The Designer Cheesecakes Issue of BetterBaking.com
!!!FREE!!! Deli Style Cheesecake|
Strawberry Rhubarb White Chocolate Cheesecake
Oreo Cookies 'N Cream Cheesecake Truffles
Classic New York Style Strawberry Cheesecake
Greek Filo Custard Pastries
Giant Mall Style Sand Cookies
Leftover Potato or Summer Spuds Bread
Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends,
Why ever do I think summer is easy living when June is a congestion of end-of-the-school-year, convocations (this year, this house), back-to-back sons’ birthday, starting summer jobs, starting camp, baseball mania and tango in the park? It’s anything but! Fortunately, summer only starts busy but somehow, once you adjust to the pace, ends mellow. Best solution to frantic June? Just chill. Best chilled dessert? Cheesecake!
Nothing makes a bolder statement than cheesecake and nothing, save brownies, can accommodate a host of additives (meaning treats like nuts, chocolate, cookie chunks etc.) better than cheesecake. Cheesecake, glamour-girl that she is, is no sweat and relatively low-maintenance. Heck – you can pretty well slice and dice and anything from the pastry kitchen, put in the batter and still have something swell. I call my cheesecakes ‘designer’ because they are all one of kind, in a collection that is sure to create cheesecake envy.
There are some cheesecake basics you should know. For instance, use large eggs (not extra large), pure vanilla extract (prices are coming down!). Make the eggs and the cream cheese (and not whipped, watery cream cheese; solid, block cream cheese) room temperature. Have a few great springform pans (higher and heavier weight, the better) and take time to finish off each cheesecake you do like art. That last truc de patisseriere is key. Remember, when it comes to cheesecakes, it’s not where you start; it’s how you finish them. That’s the difference between ordinary cheesecake and a legend. There is no point using $30-$40 worth of ingredients only to offer up something that looks, well, tasty but homespun. Go that extra mile. It is what separates (and pardon me for saying it thus) hausfrau/Desperate Housewives cheesecake from the stuff out of the sort of bakeries that the stars purportedly order from while on location (well, Style Magazine says so). Finishing touches –that’s the ticket.
Aside from these tricks of the trade, when you make a cheesecake, be fearless, be bold, go where no baker has gone before. There is not one that cannot be rescued or resuscitated unless….well, unless you experience something along the lines of my own cheesecake beginnings. Read on.
As for my other recipes this month, they are a bit like Mambo No. 5, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As always, faced with the logical prospect of ‘10 Easy Cool Low-Fat Make-Ahead Salads, and a Super Duper Father’s Day feast and “3 New Summer Smoothies – I just headed to the flour bin and butter, my baker’s palette and just started inventing. I just can’t help it. But I do suggest some pizza on the grill (from the Archives), and famed Chicken Under a Brick and Vinegar wings, if you chasing something savory.
I wish you all, whatever you are off to, or starting or ending this fine June, my good wishes from Wheatland, where the temperatures promise to be the same: a balmy high and low, day in and day out, of 350 F degrees; no sun block required.)
Happy Baking everyone,
Wheat Siren & Wordsmith
Host and Editor
The Monthly Marcy Essay…….
Trial By Cheesecake, Wherein Our Heroine Invents Collapsing Cheesecake and Is Forced to Leave Dodge City……
When I think of cheesecake, I seem to have countless stories to spin. But I think particularly of two cheesecake chapters. One is an Oreo Cheesecake Disaster (see When Baker’s Write or The Best of BetterBaking.com) and the other one, told publicly for the first time, is this one. For Adventures in Oreo Cheesecake, see When Baker's Write)
My very first professional pastry job was far too big for me. I went from baking on a rented oven in a small apartment to conning a caterer into thinking I could bake for West Point and take on Paris with my prowess. I had just started selling cakes to restaurants at that point and must have believed my own press. At any rate, it gave me enough confidence to go further afield. I found a place that I contacted by phone and I simply raved about my cheesecake. I got the gig. In short, I all but convinced my new boss that I had invented cheesecake. This was a place that had everything but no, as far as I could tell, decent cheesecake in their repertoire. I told my boss that I had my grandmother’s secret recipe (Grandma Goldman never made cheesecake; only banana or chocolate layer cake) and she had got the recipe from the pastry chef of the Czar. No, he did not ask which Czar but since he believed me I am not sure who was nuttier but the claim served its purpose.
