Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you had a great time. We certainly did. Lots of family, friends, food, presents, the usual Christmas stuff. All great, I just love it.
Everybody loves a good cheese cake too, isn’t it? I do too. Actually cheese cake might be my favorite kind of cake. I love the typical American cheese cake made with cream cheese and then baked but even more than that I love the typical German cheese cake, the fridge cake so to say, a cheese cake that gets set with the help of gelatine in the fridge. They taste so much lighter and tangy and fruity.
The gelatine used in Germany is sold either as powder, as leaves or instant. The instant one is easy to work with, just mix it with the other ingredients. I normally use the gelatine leaves, I can dose the quantity used more easily. The powdered one I use less frequently, mostly when making fondant to cover cakes or when a recipe requires powder gelatine very explicitly.
12 gelatine leaves are the equivalent of 2 packets powdered gelatine and are enough to set 1 liter/about 4 cups of liquid. 12 leaves weigh here 20 g/ 0.7 oz. They are not vegetarian, they are made of pig gelatine. Vegetarians use agar agar as an alternative, but I’ve never worked with that.
I realize that many people are a bit afraid of working with gelatine, but that is really not that hard, as long as you follow a few simple rules (and you give it a few tries:)). I don’t really know how gelatine is sold around the world, so work with what you have and don’t forget to read the instructions on the packet very carefully before starting.
Here are a few rules that will make working with gelatine easier:
- the milk products used to make the cheese mixture like yogurt, cream cheese, quark, heavy cream etc have to be at room temperature
- the gelatine has to soak according to the instructions written on the packet (normally 5 to 10 minutes)
- when you heat the gelatine, stay there and never ever let it boil; it will take just seconds (20-30) to dissolve it, just stay there and mix it gently with a spoon
- when you mix the yogurt or other milk product with the gelatine, always add the cheese mixture to the gelatine and not the other way around. Always mix one tablespoon at a time, mixing until one tablespoon has been totally incorporated before adding the next one. It will take a bit longer but you are safe this way. If you add too much at once, you will certainly end up with clumps in your mixture
- put the pot in the fridge while whipping the double cream, wait until the gelatine starts to set (won’t take long, it will only have to START to set) than fold in the heavy cream carefully. The time required for the cheese mixture to start setting depends on what you use, for example quark will start to set faster than yogurt because it is thicker than yogurt.
- if you need gelatine to set warm liquid things are a bit easier, just mix the soaked and dissolved gelatine into the warm liquid while stirring all the time
- if you need to mix the gelatine into hot liquid it is even more easy, just mix the soaked but not dissolved gelatine into the hot liquid
- the easiest method would be working with instant gelatine, which you will just have to mix with the yogurt or cream. I use that sometimes, but not very often, it is harder to dose, more expensive and sometimes I think I can taste it.
I know this seems like a lot but with a bit of practice you’ll be able to do it all the time without giving it too much thought. And the result is really worth it.
- Ingredients for the sponge mixture:
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 150 g/ ¾ cup sugar
- 80 g/ ½ cup + 1 tablespoon cup all-purpose flour
- 30 g/ ¼ cup starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Ingredients for the filling:
- 8 gelatine leaves
- 1 can apricots, drained weight 480 g/ 17 oz
- 300 g/ 1 ¼ cups yogurt
- 75 g/ ⅓ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 25 g/ ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- 250 g/ 1 cup heavy cream
- Ingredients for the topping:
- 4 tablespoons apricot preserve
- 1 tablespoon water
- chopped pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and cover a baking sheet (30 x 40 cm/ 12 x 15 inch) with baking paper.
- Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites and the 2 tablespoons warm water until stiff. Slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture gets stiff and glossy. Add the yolks and stir them in gently.
- Mix the flour and starch together, sift them over the egg mixture and fold in carefully. Pour everything in the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until golden.
- In the meantime place a clean kitchen towel on the table and sprinkle it with sugar all over.
- Take the sponge out of the oven, run with a knife around the edges and turn it onto the sugared towel. Remove the baking paper quickly but carefully. Let the sponge get cold than cut it in the middle so that you will have two equally large pieces of sponge.
- Soak the gelatine leaves according to the packet instructions.
- Drain the apricots. Puree half of then and cut the other half into small pieces.
- Stir the yogurt, sugar, lemon juice and pistachios together.
- Squeeze the gelatine gently, place it in a small pan (big enough to hold the yogurt mixture as well) and dissolve it on a very small flame, stirring continuously. Do not let it boil or get too hot, it will only take seconds until the gelatine is dissolved so don't leave it unattended. Remove from heat, add one tablespoon from the yogurt mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add another tablespoon of the mixture and incorporate completely again. Repeat until all the yogurt mixture is incorporated. Fold in the apricot puree and place the pan in the fridge.
- When the mixtures STARTS to thicken, whip the heavy cream, than fold it in carefully. Fold in the chopped apricots as well.
- Place one piece of sponge on a square serving tray. At this point I prefer to use a metallic baking frame (I have it round and square) to make sure that the filling won't leave the cake before setting. I place the frame around the cake, fit it well, than pour in the filling. Level and cover with the second piece of sponge. Press it down lightly. Place the cake in the fridge and let set completely, best leave it there over night.
- When completely set take out of the fridge. Run with a knife around the edges to loosen the frame, than remove the frame carefully.
- Mix the apricot preserve with the water in a small pot and let it boil for a minute while stirring all the time. Spread the preserve over the sponge and sprinkle the cake with the chopped pistachios. Place the cake in the refrigerator again and leave it there until ready to serve. Cut into squares.