Burnt Cheesecake – Recipe 1 (Firm Set)

Also known as the Basque cheesecake, or burnt Basque cheesecake, this is one cake you're actually meant to burn.

With Spanish origins, this cake has somehow become quite popular in East and South-East Asia relatively recently. With the cake's caramelised crust and smooth, creamy centre, it's not hard to see why it's such a hit.

It can be made in two ways: set quite firmly like a traditional cheesecake, or with an almost liquid, lava-like middle (which is the more modern version being popularised). For my birthday this year, I played it safe and let the cooked cake sit in the warm oven for a further 30 minutes to make sure the inside wasn't too gooey – when you're making it for the first time it's quite hard to eyeball it and see how 'wobbly' a 'wobbly centre' should be when the baking time is over. I deemed it possibly 'too wobbly', but actually it would have made for quite a nice, semi-oozy centre.

But the end result didn't suffer at all from the extra time in the switched-off oven, and it was still soft, smooth and creamy inside. I'll make it again soon with a 'soft set' method. In the meantime, here's the more traditional, firmly-set version.

This recipe is super easy... but you'll need patience and to make it the day before you intend to eat it, preferably earlier in the day. It takes an hour to bake, a few hour to cool down to room temperature, and then needs overnight to cool.

Ready? Let's go.


350ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
800g cream cheese
250g caster sugar
5 large eggs
30g plain flour


1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan over a very low heat. Split the vanilla pod down the centre, scrape out the seeds inside, and add the seed paste and whole pod to the cream. Give it a little whisk to distribute the seeds, and as soon as the cream starts steaming and bubbling around the edges, turn the heat off. Let the vanilla infuse in the cream for half an hour while it cools.

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a 9" springform cake tin with one big sheet of baking parchment. This cheesecake's crustless so you're going to need the one-sheet lining to help you remove it from the tin later.

3. In a big mixing bowl, stir the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. The sugar draws the water out of the cream cheese, which will help loosen up the mixture. Now mix in the eggs, and sift and mix in the flour. Lastly, add the vanilla-infused cream, discarding the vanilla pod (or, as I did, pop it in your coffee for vanilla-scented coffee).

4. Bake for an hour, until puffy and browned-borderline-burnt on top. The cake should be very wobbly when you give the tin a little shake. Switch the oven off, and let the cheesecake rest in the still-hot oven for a further fifteen minutes. Then take it out and let it cool completely to room temperature, before popping it in the fridge to chill overnight. It will collapse a little as it cools, this is normal.

5. The next day, pop the cake out of the pan, and carefully peel the baking paper away. Then slice, serve, and enjoy.

Enjoy, and have fun.


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