Although Events By Edward had a pastry chef, they anticipated more clients for summer and I was hired on the spot. The pastry chef in residence gave me a cool hello. Alright, he more or less growled and started hacking Valrohna semi-sweet chocolate with alarming speed and energy – the chocolate bits fairly flew, like wood chips, into the air. Suffice to say, I don’t think he was taking my arrival well. He then promptly turned on his heel, got some hardware and nailed shut the small supply cupboard (vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, salt and other essentials). Well, hello to you too, I thought. Don’t get up, don’t say hello.
His mandate was: make everything. Mine was: just do the cheesecakes. That was only cause d’etre. I marveled at the resident pastry chef for his skill and experience. He was my first up-close and personal view of a pro in the kitchen.
I also noted he had this nifty Sears red toolbox, filled with pastry and baking essentials. Very cool. He also could do any and everything, blindfolded.
As inept as I was (think I Love Lucy in flour), which shows you the reality of envy (like, there is none), he was threatened by my presence and begrudgingly shared information with me – like where the oven was (in the kitchen with the kitchen guys, some half mile away from the pastry kitchen), like the fact that only two of three decks on the oven worked, and the fact that the Hobart mixer which looked like a spa hot tub, could host about 10 cheesecakes. To me, it looked mammoth and in my head, I was thinking that baby could churn out 40 cakes, no problem. After months of baking at home for restaurants, using domestic equipment, I was foaming at the mouth to give the mixer a whirl.
One day, said pastry chef had to go work on location and make crepes Suzettes for a debutante’s brunch. I was given an order to make 20 cheesecakes for society “Are you sure you are all right with this?” asked Edward, my boss, who alternated between being frantic/happy/hyper and morose and dark. One day, life was good and business was on the edge of being a Fortune 500 company and the next, for no reason, Edward's mood would plummet. One minute he was cajoling/favorite funny uncle to life-is-Pure Hell-why-bother-living. (I later found out he suffered a polar disorder and tossed his meds into the eggplant peelings every other morning)
I made a point of treading softly on those latter days. At the staff meal (another chapter, another book), conversation, as a result of these very diverse and unpredictable moods, was either happy and vital or reminiscent of the last scene in an Arthur Miller play.
“Yes –no problem”, I told Edward “I can make the cakes’. It was Friday – the cakes were for a Sunday morning affair to be held at an illustrious and historical club. I was to make the cakes, garnish the tops but leave them molded. The serving staff would unmold them at the event on Sunday. ” I spent about two hours scaling up my domestic cheesecake recipe to make a batch of 30 or so cheesecakes, while the cream cheese and eggs sat out, warming up. I preheated the three-decks/only one works’ oven. I cleared space in the walk-in to chill the cheesecakes.
I was thrilled to have the pastry kitchen to myself – no Sears-toting, angry other chef to snap at me. I unnailed the ingredient pantry (having brought my own hammer to work) and got started.
Well, here’s the thing. A 10-quart Hobart will do about 5 10-inch cheesecakes. In my zeal and lack of experience (and no one to consult with), I figured it could hold at least 35. Reality bit when somewhere around the halfway point of adding the eggs, the batter rose dangerously close to the edge of the Hobart bowl. I cautiously added an egg, and then another, lowering the speed of the mixer with each egg. When batter began flinging itself on the walls, splattering me in a cream cheese rainstorm, I quickly stopped the machine. A dozen eggs remaining to be added. I left them out. I know – what was I thinking?
I first scooped batter, and then poured it as the bowl got lighter, into the awaiting cheesecake pans. Imagine my horror when, as I got to the last 5 cakes, I saw totally coagulated rims of cream cheese, thick collars of unblended cream cheese clinging to the pan interior. This meant, the previous 25 cheesecakes were more like cheese milkshakes and the five final ones would be thicker than cement. I froze. But, and this is the charming and grim part of being 22, I figured, no one would notice and somehow, some way, the fridge would chill the cakes up fine. Well, it did actually, I baked the cakes - and yes, they took about 4 hours to bake instead of an hour (not a good sign) and then refrigerated them. I did note they took longer than usual – I could have expected that - but in the end, they did seem to set up. The operative phrase here is “seemed to’.
I went home, flaked out and forgot all about it.....until Monday morning when I went back to work.
