Classic Baked Cheesecake

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‘We die and decay– or are burned– to come up again as wheat or roses, which in turn may form the bodies of future generations of people. Decay is the inevitable and necessary consequence of finite corporeal mortal life.’– Slightly morbid but beautiful quote of the day.

Lots of school, lots of reading, lots of fun. A lot of hesitation, but my head throbs with the chilling promise of a new day, each day.

So I could describe the entirety of my childhood in terms of cheesecake. It was definitely, undoubtedly, completely, a significant part of the reality I encased myself in. There was no such thing as no cheesecake twice a week, and yes, it did my soul a world of good, it was a chunk of my world and sometimes the world itself, when I didn’t feel like facing the real one. This was before I knew anything about the reality of the dairy industry, before I knew how much better it felt to put into myself a real damn cheesecake. A harmless, do-good cheesecake. So I was determined to make one. A proper one. A baked, New York-style cheesecake, soft, dense yet fluffy on the inside, firm and lightly browned everywhere else. They say anything made vegan is a compromise, which is true only if you’re not aware of what goes on in the food you enjoy on a day-to-day basis. Here is a cheesecake I made twice because I got so passionate about it. The ingredients are simple, the product flawless.

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Whilst meddling about experimenting with Minimalist Baker’s infamous recipe, I realised I could make the crust and filling, leave it in the fridge to set and then bake when I wanted it to (you don’t have to leave it in the fridge before baking though, I just did so due to time issues). Baking it together, without changing the temperature halfway, yielded an equally delicious and beautiful result.

No hint of hubris. It’s just a good, dense, flavourful vegan cheesecake.

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Classic Baked Vegan Cheesecake (Serves 8-10, adapted from Minimalist Baker’s stunner of a recipe)

Ingredients

For the crust:

70g (about a half cup) rolled or porridge oats

90g raw almonds (optional:sub with cashews)

pinch of sea salt

2 tbsp coconut/brown sugar

60g coconut oil, either melted or at least at room temperature

 

For the filling:

120g (1 cup) raw cashews

250g (1 cup) coconut cream

220g (about a tub) vegan cream cheese

1 tbsp cornstarch

150ml (half a cup+ 2 tbsp) maple syrup

1 tsp fine salt

juice of one lemon+the zest of the lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

The night or day before you bake the cheesecake, put the cashews for the filling in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight on your counter or in the fridge. You can also do this for half an hour if you have the time earlier on in the day.

The next day, drain the soaked cashews and set aside. Preheat your oven to 170C and ready a 9-inch springform pan. In a food processor or blender, put in the ingredients for the crust and whizz it up until you can press the crust with your fingers and they stick a little. The crust should not be too oily to touch. Press this into a 9-inch springform pan and put it in the fridge to firm up a little while you make the filling.

Briefly wipe down your blender/food processor (don’t go all out to clean here yet!) and whack in your filling ingredients, including the soaked cashews. Blend everything together until you get a smooth, white creamy product. There are usually still bits of cashews after blending for a minute, so continue to blend until everything is smooth and bit-less. Pour this on your crust and then bake for 50 minutes. Check at 50 minutes– the top should be lightly browned. If not, continue baking until you see a light golden colour on top.

Remove, let cool on the counter for a half hour before moving it to the fridge to set a little more.

Enjoy with some vegan whipped cream or coconut yoghurt. Beautiful on its own as well. Dana did such a fantastic job with this recipe, and I’m dying for everyone else to try it! My favourite pairing is with berries and basil, as may be observed in the picture just above the recipe.

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