Monday, July 5, 2010

Cheesecake for Dinner??!!

For the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY, one of the fun little things that we are planning on doing, other than dressing up, is having a traditional Regency Style Picnic.  And being one who likes to place more weight on my shoulders than is ever necessary....I thought it would be neat to try my hand at an original 18th century recipe.....  *teeheehee*

I love The Old Foodie blog, and I discovered that the author talked about two of my favorite things in one blog entry: Jane Austen and Cheesecake!!!!  What could be more divine!  You can read about it HERE.  But basically, the gist is, Jane Austen wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra about having Cheesecake for Supper.  Can you imagine?!  ....for SUPPER... not dessert, mind you.  Ah, the bliss...I have a VERY weak spot for cheesecake.  So, I thought to myself, this would be the PERFECT thing to make and bring to the Jane Austen Festival. 

After a little more research, I came up with a few different recipes for tart pastry, and cheesecakes.  The Old Foodie lists one of the cheesecake recipes, but I also found one HERE, at a site, simply called "The Foody" (note, not the same as The OLD Foody).   And I found a recipe for tart pastries at the same site, HERE.  Both of these recipes come from the "English Housewifry" cookbook, published in 1764, and these were the ones I ended up using.

I wasn't exactly sure about the some of the measurements and ingredients for the cheesecake recipe, so I decided to make a "TRIAL" cheesecake....just to test it out before I make the real one. I don't think we will be suffering too much having to endure the burden of a second cheesecake...do you?  (except maybe my waistline...)

So here's what I came up with that was different than the original recipe.  Instead of cheese curds (that I was supposed to make from the fresh milk of the non-existent cow I have in my back yard) I used 15oz. of Ricotta Cheese, and then 1/2 cup of whipping cream, 1/2 cup of sugar1/2 tsp. of Nutmeg, lemon peel from 1 lemon, and no salt....everything else was the same.

The crust was very easy to make.  The only thing was, the original recipe didn't give an amount for the flour.  So, I just added one cup at a time until the consistency looked right.  I ended up using 5 cups of flour.  (Note: The picture above shows only about 1/3 of the crust.  I divided it up to use some for the bottom crust, and some for the upper crust.)

Jane decided to help with the flour...as you can see on her face, she ended up wearing most of it.

Here's my trial cheese cake.  I baked it slowly, for about 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  It smells divine, and tastes great, but has quite a different consistency and texture from our modern cheesecakes....it's much more custard-like.  I attempted to make a little lattice type decoration for the top, but it didn't quite turn out right (the strips of dough sunk into the cheesecake).  It is quite the yummy treat, but it wasn't that pretty.   SOOOOooooo.... I decided to have a little fun....

I made some more dough....for the real cheesecake that I will bake the night before the festival.  My plan is this....make the cheesecake with the bottom layer of pastry, and halfway through the cooking time, just after the custard has had enough time to set up a bit, add the top layer of pastry.  But, I won't use a simple lattice this time....oh, no.... this time, I will make it look authentic.

Did you see the Pastry design at the top of this post???  The pretty one with the bird and tree???  Well, here's my version of it...  I found that pretty little pastry on the Historic-Food website.  I simply rolled out some extra dough, and molded it like you would play-dough or clay.  The trick is to use an egg wash as a glue to hold all the pieces together.

What do you think?  I was a little bummed that I couldn't fit all of the woven designs around the edge; I ran out of room to do that.  I plan on freezing this little masterpiece until Friday, when I will take it out, and place it on the cheesecake.  I'm crossing my fingers and praying that this plan works.  I'll let you know how it goes, and will be sure to take pictures of the finished product.

5 comments:

Gail said...

That looks great.

Jenni said...

Thank you, Gail! I would have loved to be able to do all of those little twisted borders on the original...it was so much fun!

Persuaded said...

That looks amazing! You are just such a multi-faceted kinda gal aren't you?

Jenni said...

Thanks, Diane...just call me a Jack of all Trades but Master of None. Seriously though, it's all just a whole lot of creative fun to me. :-) It's certainly a God given ability (and maybe a little genetic inheritance from my father)...I don't take credit for it.

Palepinkradish said...

Thanks for this post Jenni. I've found your blog by chance, looking for inspiration to write about a cheesecake I made few days ago and Jane Austen. I really love the way you write and next time I'll try to replicate your recipe! Bye Ste