Edward, meds or not, was seething. Screeching! Apparently, once the serving staff had unmolded each and every cake, they each dissolved in a puddle of molten cheesecake batter on the sweet table at this illustrious wedding at this elegant club. In fact, the cakes deflated and then sprawled across the serving platters and leached their soggy cream cheese batter and sad, messy strawberries and apricot glaze into the French pastries and petites fours. In the corner, the other pastry chef smiled quietly. He had won the day. I felt scalded in shame and slunk out. I was told to pick up my last paycheck the next morning.
When I returned the next day, no one knew where my last paycheck was because, overnight, and for no reason I have ever found out, the place had been ransacked! Thugs had come in and destroyed the entire Events By Edward in was turned out to be a settling of accounts and a better explanation to Edward’s chronic moodiness. The other pastry chef handed me whatever tools I had left there and in a moment of solitary – for he too, was on his way out – we shook hands and he just said – “You bake well –no hard feelings. Maybe one day you will be a mother and your kids will have a great baker for a mom.” Right. A baking mom....versus.....a pro.
A week later I applied for the job of Head Baker at Earth Moon Holistic Café Bookstore and Bakery (one of my best unwritten chapters/stayed tuned). This time, I had caught my breath. I knew from Hobart mixer capacities and had no other resident, growling other chefs to deal with. I was hired on the spot to create a line of cheesecakes, carrots cake, buttermilk muffins (aka Lawsuit Muffins), and more. On the way out of my interview I heard the new boss whisper to his secretary “Did you see her Sears toolbox? She has all her gear in there! Cool”. Insert a meow, tweak of little whiskers (mine) and a perky smile here.
And as for my pastry chef cohort for Events by Edward? A year later when I applied to the Quebec Hotel School to earn my whites as a professional pastry chef, guess who ended up with me, in the four-year program? Right. I still remember his wide-eyed look and one hissed word: You!? when he saw me that first day in the student lounge. My pastry chef friend and ex-Edward colleague found it a blow that we ended up at the same level. But we became friends – he had no choice – fate dealt him a hard hand. Our class was 15 men and two women and I instantly had 15 wonderful, attentive, protective pastry chef brothers that would have done much to protect my honor. Also, once I mastered the Hobart at hotel school, I clearly had the best cheesecake recipes in the class and my reputation for those, and giving birth to a son between Mastering Commercial Pastry and Introduction to Yeast Breads was renown. As a matter of record, my pastry chef friend/foe now has three kids (which I suppose, makes him a Baking Dad) and I have three kids. He eventually opened his own place and me? I went on to bake and write cookbooks, create this website and invent yet more cheesecakes that are so incredible……..if only Edward (and the Czar) only knew! And I still tote that red Sears toolbox any time I go on road to teach. Props, much like a great cheesecake recipe, are everything.
This essay is dedicated to my eldest son, a jazz musician and composer who graduates college this June, and then is off to university and a career in Music, and for whom, 'cheesecake' is the swingin' beat and a string of Louis Armstrong lyrics.
Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy:
Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, ‘I’ve know the feeling; I know the place”. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.
- March 2018 A Note From Marcy - March 2018
- February 2018 A Note from Marcy - February 2018
- December 2017 A Note from Marcy - December 2017
- November 2017 A Note from Marcy - November 2017
- October 2017 A Note from Marcy - October 2017
- September 2017 A Note from Marcy - September 2017
- August 2017 A Note from Marcy - August 2017
- July 2017 A Note from Marcy - July 2017
- June 2017 A Note from Marcy - June 2017
- May 2017 A Note from Marcy - May 2017
- April 2017 A Note from Marcy - April 2017
- March 2017 A Note from Marcy - March 2017
- February A Note from Marcy - February 2017
- Betterbaking.com 2017 All Recipes Listing - January 2017
- January 2017 A Note from Marcy - January 2017
- Winter 2016 BB Best Gifts Round-Up - December 2016
- December 2016 A Note from Marcy - December 2016
- November 2016 A Note from Marcy - November 2016
- October 2016 A Note from Marcy - October 2016
- September 2016 A Note from Marcy - September 2016
- August 2016 A Note from Marcy - August 2016
- June 2016 A Note from Marcy - June 2016
- July 2016 A Note from Marcy - June 2016
- May 2016 A Note from Marcy - May 2016
- April 2016 A Note from Marcy - April 2016
- March 2016 A Note from Marcy - March 2016
- February 2016 A Note from Marcy - February 2016
- January 2016 A Note from Marcy - January 2016
- December 2015 A Note from Marcy - December 2015
- November 2015 A Note from Marcy - November 2015
