This creamy baked blood orange cheesecake is a stunning but simple dessert that showcases blood oranges beautifully!
I don’t make an awful lot of desserts these days. But whenever I’m craving something sweet, I tend to stick to the classics like sticky toffee pudding, trifle and bread pudding. Good old fashioned comfort food.
I used to think that I didn’t like baked cheesecakes, favouring the easy no bake kind instead. They seemed too rich, heavy and cloying to me. But I just hadn’t found the right recipe.
What is the secret to making a lighter cheesecake?
This cheesecake borrows a method I found in a recipe from “Sweet” by Ottolenghi and it involves gently folding whisked egg whites into the cheesecake mixture just before baking. The cheesecake rises up during baking, very much like a souffle, then deflates when cooling. This does give the cheesecake a rather rustic, homemade feel, but what’s wrong with that? Home cooking should never look like it came from a factory.
Should I bake the cheesecake in a water bath?
Baked cheesecakes are often baked in a water bath to achieve a creamy, smooth texture, but I don’t tend to do this. While I admit that it certainly does make for a very velvety texture, I’ve found that you can achieve the same result by baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature. Anyway, I’ve ended up with a couple of soggy bottoms (eeek!) after using the water bath method, and no-one likes a soggy bottom do they??
Tips for making the perfect baked cheesecake
It’s important that you line the base and sides of the cake tin, ensuring that the paper rises 4-5cm above the rim – this cheesecake will rise quite a lot in the oven!
Make sure your cream cheese and mascarpone are at room temperature – if you start mixing the ingredients while they are fridge cold, you will never get the creamy, silky smooth texture you are looking for.
You want to bake the cheesecake until it is just firm – the cheesecake should have a “wobble” when you (very lightly) touch it. Baked cheesecake doesn’t respond well to sudden changes in temperatures, so leave it in the switched off oven for an hour after baking (with the oven door slightly open if possible) and make sure the cheesecake is at room temperature before refrigerating.
It’s not absolutely essential to pre-bake the biscuit base of the cheesecake, but I prefer to because I’ve found it’s much easier to cut into neat slices. A crumbly, impossible-to-cut without breaking biscuit base drives me a little crazy! I use good old digestive biscuits for the crust (Graham crackers would be the USA equivalent).
The caramelised blood orange slices finish off this cheesecake beautifully. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll no doubt know I have a bit of an obsession with blood oranges. They arrive at the perfect time of year – those red tinged beauties provide a pop of colour and vibrancy when everything looks a bit grey and miserable after the festive season.
You can make the caramelised oranges up to four days in advance – keep them and the syrup in a tupperware box in the fridge. If you happen to have any oranges leftover, they are really good as a topping for porridge, granola and yoghurt or ice cream for a quick and easy pudding.
Since you have to make this cheesecake the day before you need it, it’s the perfect dessert for getting ahead. Once baked and cooled, you can leave the cheesecake in the fridge for up to two days before using.
If you’ve ever found baked cheesecake a little too rich and heavy for your tastes, I urge you to give this recipe a try! I hope you love it as much as I did.
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More blood orange recipes…
Blood Orange Cheesecake
- 200 g digestive biscuits crushed into fine crumbs
- 100 g butter
- 600 g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 250 g mascarpone cheese at room temperature
- 4 large eggs separated
- 200 g caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of two blood oranges
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- For the caramelised blood oranges
- 3 blood oranges
- 100 g caster sugar
- 100 ml water
- 2 cardamom pods bruised (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160Fan. Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm round springform cake tin, making sure that the baking parchment rises 4-5 cm above the rim. This cheescake will rise quite significantly in the oven, so it's important that you do this!
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
- Pour the butter over the crushed biscuits and stir well to mix. The crumbs should have the consistency of damp sand.
- Press the crumbs into the base of the cake tin, pressing the crumbs slightly up the sides of the tin. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside while you get on with the filling. Reduce the oven heat to 150C/130Fan.
- Place the cream cheese and mascarpone in a mixing bowl. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, egg yolks, orange zest and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until the form firm peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the cheesecake mixture until smooth.
- Pour into the tin and bake for 70-80 minutes or until the cheesecake is lightly golden around the edges and the centre is only just firm. The cheesecake should still have a "wobble". Turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in there for
- at least one hour
- . Bring the cheesecake to room temperature, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the blood oranges. Place the water and sugar in a heavy baased medium saucepan. Place the pan on a low heat and let the sugar dissolve, swirling the pan from time to time. When the sugar has completely dissolved, turn the heat to medium, add the cardamom pods and cook until the mixture has reduced and is syrupy. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add the sliced oranges, a few at a time without overcrowding the pan. Cook the oranges in the syrup for about 2-3 minutes, then remove the oranges from the pan and place on a heatproof plate. Pour the blood orange syrup into a jug.
- When you're ready to assemble the cheesecake, unclip the springform and carefully remove the base (I use a long handled palette knife)
- Set the cheesecake on a serving plate. Decorate with the caramelised blood oranges and when you're ready to serve, pour some of the beautiful orange syrup over the cheesecake.