My very first job after graduation was at the Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch. I was employed in the pastry department of the main hotel. I can say with the absolute certainty of a girl who has eaten her way through many a dessert that this appointment single handedly produced some grievous changes to my young figure (a most kind and generous description).
At the time of my tenure the kitchen was run by a female executive chef. What I remember about this chef in particular is not her name, although I would hazard a guess at it beginning with the letter M, not her ability in the kitchen because I can recall that she was so very seldom in it, but what I do remember of her with spine chilling clarity is the week of the wretched cheesecake.
Chef M (no reason not to go with that I guess) was writing a new menu and had her heart set on it including a baked cheesecake, soft and smooth with the lightness of a fridge tart just like her grandma used to make.
Some twenty to twenty five cheesecake recipes later, I managed to produce a cheesecake which pleased a fussy chef and was deemed worthy enough to be added onto the menu.
And this is that recipe.
I cannot really recall what Chef M said to me that day, but I do remember feeling quite marvelous for it indeed. In fact, I unashamedly nurtured the hard earned feeling of delight in this accomplishment, after what had been a very tiring and criticism laden week.
On our trip away, an excruciating experience reminded me again that although we may not remember the words, we will always remember how they made us feel. I recognised the importance of choosing and delivering words wisely. Even those words which are meant for good but by definition sound quite harsh, might be spoken in a manner that allows them to land with a softness or even a certain gentleness, not unlike the touch of this cheesecake on your tongue.
What you need
150g tennis biscuits, crushed
50 g sugar
50 g butter, melted
1.250 kg smooth cream cheese (5 tubs)
350 g caster sugar
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
20 g flour
1 vanilla pod
3. Press this mixture into a well-greased baking tin.
4. Spoon all the cream cheese into the bowl of your electric mixer.
5. Using the mixer on a medium setting, slowly add the sugar about a quarter cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth.
6. Turning down the speed to avoid splashing, add the whole eggs and the egg yolks one at a time.
7. Beat in the flour.
8. Slice the vanilla pod and use the back of a teaspoon or a small knife to scrape out the seeds and stir these into the mixture.
9. Fill the cake tin with the mixture.
10. Bake in a preheated oven at 120˚C for 10 minutes.
11. Reduce the heat to 100˚C for a further 1 hour.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. The cake should feel set towards the outside of the pan but should still appear a little wobbly in the very center. That is just how you want it.
13. Refrigerate overnight.
14. Remove from the tin and for easy slicing use a knife warmed in hot water.