After hearing about the Secret Cake Club, I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in. It was the perfect excuse to get my bake on, and dust off some skills. The theme for the one I scored a place in was French. Now, everything I know about French baking is that it's notoriously 'finicky'...and that it's delicious. People get extremely passionate about their patisseries and I wanted to make something worthy of the theme, and the event. I didn't have time to learn the secrets of a perfect macaron foot. And I didn't want to splurge and buy myself Madeleine or financier trays. And the only French things I've had experience with - souffles and French Toast - are best served immediately (although someone brought a French Toast that was fantastic!)
So, me being me, I thought I'd go a little bit out of the box and bake something "French", rather than a traditional French baked good that I probably wouldn't do justice. So, what's French? For me, that's cheese and wine. Specifically, soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert. And red wine, like a Cab Sauv, or a Burgundy. The idea for a French Cheese French Cheesecake was borne. It just needed a little fleshing out.
One of my other left-field ideas was to use French Lentils as my "Frenchness". I toasted (on a tray in an 165C oven for around 10 minutes) and ground some lentils into flour to experiment with and found they gave a lovely nutty flavour, but made for the crumbliest of biscuits. A little bit of reading informs me that pulse flours need to be used in combination with other flours because of the lack of gluten, and some arrowroot powder will help it 'stick' and bind together. Voila! Perfect. I changed a simple Sables Breton into an even more French Biscuit by adding French Lentils. The cheesecake was bake on top, and the crowning glory comes from Cabernet Sauvignon Caramel Figs. Traditional French? No. Skamp's French? Totally!
French Lentil Sable Breton
makes a 23cm cheesecake -serves 10-12
(adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
(adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
240g butter, softened
6 egg yolks
260g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ginger powder
105g french lentil flour
10g arrowroot powder
115g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 165C. Line the bottom of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking powder and lightly grease the tin.
In a small bowl with a handbeater,beat the butter until very fluffy and pale. This will take around 3 minutes. In a standmixer, whisk the egg yolks until creamy, slowly adding the caster sugar until it's all combined. Beat until this is also very light and fluffy. Add the butter in 3 batches, beating until smooth. Then beat in the ginger.
Turn the beater off, then sift the flours and baking powder over the top, then fold until just combined. Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth down the top. Baked until golden and puffed, around 25 minutes. Set aside to cool completely in the tin.
350g cream cheese, at room temperature
350g Brie cheese, at room temperature, rind removed.
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 165C
In a medium bowl with a handbeater, beat the brie until light and fluffy. This will alter in time, depending on the softness of the brie you bought, but it could take a few minutes.
In a standmixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the brie, then the eggs and cream. Make sure it's well-combined, but don't over beat because the cheese can separate.
Pour the cheesemix over the sable breton base and tap the container on your counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
Fill a roasting tray with boiling water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Pop the cheesecake on the middle rack. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set with a tiny amount of jiggle in the centre.
Set aside to cool to room temperature
Cabernet Sauvignon Caramel Figs
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon red wine
1 tsp water
6 figs, sliced into quarters
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and 1/4 cup of water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then leave it to boil and become a lovely caramel colour. Stir via shaking the handle here and there to keep the liquid moving. And brush any sugar crystals that form down with a wet pastry brush.
When caramel coloured, very carefully add the red wine and extra teaspoon of water. It will fizz and spit at you. Stir through and mix until smooth. Using two forks, drop the fig slices in the caramel, then place on the cake. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the top. You can briefly reheat the caramel over a low heat if it starts getting too solid.