Free recipe from The Plain Cake Appreciation Society: Burnished cheesecake

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Welcome to The Plain Cake Appreciation Society, where 52 simple, seasonal cake recipes — one for each week of the year — will inspire you to pause, bake something delicious, and reflect on all that’s good in your world.

Home baker and photographer Tilly Pamment calls these “little pockets of cake calm”, nourishment for your soul to carry you through into the next week.

“The cornerstone of contentment lies in a slice of cake, a cup of tea and company to share it,” she says.

Uncomplicated and easy to make, the recipes in The Plain Cake Appreciation Society will provide delicious inspiration all year round.

Burnished cheesecake with morello cherries

If for no other reason, bake this cheesecake for the colour alone — in all its burnished, bronzed beauty, it really is a sight to behold. And then do eat it, because that is a total joy also. It’s creamy and light, with a wonderful burnt sugar undertone. Utterly delicious, especially when paired with the tart morello cherry compote.



Makes one 20 cm (8 inch) cake

Cheesecake filling

750 g (1 lb 10 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature

300 g (10½ oz) sour cream, at room temperature

330 g (11½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

4 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons gluten-free cornflour (cornstarch)

Cherry compote

3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar

1 x 670 g (1 lb 8 oz) jar of pitted morello cherries, drained, syrup reserved

1 star anise


Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F) fan-forced and grease a 20 cm (8 inch) round springform tin with butter. Line the base and side with two large rectangles of baking paper, allowing the extra paper to sit up well above the sides of the tin. The paper will be crinkled and creased, but this is as it should be — it just adds to the lovely rustic finish of the cake.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix until smooth. Add the sour cream and mix well before gradually adding the sugar. Scrape down the side of the bowl, add the vanilla and mix again until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Spoon about 125 ml (4 fl oz) of the batter into a small bowl and add the cornflour. Stir until smooth before returning to the bowl with the rest of the batter. Mix well, making sure to scrape down the side of the bowl, until the batter is very smooth.

Pour the batter into the tin through a sieve. Tap the tin gently on the bench a few times to remove any large air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes before lowering the temperature to 180°C (350°F) and baking for a further 10–15 minutes, or until burnished and bronzed, but still considerably wobbly in the centre. The cake will continue to cook as it cools. Allow to cool completely in the tin (about 3 hours).

While the cake is cooling, make the cherry compote. Place 185 ml (6 fl oz) of the syrup in a small saucepan along with the sugar and star anise. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10–12 minutes or until the syrup is slightly reduced. Add the cherries to the pan and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Stir and set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, gently release the cake from the tin and peel away the paper from the side. Slice with a hot knife — wiping it in between slices — and serve with the cherry compote.

Both the cake and compote can be prepared the day before you serve them as they both keep happily in the fridge overnight — just return the cake to room temperature, and warm the cherries gently, before serving.

Tea & blooms match

French Earl Grey and leafy hydrangea.

Kitchen note

Make sure that both the cream cheese and sour cream are at room temperature before you start. This will ensure a silky-smooth finish. If you don’t have morello cherries on hand, you can serve this cake with any kind of fruit compote you like, but something a little tart works beautifully. I often serve it with Baked Rhubarb or a bowl of macerated strawberries. 

The Plain Cake Appreciation Society by Tilly Pamment

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