“Sour cherries are a prized ingredient in Turkey and here I’ve paired the sharp, tangy fruit with a baked yoghurt and cream cheesecake. I use frozen sour cherries for this, as they can be hard to find and they have the added bonus of being ready pitted, which saves time. You can find them in the frozen aisles of health food shops or in Polish or Middle Eastern delis,” says food writer Yasmin Khan.
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“You can use sweet frozen cherries too, which are available in many supermarkets, you’ll just need to reduce the amount of sugar in the topping by one-third.
“To reduce the risk of the cheesecake cracking, follow these tips carefully: don’t over-mix the ingredients, be sure to line the baking tin, cook it slowly (if your oven runs hot, I’d be tempted to reduce the temperature given below and cook it for a little longer) and let the cheesecake cool down very slowly. This needs to be made ahead of time, as it has to chill for at least four hours before serving. I use a 23cm springform cake tin for this.”
- 200g digestive biscuits
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
- 600g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 200g strained full-fat Greek-style yoghurt
- 200g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated unwaxed lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the topping:
- 400g frozen, pitted sour cherries (see recipe introduction)
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
Line a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment. Put the biscuits in a food processor and blitz to crumbs. Alternatively, place them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin until they are finely crushed (the latter is slightly more therapeutic).
Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter, then spoon into the prepared tin, pressing down the base to form an even layer. (I sometimes use the base of a cup or glass to even out the crumb.) Transfer to the refrigerator to set.
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Beat the cream cheese and yoghurt until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and flour, then the vanilla, lemon zest and juice.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/fan 140 degrees C/Gas 3 (and see recipe introduction). Pour the filling into the chilled biscuit base and bake for around one hour. You can tell it is cooked when it looks set but still has a wobble in the middle. Now turn off the oven, open the door and leave the cheesecake to cool for 10 minutes without touching it. Remove it from the oven and leave to cool completely, then chill for four hours.
To make the topping, place the frozen cherries and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir frequently to begin with, so the sugar doesn’t catch. Once the cherries have defrosted and the sauce come to the boil, add the cornflour and simmer for five minutes. Set aside and leave to cool.
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To serve, either spoon the topping all over the cheesecake, or slice the cheesecake into pieces and place a dollop of cherries on top of each serving.
Ripe Figs: Recipes And Stories From The Eastern Mediterranean by Yasmin Khan, photography by Matt Russell, is published by Bloomsbury, available now.
What’s your favourite flavour of cheesecake? Do you prefer baked or unbaked cheesecake? Why not tell us in the comments section below.
– With PA
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