Cheesecake Made in the Dutch Oven – Perfection![RECIPE]
I had a pretty good response to my last article on the local Dutch Oven Group and some of the stuff we do each month and believe it or not, a few requests for a recipe or ten. I’m not the recipe dude (I Grog, make fire, ugh) but I asked my wife to give us her cheesecake recipe and she said yes! Let me tell you something right now, this is THE way to make a near perfect cheesecake. I’ve had some fine cheesecake in my life, and some very expensive cheesecake too, non of which compares to the one made the old fashioned way, in a dutch oven. Just saying.
Yes, it’s harder to prepare this way, but when you taste the results, there’s no other way you will ever want to make cheesecake again.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 Light Brown Sugar (packed)
1/4 Cup Margarine (½ stick, melted)
4 Blocks (8oz) Cream Cheese (softened)
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tbsp Flour
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Large Eggs (room temperature)
Preheat indoor oven to 325° for 9” silver springform pan (300° for dark). Crush graham cracker crumbs finely (usually one sleeve will yield the cup needed). Mix in brown sugar well, then incorporate melted margarine thoroughly. Margarine is preferable due to the ease of slicing it yields in the finished product. Press evenly into the bottom of 9” springform pan and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, flour and vanilla on medium speed until well-blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Pour over crust.
Bake in oven 1 hour or until center is almost set. Immediately after removing from oven, run a knife around the rim to loosen the cake, but do not release the rim. Allow cake to cool before releasing and removing the springform rim. Top with pie filling, fresh fruit, whipped cream, or whatever you desire (or nothing). Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Putting it in a conventional oven is when you start to wonder and fret if it is going to crack or cook evenly. Cheesecake is temperamental. There is a way to get this gourmet delicacy to turn out right every time… Go all pioneer on it and bake it outside in a Dutch oven.
Here’s the quick and dirty (with a few pictures) on how to set it up:
1. Select an oven. You will need a minimum size of a 12-inch “deep” – or 8 qt – oven. You need to have room for both a lid stand and your cake pan, and still have room at the top for convection to occur.
2. Get some charcoal going. It takes about 20 minutes for the coals to be ready, so start them right before you begin mixing your cheesecake.
3. A good time to do this step is right before you pour the cheesecake mixture over the crust.
Once the coals are ready, arrange a ring of coals about a foot in diameter (the size of your oven, about 12-14 coals). Place the oven over the coals and put a lid stand in the center. A trivet will not work, as it is not tall enough. Fill the bottom of the oven with water, about 1-2 inches or half the height of the lid stand. This water will provide the moisture that is essential to prevent cracking and ensure uniform cooking.
4. Pour the cheesecake, then place the pan onto the lid stand. Cover with the Dutch oven lid. Now you want to place a ring of coals around the top of the lid, on the very edges. Dutch oven lids have a fairly deep lip that prevent the coals from sliding off. You want the coals on the edges only for convection. If you put them in the center of the lid, the cake will cook unevenly and brown the top.
5. Baking time is approximately the same as a conventional oven, at about an hour. Every 15 minutes or so, you will need to check your coals to see if they are spent and replace them. In general, you will need to do this once about halfway through cooking. While you are checking coals, lift the lid and check the cheesecake for doneness. The cake is done with it appears almost set – just a little jiggly. Carefully remove the pan from the Dutch oven and marvel in the perfection… Chances are, if you paid attention, you won’t see a single crack or brown spot.
6. Follow the rest of the directions for cooling and removing. Wait impatiently for several hours, then pig out.