Wednesday, December 6, 2017

But It's SO Easy



Today is Daddy-O's birthday. I wrote this post yesterday as the cheesecake was cooking. But I waited until today to post so that I could get permission from Lynn to share her recipe with you.


So many times I've said, "But it's so easy!" I totally apologize if I've ever said that when you found a recipe here harder than I did. I never meant to make anyone feel lesser. Most of the recipes on this blog really would be found in the easy section of a cookbook. But after my time in the kitchen today, I am fully aware that MY easy might not be YOUR easy.

I have a cheesecake in the oven as I am typing away here. It stays in the oven a long time, so I should be good to sit still long enough to write this. I got the cheesecake recipe from a cousin who says, "It's so easy." And I've even made it before. But that was about 15 years ago. Today it doesn't feel quite so easy. I'm tired. It's been ages since I've done this. And there are a zillion other things going on.

It really is a fairly straight forward recipe....assuming you have some basic cooking knowledge. I knew that before I started this process, I should have brushed up on how to beat eggs whites. It's been ages and ages since I needed to do this. I did remember that glass bowls are better than plastic for beating egg whites.
For best results, beat egg whites in a clean glass bowl. Plastic bowls can retain a slight film of grease, even with careful washing, that can hinder volume development.
I was very careful when separating the yolks and the whites. I knew it was crucial to not to get any yolk into the bowl with the whites.
Separate each egg white into a small bowl and then pour it into the mixing bowl. Do this for each egg. That way if you have a yolk to break when you crack the egg, you haven't ruined the entire bowl of whites.
But it was the part that said, "beat whites until stiff (but not dry)" that should have sent me running to my trusty Joy Of Cooking book to brush up on my egg beating skills. I'm pretty sure I beat mine too long this time.
Beat the whites without stopping (oops!) until the whites are airy and moist and glossy and the peaks stand up straight when beaters are removed from bowl. (Soft peaks will flop over at the tips.)
And then there was the mountain of dirty dishes that filled the sink by the time I slid the springform pan into the oven. That made me feel like this recipe must have been hard. But it shouldn't make this much mess. When I mixed the cream cheese, sour cream and egg yolks, I realized that my bowl wasn't going to be big enough to fold in the egg whites. So I had to scrape this mixture into a much bigger bowl before I added the egg whites. Next time I'll know. Because I'm going to make a note in this recipe.
Always fold in whites by hand. Work quickly and gently. Add the heavier mixture to the lighter one to start. (Ugh. I did it the other way around.) Then mix it all together with a cutting and lifting motion.
Would I rate the recipe "easy" like my cousin Lynn does? Well, yes, it IS pretty easy. (Especially now that I know to use the big blue bowl for mixing.) But it's still easier for her than for me. She has been making this recipe for years. I've made it three times.


That's the difference. You become more proficient by doing an activity—be it playing piano, golf, or making cheesecake—over and over and over again. Not three times. Not five times. But many times. Give yourself a chance to learn.


I just peeked at the cheesecake that's baking away in the oven.
It's all puffed up, so maybe my less than skillful egg beating
hasn't caused too much of a problem.

Okay, so I know I'll never make as many cheesecakes as Lynn has. But if I don't wait another 15 years to make the next cheesecake, the next one will be easier than it was today.


Lynn has brought this to our big family Thanksgiving for about as many years as I've brought home baked bread. We missed her cheesecake so much this year when we had to skip the gathering. So today I'm making her wonderful dessert for Daddy-O's birthday tomorrow.


Fingers crossed that the things I didn't do "by the book" won't make much difference...because this is the only gift I'll have for him. Much of cooking isn't that exacting. I'll let you know how it goes with this cheesecake!

LYNN'S FAMOUS CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

Mix together and press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. DO NOT BAKE.

Filling:
4 eggs, separated
2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
16-oz sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg whites until still (not dry) and set aside.

Mix yolks, cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl. Add sugar, flour, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix until blended. Gently fold in egg whites.

Pour filling over crust and bake at 350 ยบ (preheated) for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave door closed for 45 minutes. Then let stand in oven with oven door open for another 45 minutes.

Refrigerate. May top with pie filling. (Although we like it best plain.)

The cheesecake puffs up as it bakes, then sinks as it cools. Don't worry. That's what it is supposed to do.



UPDATE: The cheesecake is delicious. We actually had cheesecake for breakfast. You only get to do that on your birthday!









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