baklava cheesecake recipe
Cakes Uncategorized

Baking Along with The Great British Bake-Off – Dessert Week

The dessert week episode of The Great British Bake-Off featured some interesting challenges, but only one that I wanted to take on at home this week. For the signature challenge, contestants had to make mini cheesecakes of any flavour. For the technical challenge, they had to make a Sussex pond pudding, which is a steamed pudding made with a suet pastry and filled with a brown sugar sauce and a whole lemon. When you crack into the pudding, the lemon should have become soft and the juices combined with the brown sugar sauce and the sauce should ooze out like a pond. The showstopper challenge was quite intricate. Contestants had to make a cake and top it with jelly art. You can see what one of the contestants did on the Great British Bake-Off website.

I may try the Sussex pond pudding another time, but didn’t want to do it this weekend. If you’re interested in trying it, the recipe is here. The jelly art cake would require equipment that I don’t have and probably would require more artistic ability than I have, so that one was out too. That left me with cheesecake.

It’s been years since I’ve made a cheesecake. I used to make them quite a bit as a teenager, but for whatever reason, haven’t made them in quite a while. A couple of months ago I saw a picture of a baklava cheesecake on Reddit and I’ve been wanting to make one ever since. I figured this was the perfect time to try it out! I decided to do one large cheesecake instead of mini ones since I don’t have the pans to do mini cheesecakes.

Figuring Out the Recipe

There are a couple of recipes out there, but I wanted to see if I could put together my own version. I noticed in a few pictures I saw that the phyllo crust looked quite pale. I wanted mine to be golden, so I knew that I should bake my crust before adding the filling.

In my first attempt, I layered the phyllo over the bottom and brought it up to the height of the pan and folded it back to make neat edges. That didn’t work at all! My sides collapsed during baking and weren’t tall enough to accommodate any filling. Luckily I had more phyllo so I tried again. This time I let the dough hang over the edges of the pan for baking. This worked much better, but the edges got very crispy and I was worried about them getting overcooked when baking the filling. I also thought that I would have trouble taking the sides off of the pan before serving. I decided to break off the overhang and save the shards for decorating the top when the cake was done. This worked out really well. The part of the crust that was above the filing didn’t over darken, and it made the top of the cake look nicer with the pieces of phyllo on top. The only issue was that the sides were still rather pale after baking, but they were still crispy, so it didn’t affect the cake too much. Next time I might play with either not using a water bath when baking the filling or baking the crust even longer before filling it.

For the cheesecake, I started with a lemon cheesecake recipe from my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook. I swapped honey in for the sugar and reduced the amount from 1 1/4 cups to 2/3 cup since there would also be a honey syrup on top. I put just a tsp of lemon zest in for a lemony kick that wouldn’t overpower the honey too much. Last, I used sour cream instead of the cream in the recipe because I thought that would both help the texture and add more tang to the flavour.

I based the recipe for the nuts and syrup on what I did for my baklava recipe but reduced the amount of water in the syrup to make it a bit thicker. I put half of the nuts with a bit of sugar over the bottom of the crust before adding the filling and then tossed the remaining nuts with some of the syrup to put on top of the cake after it had cooled. To finish it, I added the phyllo shards, some thinly sliced orange peel and more syrup before serving.

The Taste Test

Wow, was this cheesecake ever good! The cheesecake was so creamy in texture and the nuts and syrup went very well with the honey and lemon in the cheesecake. The crust was flaky and not too sweet. I drizzled a bit of syrup into the layers of the crust to give it that baklava flavour and it was great! My husband was still raving about this cake after having his second slice today 🙂

baklava cheesecake recipe
Yields: 12 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 6 Hr Cook Time: 1 Hr 15 Mins Total Time: 7 Hr 15 Mins

Baklava Cheesecake

This amazing baklava cheesecake features a crispy phyllo crust and a creamy honey-lemon cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of spiced nuts and topped with a spiced honey syrup. The crust, nuts and syrup can all be made a day in advance. Keep the crust and nuts covered at room temperature and store the syrup in the fridge.

Ingredients

0/24 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For the Crust
  • For the spiced nut mixture
  • For the Honey Syrup
  • For the Honey Lemon cheeseckae

Instructions

0/15 Instructions
  • Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position and preheat to 375F/190C. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with melted butter.
  • Brush one sheet of phyllo pastry liberally with butter, then place inside the springform pan, pressing it into the corners and letting the edges hang over the side of the pan (keep the other sheets of phyllo covered with a damp towel while you work). Repeat with remaining sheets of phyllo, alternating the direction that you lay the sheets so that the sides of the pan are evenly covered. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake until the bottom and sides are golden, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.
  • Using a food processor, chop one kind of nuts at a time until they are coarsely chopped (doing one kind at a time, ensures that they are all evenly chopped). Place the nuts in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Divide the nuts into two bowls and let cool completely.
  • Place 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cardamom and 1/8 tsp cloves into each bowl of nut mixture. Add 2 tbsp sugar to one of the bowls of nuts. Cover and set aside until needed.
  • For the Honey Syrup
  • Combine honey, sugar, water, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange peel, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cool, then pour into a bowl. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed (the longer it chills, the more the spices will infuse into the syrup).
  • For the Cheesecake
  • Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  • Pour in the honey and beat until well combined, scrape down the bowl.
  • Add eggs, 2 at a time, and beat until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  • Add the vanilla, lemon zest and salt and beat until just incorporated.
  • Add the sour cream and beat until just incorporated. Give the mixture a final stir by hand.
  • Place a double layer of foil around the outside of your springform pan to help avoid any water leaking into the cheesecake.
  • Break off the overhanging edges of the phyllo so that the sides just come to the top of the pan. Save the phyllo shards for decorating the cake. Spread the nut mixture that has the sugar in it over the bottom of the crust, then pour the cheesecake batter over top. Place the pan in a large roasting pan or skillet and set on an oven rack. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  • Bake until the centre jiggles slightly and the sides are just starting to puff and the centre registers 150F/65C, 55 - 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a potholder or wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the water bath for 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, remove the foil and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
  • Remove the side of the springform pan and place the cake on a serving plate. Remove the spices from the syrup and discard. Combine 3/4 of syrup with the remaining nut mixture and spread over the top of the cheesecake. Decorate with phyllo shards and place the cake in the fridge to chill for 3 hours. Just before serving, pour the remaining syrup over the top of the cake and in between the layers of crust.

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