This evening I baked a cheesecake. Cheesecakes are one of my favourite things.
Since I was little my Savta (grandma in Hebrew) has made me cheesecake pretty much every birthday. And not just my birthday – ANY birthday that we are both attending! And any other occasion worthy of a cheesecake.
Savta’s cheesecake is renowned for being the Best Cheesecake In The World. Everyone that tries it says something along the lines of ‘Oh my god! This is the best cheesecake!’ A couple of years ago I realised that Savta wouldn’t always be around to bake – yes, bake – me her cheesecake. That was not a happy prospect. A world without Savta’s cheesecake is no world at all. So I asked her for the recipe. It was an awkward moment for me. We both knew that I was asking her for the recipe so that when she passed away the recipe wouldn’t pass away with her. Thankfully it didn’t go unspoken, like an elephant in the corner of the room that no one wants to mention. Instead, we arranged to bake a cheesecake together so she could teach me.
Over the Easter break Savta and I baked a cheesecake. Boy is her recipe simple!! I shared the cheesecake with some friends who all said ‘Wow! This is the best cheesecake!‘
I have been slightly smug about the fact that I can now bake a Savta Cheesecake.
However, it is not as easy as it seems. I should have been like Sir Ken Robinson when he cooks (see his TED talk on how schools kill creativity below. The whole talk is great but if you just want the cooking moment head for 13:40 – 14:30).
I baked my cheesecake because a 10 year old girl I coach gymnastics to claimed that her mum made the best cheesecake. Obviously I had to set her straight. We arranged a cheesecake bake-off. Yes, a cheesecake-off at the gym!
However, I didn’t heed Ken’s advice, I didn’t remain focused on the task at hand and I let myself be distracted by a phone call from my good friend James and I think I left the cheesecake in the oven a bit too long. This is bad. I could be beaten by a 10 year old girl.
The bake-off is on Wednesday so I’m considering making another cheesecake tomorrow night but I don’t think I’ll have time. I guess I’ll just have to accept whatever shameful fate comes my way.
Either way, whether I win or lose, I have a deeper respect for Savta. Her cheesecake is perfect every time.
But I’ll keep on practicing, perfecting my own cheesecake, so when the time comes, and I have to take up the mantel of Family Cheesecake Baker, I will be ready.
Three gym coaches and one gymnast entered the bake-off. One coach was away (and has promised to bake a cheesecake at a later date), one thought it was the following week. The head of General Gymnastics forgot. (She was going to make caramel slices anyway so she wasn’t really a contender.)
One coach, Ilona, made a white chocolate cheesecake with blueberries. It wasn’t baked. It was a bit like goo. Tasty, tasty goo.
The other coach, Mirela, baked a cheesecake that had so many eggs in it I’m surprised we didn’t all turn into chickens. Or get Salmonella poisoning. It was good, but not that good.
I baked Savta’s cheesecake (which was obviously awesome).
The gymnast, Libby, baked a cheesecake with vanilla and cinnamon in the base. But the base didn’t stick.
Around a dozen people ate the cheesecakes and voted. Some liked the sweetness of Ilona’s (unbaked) chocolately gooiness, some liked the strong flavours of Mirela’s. But the winner by far was my Savta’s cheesecake. Because it really is that good!
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James writes his excellent blog ‘Jesus Is My Homeboy’ here.