Cheesecake is the common denominator.
This year was the first year in years that both of my grandmothers have spent Mother’s Day with our family. My dad’s mum is usually treated to lunch in the city by her daughter; we usually hang out with Mum’s mum, who lives less than an hour away. That is, if Oma (Mum’s mum, Dutch, world traveller) isn’t jet setting off across Australia, visiting her other children and grandchildren.
According to Nana (Dad’s mum, lives in the eastern suburbs, memory like an elephant) this year was the first since the first year of Mum and Dad’s marriage that we celebrated all three mothers on Mother’s Day. And when you have three mothers, you have to make them all feel special, because motherhood is hard and children are ungrateful. (I say this as one of those perennially ungrateful children; this is not the place for self-reflection but I’m not going to lie). Mothers deserve to be celebrated. So I had planned to make breakfast, because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, but of course dessert was in order as well. It’s a celebration, people.
Which brings us back to cheesecake. None of the mothers are particularly picky eaters, but cheesecake is definitely a favourite. It’s not too sweet, it doesn’t have to be too rich and it’s a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves cheesecake. My mum loves cheesecake so much, her favourite cookbook is one devoted entirely to different varieties of it. Each of the recipes that she (or another of my family, I’m not going to discriminate, my dad and brothers can cook, too) has tried is labelled and dated, so that they try every recipe at least once before repeating, because it would be too easy to stick to the obvious favourites. Which is a bit of a shame, seeing as I don’t live there anymore. I missed the cappuccino cheesecake. Dang.
This time, ricotta cheesecake was the order of the day and it was delicious. It is definitely a special occasion cake; it has over 1¼ kilos of fresh ricotta in it, which is fine by me. I love fresh ricotta a ridiculous amount. (I’ve had my eye on this recipe since it came out. Maybe during the holidays?) It suits both my grandmothers, as it’s not too sweet and rich, and it was perfect with just a dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Decadent, but not too much after a roast dinner with all the trimmings.
Treat yourself. Or your mama, it doesn’t need to be Mother’s Day.
Much love, friends.
– e xx
Adapted from Fresh & Tasty Cheesecakes
200 g sweet biscuits, crushed
1.3 kg fresh ricotta (I really recommend you go to the deli section of your supermarket and splurge on the good stuff. It’s worth it!)
2 cups white sugar
8 eggs, separated
1/2 cup plain flour
zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup thickened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 220°C/430°F and line a 10″ springform tin with baking paper.
Sprinkle the crushed biscuits over the lined tin until they cover the bottom completely. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth, at least 5 minutes. Add in 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat well.
Add in egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition; then add the flour, vanilla and lemon zest and beat well.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites with remaining half cup of sugar until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in about a third of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the rest of the egg whites with the whipped cream.
Carefully pour the mixture on top of the crushed biscuits into your springform tin. Smooth out the top with a spatula, then place the cake in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F and bake a further 1 hour. Let cool in oven for an hour, then take the cake out and let it completely cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.