- September 2015 A Note from Marcy - September 2015
- August 2015 A Note from Marcy - August 2015
- July 2015 A Note from Marcy - July 2015
- June 2015 A Note from Marcy - June 2015
- May 2015 A Note from Marcy - May 2015
- April 2015 A Note from Marcy - April 2015
- March 2015 A Note from Marcy - March 2015
- February 2015 A Note from Marcy - February 2015
- January 2015 A Note from Marcy - January 2015
- December 2014 A Note from Marcy - December 2014
- November 2014 A Note From Marcy - November 2014
- October A Note from Marcy - October 2014
- September 2014 A Note from Marcy - September 2014
- August 2014 A Note from Marcy - August 2014
- July 2014 A Note from Marcy - July 2014
- June 2014 A Note from Marcy - June 2014
- May 2014 A Note from Marcy - May 2014
- April 2014 A Note from Marcy - April 2014
- March 2014 A Note from Marcy - March 2014
- February 2014 A Note from Marcy - February 2014
- January 2014 A Note from Marcy - January 2014
- December 2013 A Note from Marcy - December 2013
- November 2013 A Note from Marcy - November 2013
- October 2013 A Note from Marcy - October 2013
- September 2013 A Note from Marcy - September 2013
- August 2013 A Note from Marcy - August 2013
- July 2013 A Note from Marcy - July 2013
- June 2013 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - June 2013
- May 2013 A Note from Marcy - May 2013
- April 2013 A Note from Marcy Baker's Stash - April 2013
- March 2013 A Note from Marcy - March 2013
- February 2013 A Note from Marcy - February 2013
- January 2013 A Note from Marcy - January 2013
- December 2012 A Note from Marcy - December 2012
- November 2012 A Note from Marcy - November 2012
- October 2012 A Note from Marcy - October 2012
- September 2012 A Note from Marcy - September 2012
- August 2012 A Note from Marcy Baker's Stash - August 2012
- July 2012 A Note from Marcy Baker's Stash - July 2012
- May 2012 A Note from Marcy - May 2012
- April 2012 Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - April 2012
- March 2012 A Note From Marcy - March 2012
- February 2012 A Note from Marcy - February 2012
- January 2012 A Note from Marcy - January 2012
- December 2011 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - December 2011
- November 2011 Note from Marcy Bakers Stash - November 2011
- October 2011 Note From Marcy Baker's Stash - October 2011
- September 2011 A Note from Marcy - September 2011
- August 2011 (1) Note From Marcy - August 2011
- June 2011 Note from Marcy - June 2011
- May 2011 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash - May 2011
- March 2011 A Note From Marcy - March 2011
- February 2011 A Note From Marcy, Baker's Stash - February 2011
- January 2011 A Note from Marcy - January 2011
- December 2010 Baker's Stash - December 2010
- November 2010 Baker's Stash - November 2010
- October 2010 Note from Marcy & Baker's Stash - October 2010
- September 2010 Note from Marcy & Baker's Stash - September 2010
- August 2010 Baker's Stash - August 2010
- July 2010 Baker's Stash, A Note from Marcy - July 2010
- June 2010 Baker's Stash - June 2010
- April 2010 BAKER'S STASH - April 2010
- March 2010 Baker's Stash, A Note From Marcy - March 2010
- 2003-2007 PAST ISSUES Note from Marcy & Recipes - February 2010
- January 2010 Baker's Stash - January 2010
- December 2009 Baker's Stash - December 2009
- September 2009 Baker's Stash - September 2009
- April 2009 Bakers Stash - April 2009
- March 2009 Baker's Stash Baking With Mom, Feminist in the Kitchen and some Retro - March 2009
- February 2009 Baker's Recipe Stash - February 2009
- January 2009 Baker's Stash - January 2009
- December 2008 Baker's Stash - December 2008
- November 2008 A Note From Marcy - November 2008
- September 2008 Baker's Stash - September 2008
- A note from Marcy - December 2007
- A Note from Marcy - February 2007 - An Oreo Love Affair
- A Note from Marcy - January 2007 - When Bakers Cook, Recipes deChef
- A Note from Marcy - December 2006 - Shortbread and Other Favorite Things
- A Note from Marcy - November 2006 - Thank Goodness for Pie
- A Note from Marcy - October 2006 - A Salute to Chocolate Chip Cookies
- A Note from Marcy - September 2006 - The Back to School Carrot Cake Issue
- A Note From Marcy - August 2006 - The Sourdough Magic Issue
- A Note from Marcy - July 2006 - The Annual BB Picnic Issue
- A Note from Marcy - June 2006 - The Bountiful Berry Issue
- A Note from Marcy - May 2006 - Pride and Pastry or Tea With Jane
- A Note from Marcy - April 2006 - The Breakfast Baking Issue and Fresh Starts
- A Note from Marcy March 2006 Passion - Gettin' Some - March 2006 - Havana A Heat Wave, Baking with A Latin Beat and The Passion Play
- A Note from Marcy - February 2006 - Memoirs of A Geisha Baking, Valentine’s Sweets
- A Note from Marcy - January 2006 - The You're Toast, A Salute To Slicing Loaves and More
- A Note from Marcy - December 2005 - Bake It Forward, Gift Baking Issue
- A Note from Marcy - November 2005 - Open Hearth Hosting or Guess Who's Coming For Dinner
- A Note from Marcy - October 2005 - It All Happens for a Reason or Sometimes Bread Just Doesn't Rise.....
