Again, another cheesecake. Again, another office party. Again a belated post from kclever…
August birthdays rolled around this year, and since summer had YET to hit Portland, I wasn’t too afraid of the oven. I say this because in those years of my childhood spent in Oklahoma, we were forbidden – or close to it – from baking or turning on the oven AT ALL in the summer. Sometimes there was a concession made if the baking was completed by 10am before the triple digit heat set in, but that would require an awful lot of planning and preparation. And, to my mother’s credit – it DID take a long time to cool down the brick house and you never knew what was going to put the A/C on the edge.
Though I’m not as draconian about my baking patterns today, I do appreciate how quickly an oven can heat up the house – especially when the “house” is a one bedroom apartment with few windows for cross ventilation and no A/C. It’s fortunate then, that I live now in the Pacific Northwest so 100+ degree days are very rare and far between. I also like to think it’s fortunate for my co-workers because I AM more inspired to bake when it’s not too hot, although I don’t know that I would eschew baking for a birthday regardless of the thermostat.
And so, when I realized that my friends were sharing a birthday week, I decide it was time to dig out the cheesecake pan that has never failed me before. I solicited their “likes” for a little inspiration and come up with a peach cheesecake.
Peaches here in Oregon – are like heaven. Especially when ripe. I’ve had many sad, unripe peaches. That’s what happens when you try to buy “fresh” fruit in Oklahoma. The rosy peaches look delectable and oh so promising in the grocery store, but then they never ripen. They get soft, but then they are mushy. Sad. Very, very sad. Fortunate for me, again, that I live where I do. The farmers markets are teeming with fresh peaches right about now.
Taking a bite of a fresh peach reminds me of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock” which we had to memorize in part for 11th Grade English. I can’t help but think of the line, “Do I dare to each a peach?” Oh yes, yes, I do. They are delicious.
I found a recipe on epicurious: recipe
Plenty of 30 gingersnap cookies (about 6-8 ounces), coarsely broken
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 lbs of peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup peach preserves
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 large peach, peeled, pitted, very thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grind gingersnaps in processor to coarse crumbs. Add butter and blend until evenly moistened. Press crumbs over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake crust until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Cool on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Combine peaches, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon juice in heavy large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and peaches are juicy, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until peaches are tender and juices thicken, about 5 minutes. Cool compote.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream and vanilla. Spoon half of cheese mixture (about 3 cups) into crust. Spoon peach compote over by tablespoonfuls, spacing apart. Pour and cover with remaining cheese mixture.
Place large piece of foil on oven rack. Place pan with cheesecake on foil. (This is a great tip because in the past – I’ve spent too much time cleaning the oven!) Bake until puffed, set in center, and beginning to brown, about 1 hour. Place hot cheesecake on rack; cool 5 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen. Place cheesecake, uncovered, on rack in refrigerator and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.)
Combine preserves and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until glaze comes to simmer. Strain into small bowl. Release pan sides; place cheesecake on platter. Spread glaze over top of cheesecake to within 1/4 inch of edge. Chill cheesecake until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. Arrange peach slices in center of cake and serve.