I was refining this recipe on and off over 20 years. The earlier versions had more flour, no condensed milk and were more dense. We now prefer this creamier version, which tops anything in the cafés in Brisbane. It is fun, because measurements are approximate and the method is consistently repeatable. It takes quite a bit of time.
A Baked New York Cheese Cake needs to set in the fridge overnight.
The best flavour is the next day. The cake will last a few days.
Ingredients can be measured by hand and be varied. The main thing to remember is to use the full three or two and a half blocks of Philly creamed cheese. Adding the condensed milk solidifies the wet mix while setting. Do not add too much flour. Basically, sprinkle the flour over the top of the final mix in the bowl before blending it in, so it is not too much. The mix is a sloppy, gluggy consistency. You could use GF flour instead. If you use a small to medium bucket of ricotta cheese, still use two Philly blocks, rather than one.
Do not bake on a low 160 (Celsius). This is a touch too low and the cake may set a little less than desired. Do not bake too high either. I use 170 Celsius for about 40 to 45 minutes, until I can smell the top of the cake as you would a regular baked cake. The top should not become blackened around the edges. It may likely brown unevenly in a home oven. If you use a higher temperature, such as 180, it may only take 35 minutes. Ovens vary. Do not open the oven door while baking until the end when checking the browning. The condensed milk and lemon juice will allow a softer bake if you wish, as it sets in the fridge over night.
Use any small high sided tin, (we use 18″) or a larger lower sided tin (e.g. 20″). The cake is so rich that people do not want large slices.
If using a ring sided tin, one can line the base with wax paper, and lightly butter the sides. You can use scissors to cut off excess wax paper. Otherwise, I’d suggest cutting out a circle of wax paper anyway on the base.
Crush a packet of Arnott’s Scoth Finger Biscuits into a bowl. (GF scotch fingers are available.) I use a round ended rolling pin. Then use your fingers to mix in a small amount of soft salt free butter. Do not use too much butter. You will be surprised how little is needed.
If using a small baking tin, a little more than half a packet. A larger tin, you need some more reserves to work with.
Empty the crushed biscuits into the tin, and flatten out for a biscuit base. There is no need to do the sides of the tin. Do not make the base overly thick. Just empty out enough for a good covering, and pad it down with your hand and fingers, especially around the edges to avoid thick corners. You can have a base go part way up the sides if you wish – quite nice.
As a treat, spoon in a tablespoon of raspberry jam in the center of the baking tray. You would simply flatten it a touch and pour the mix on top of it.
I do not pre-bake the biscuit base.
You may make your own pastry if you like, and cover the sides of the tin either partially or fully. (There is not need to cover the full height of the sides.) Remember to really push down the edges so they are not overly thick after baking. This pastry needs some pre-baking.
Optional: You may add grated fresh lemon rind to the base/sides. If making a lime cheese cake, use lime rind. If using lime, it is nice to add some grated rind to the cheese cake mix as well.
– 2 1/2 to 3 blocks Philly cream cheese (full cream, rather than diet.)
– 1/2 can Condensed milk.
– 1/2 tub cooking cream (or regular).
– 1 cup white sugar (more or less depending on your tasting of the wet mix).
– Some Vanilla (a generous serve from the vanilla syrup, or a bit of care not to overdo it with the vanilla liquid version.)
– 2 lemons (About 10mm of lemon juice in the bottom of the plastic squeeze juicer. Depends on the type of lemon for how much juice. We recommend the fresher tasting Lisbon lemons that are the larger sized lemons. You may opt to use limes instead. Be generous. It is okay to be fairly wet with the initial mix.)
– Tablespoon of Lyle’s Golden Syrup (This is the British brand. It is more toffee like in flavour than the CSR syrup, but either is okay. Do not overdo the amount, as it is a strong flavour and may dominate.)
– 2 to 3 eggs. (If using a larger container, use 3 eggs.)
Melt the Philly in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, while forking the cheese after each go, to smooth it up enough to work with.
Use a hand blender to remove the bumps in the cheese.
Add the above ingredients, except flour. Use a hand mixer, like the Sunbeam, to mix well. Measurements are approximate.
Add some white flour, (I use organic, or “00”, but any will do) by a generous sprinkling on top. The mixer will blend this in. Mix for a while. Do not try to thicken the mix with more flour as it will ruin the final consistency and taste.
Pour the contents into the tin, and level out. You may pour to the top, or just under. Either way, the cake will rise about 5mm or more.
The oven must be pre-heated. Place the tin in at 170 to 180 degrees Celsius. It is a good to have a tray of water in the oven – but be careful to let that cool before removing as it would be dangerous.
After baking, let cool for several minutes before using a knife to carefully separate the cake from the sizes of the tin.
Put onto a wire cake rack.
Cool for up to an hour, or less, before adding cream and toppings.
Topping – Chantilly Cream, Chocolate, and Fruit.
Whip a full bucket of quality cream. With the cream, add a little vanilla, and a generous portion of soft icing sugar. Do not overly whip the cream. It can be slightly under a full firm mix as it will stay in the fridge after. Vary the amount of sugar to your taste.
Use a spatula or larger spoon to spread the cream on top. You can spread a little around the upper edge to cover over the edge of the cake.
Add your own style of choc chips or buttons, etc. along with any fruit you think will work. It is nice to have a mix of berries depending on the availability.
You may drizzle passion fruit over the cream for another variation. Some expensive grated or drizzled chocolate on top of the cream can make a big difference but is not necessary. You could even create a fine spatula full layer of chocolate before putting the cream on top. Max Brenner chocolate is a good example. As a full layer it would be glossy. Most of my cakes do not use this option.
Set in the fridge overnight. I put a sheet of wax paper gently over the top to protect it.
You may like to sprinkle the fruit top with icing sugar before serving.