- A Note from Marcy - September 2005 - Baking By the Code
- A Note from Marcy - August 2005 - The Tao of Pie
- A Note from Marcy - July 2005 - The Journey of the Journal plus Twix Bars!
- A Note from Marcy - May 2005 - The Frontier Baking Issue/Living Big in a Small Venue
- A Note from Marcy - April 2005 - When Harry Met Salad
- A Note from Marcy - March 2005 - Baking with an Irish Broque; A Romance in the Dairy Queen One Fine March
- A Note from Marcy - February 2005 - She Just Doesn’t Get Him, Valentine’s Day Rebuttal and Cupcakes Galore
- A Note from Marcy - January 2005 - The Art of Changing and Making Space in a New Year
- A Note from Marcy - December 2004 - The Shall We Dance or Shall We Bake, Holiday Baking Issue and an Ode to Dance
- A Note from Marcy - November 2004 - The Bread and Soup Issue and How A Canadian Became Americanized (sort of)
- A Note from Marcy - October 2004 - The Field of Dreams Issue, Baseball and the Baker
- A Note from Marcy - September 2004 - The Catcher of the Rye Issue, What Falls Away, the Sweet Taste of Forgiveness and Letting Go
- A Note from Marcy - August 2004 - It’s All Greek To Me Issue and The Evils of Multi-Tasking
- A Note from Marcy - July 2004 - The Gone Fishin’ Issue/Summer in the River City, A Baker’s Musical
- A Note from Marcy - June 2004 - The All That Jazz Issue, How To Scat and Improvise in Wheat
- A Note from Marcy - May 2004 - The Bread and Roses Issue, Goddess, Feminist or Feminine…and Fudge
- A Note from Marcy - April 2004 - Waiting for Happy, or If I Won the Lotto
- A Note from Marcy - March 2004 - Meet You in the Bookstore, My Love Affair with Books
- A Note from Marcy - February 2004 - Sweets for the Sweet, a Valentine From the Baker
- A Note from Marcy - January 2004 - How To Eat Right or Resolution 2004 – How Not To Diet
- A Note From Marcy - December 2003 - The Sugar and Spice Issue
- A Note from Marcy - November 2003 - How To Weather the Weather, or Keeping Cozy in Late Fall
- A Note from Marcy - October 2003 (Part 2) - They Laughed When I Got Up To Bake, Hotel School Trials
- A Note from Marcy - September 2003 - Welcome To Wheatland, a baker’s fantasy or Camelot in Flour
- A Note from Marcy - October 2003 (Part 1) - How I Got Into Baking, A Baker’s Beginnings Part 1
- A Note from Marcy - August 2003 - Notes on Homemade Krispie Kreme Doughnuts
- A Note From Marcy - July 2003 - Memories of Summer Music Camp or Baking to Birdland
- A Note From Marcy - June 2003 - How to Play Hooky in Summer, An Urban Adventure
- April 2011 A Note from Marcy, Baker's Stash
- October 2008 Baker's Stash
- May 2010 Baker's Stash
- Archived A Note from Marcy 2003 - 2017
- February 2009 Issue Baking by Heart Copy
- March 2009 Baker's Recipe Stash
- April 2009 Baker's Stash
- Archived Newsletters, A Note from Marcy 2004 - 2017
- 2003-2009 Note from Marcy Archives
- May 2017 Big Product Review Feature
- February 2009 Baker's Stash
- Karine Joncas Cosmetics