There’s no cheesecake recipe in this post, my dear readers, because I completely screwed up everything that I could while making it. But please do read it and not repeat my mistakes :)
It was a strange couple of weeks for me. And I’m still in transition to try and pull myself out of it. Well, I have so much to tell and nothing at the same time.. For example, how I’m impressed and annoyed at the same time with old ladies in Turkey crossing the road without looking around with their grandchildren hand in hand completely stunned by the noise of passing cars. And they just GO! and drag the kids along, as if they own the road and nothing can stop them. Makes me scared when I see it.
Then, about The Tea. The Turkish Tea.
If I learned anything during the time I live here is The Tea should never, and I mean N-E-V-E-R get cold. And every time I go to kitchen to get a tea refill from my electric dual turkish tea-pot (one pot for a strong tea brew and the other for hot water), I should not forget to turn it back on “warming” option. Otherwise everybody gets upset, especially The Tea itself. Why? Because if it got cold, I can’t possibly think I can warm it up again, can I? Also the brew has to be the right color, and The Tea leaves must be washed with a little cold water before brewing, otherwise it’ll not be good. I think people here are able to tell by taste whether it was or wasn’t washed. This is somewhat complicated if you’re used to teabags and drinking tea from a huge mug.. And all my life I was told that UK was the land of tea culture, with all their five-o’clocks and expensive china and tea biscuits and cookies. I honestly think learning to make The Tea here is just as important as learning Turkish language.. Actually, The Tea might be more important :) But after all I have to tell you that real Turkish Tea, washed, brewed and kept warm and all, drunk within next 30 min to one hour from little tea glasses one by one tastes really really nice. And I don’t think I am ever going back to the mug-style.
Finally, about my cheesecake disaster. It’s difficult to find cream cheese as we know it in Turkey. I learned from my mistake of buying krem peynir (which is literally translated as cream cheese), but found out it was more of a thick yellow cheese spread to put on bread or crackers. Philadelphia was seen once in an online food market (where I shop for foods I can’t find in the supermarket, such as rolled oats, buckwheat, vanilla beans etc.), but it seemed too expensive to use it for a cheesecake. And I haven’t found Mascarpone cheese anywhere. Finally I found out that there’s a great alternative to a cream cheese which is labneh cheese – it is a light and airy cheese made from yogurt, with almost same texture as Philadelphia but a much higher water content and much lesser fat content.
I was determined to make a perfect cheesecake, I went through my recipes and seeked advice online about how labneh cheese behaves in the oven. Finally after carefully working on my recipe, last weekend I gave it try but it was certainly a baking bad day for me. I should’ve understood things were not going as planned when I was making a cracker crust in a zip bag just as I made for the banana yogurt pie and the plastic bag broke with half of my crust crumble falling on the kitchen floor. But I was stubborn and made it again. After I pressed the mixture into my round baking pan and prepared the batter I had a slight feeling something was wrong and it was indeed my baking pan that was too little. But I decided not to replace it and use cheesecake batter leftover later for something else. After my beautiful and wonderfuly smelling cheesecake went into the oven and I went around the house cleaning and doing other chores some time later I realized I forgot to put the timer on… Seriously, could it get any worse?! Long story short I pulled it out of the oven too early, though the edges were firm and the center was wobbly as it was supposed to be. I cooled it down completely, covered with a berry jelly-like sauce and let it rest in the fridge for 4 hours only to find out later, when I cut the first piece out, that it was undercooked. If you are making cheesecake make sure you don’t make my mistake… So what did I do? I scraped the sauce off the cake (can you believe it?), brough it to room temperature and baked it again in a slow oven, with the egdes covered with aluminium foil to prevent from burning, checking every 15 min or so until it baked through again. I let it sit in the oven for an hour, then cooled it down again and left in the fridge overnight.
Results: the cheesecake texture and taste were wonderful! A little tangy, soft, with a hint of citrus in the taste and perfectly crunchy crust.. So in extreme cases you can re-cook an undercooked cheesecake, even though it’s not advisable and has a high risk of overbaking it and cheese batter becoming grainy. And also you definitely can make a cheesecake with labneh cheese and get the right texture by adjusting eggs, flour and cornstarch in the recipe due to a high water content in labneh cheese.
I think you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that next day I
was making attempted to make caramel sauce and burned the pan. Lastly I understood it was not the cheesecake it was me who was a complete disaster. I left the cheesecake without any toppings and we ate it slowly throughout the week. The taste became even better after a couple of days. Cheesecakes can last for up to 2 weeks refrigerated and thoroughly covered.
I hope I’ll gather my confidence and will re-do it again, because the recipe is good, and I just have to adjust the crust recipe for the right pan size and make sure to use the timer this time and bake it correctly :)