drops of lemon oil and some lemon zest to the cheesecake filling.
I made one large traditional round cheesecake and for presentation purposes after dinner I made some small individual cheesecakes in brioche moulds. Which cooked very quickly and looked great – possibly a quick way of making cheesecake, if another method was used; I will certainly be testing it out.
The main difference with Alain’s cheesecake and the more typical American style ones is the crust. Here Alain uses a sweet pastry instead of the biscuit crumb base, encasing the cheese in an even better protective layer and adding a buttery depth to the proceedings.
The cheesecake was baked very slowly in a bain marie and kept a wonderfully soft, luscious textured, almost mousse like belly, which remained to have a slight wobble as it was forked up.
Above that we have a lovely vanilla set cream, almost panna cotta like, which despite being incredibly rich, seemed to cut through the slight sharpness of the cheese and buttery pastry so well.
So cheesecake has reached its higher purpose, no longer a quick and easy pudding, but a classy and elegant dessert.
This is also my first entry to Sugar High Fridays (for more details please see the Blog Events page), which is being hosted by the marvelous Tartelette. If you haven’t already visited these fabulous blogs do – you’re bound to thoroughly enjoy them.