Banana Bread Du Jour; Basque Burnt Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

October 18, 2020

Photographic Evidence


Your office has a slack channel for baking, because hashtag-of-course-it-does. One coworker posted Basque Burnt Cheesecake, which bills itself as the rough-and-ready unfussy opposite of the more difficult cheesecake that most people mean when they say cheesecake. So another coworker asked, “Do you think that would work as pumpkin spice cheesecake?”

Say no more, fam.

To Prepare

OK, start by reading the recipe above. Conceptually, we’re going to replace half the creamcheese with pumpkin, which as a side effect will make this way healthier, right? Also, you don’t own a kitchenaid, so it’s kind of great that the pumpkin is going to be way easier to mix than creamcheese.

Hours ago you removed the creamcheese from the fridge.

Now, you begin to preheat the oven to 400 F.

Empty two packs of creamcheese into a bowl, and add roughly the same amount of canned pumpkin, which is about half one of those big cans. Add a kind of similar volume of sugar, and then some more sugar just in case that wasn’t enough. Use a potato masher to roughly combine, and then a whisk to try and smooth things out. Your brother calls during this process so who knows how long it even takes, you guys don’t talk very often so you have months of stories to share.

Grind almost a dozen allspice berries and a similar quantity of cloves in the mortar and pestle. This takesa little while but you can put your brother on speakerphone and listen to the whole saga of how he almost moved to Hawaii for a new job but then the CEO of that company got arrested, it’s honestly a really good story. He says he wound up appreciating all the good things at his current job. Whisk in the spices, including some pre-ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg, some salt, vanilla, and a little more sugar just in case.

You bought a whole pint of heavy cream, but let’s assume that pumpkin is wetter than creamcheese so as part of our substitution we’re going to use less heavy cream than called for, maybe only 2/3 of the pint. Similarly you’re going to add an extra egg, for 7 eggs total, since you’ve definitely replaced the proteins and fats of the cheese with the starches of the pumpkin. Add a little more salt just in case you undersalted and whisk the eggs in while you try to tell your brother about your hiking trip last month, but you can’t because there’s just no words to describe what it’s like to spend two weeks in the mountains. Even if there were, you’re not sure you’d produce them with one ear pinning your phone to your shoulder while you whisk the batter until it’s finally smooth. Visualize yourself in a sub-alpine meadow listening to a stream. It’ll be ok.

Add an artisanal blend of white and whole-wheat flour, once again whisking it in.

The original recipe calls for a spring-form pan, but you absolutely have no such thing and besides it’s fall which is why you’re doing this whole pumpkin-spice concept, so you use parchment paper to double-line a metal 9x13 pan. The original recipe also calls for you to butter the pan, which seems exorbitant since it’s going to be double-lined with parchment paper and you don’t usually eat the parchment paper, so you make the most dangerous adjustment yet and cut that noise out of your life entirely. You pour most of the batter in but the pan is looking a little full, and there’s no knowing how much it’s going to rise but it’s supposed to rise, so real quick you get out one of those little loaf pans, double-line it, and use it too.

Bake for 65 minutes minutes at 405 F, because you just assume your oven is crazy inaccurate. Go for a walk while you talk about national and state politics with your brother. You live at opposite ends of the country so it’s interesting to compare notes. Wrap up the conversation and get back with about 20 minutes to go in the oven, feeling like your cakes are a little pale in color so turn up the heat to 415. What could go wrong?


Photographic Evidence

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