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Cheesecake challenge | townfood - recipes, restaurant reviews and food news

Cheesecake challenge

I've never bought 8.5kg of cream cheese in my local supermarket, I'm not sure that many people have. But when I was asked to make cheesecakes for a family wedding I was able to experience bulk buying at its best. I took particular glee in the fact that there was a BOGOF offer - something that other shoppers were unable to take advantage of once I had cleared the shelves.

The couple wanted a three tiered cheesecake that would be beautifully decorated and on a stand for all to see. This would be the cake that they would cut for the photo call. In addition, they wanted  to serve cheesecake to the 100 guests as pudding. This meant that I had to make not only the three 'presentation' cakes, but also 18 smaller versions that would remain refrigerated until they were to be served, hence my gargantuan trolley load of cream cheese.

In order to get the perfect recipe, we started off by doing some taste tests. I took a combination of recipes and adapted them to what I thought would be best and presented three options. My efforts were lined up against Patisserie Valerie's version and a portion from a professional wedding cheesecake supplier (which cost £20 for one sample cake!!). The homemade versions beat the bought cakes hands down, I think the two bought cakes were unbaked - baking makes such a difference as it makes it lighter, fresher and more sophisticated. And so it was decided - “we’ll have that biscuit base with that topping”.

Doing the shopping was definitely one of the highlights of this project. Accompanying my 28 LARGE tubs of cream cheese were 70 eggs, 2.5kg of sugar, more packets of digestives than I can remember, a crate of butter and 45 lemons. I'm not sure what happened with my lemon calculations, but I had about 25 left over at the end, they're always useful though!  Kitted out with four mini springform tins, and three of increasing sizes for the presentation cakes, I set to work. Within 10 minutes I had blisters on my hands from beating the mixture and the kitchen was spattered with a fine film of lemony cream cheese. I got into a routine though and started a production line, making four cakes at a time.

Two days later and I was done, next problem, how on earth do I store these in a domestic freezer? There were 21 cakes in total so an elaborate tower of cake boards stuck together with blue tack and ramekins went into a small chest freezer. We were then forced to have a very large and eclectic supper of random ingredients that had had their position in the freezer usurped.

Freezing worked really well, and meant that a week later when we transported them to the wedding venue, they were rock solid so not too delicate.

I decorated the presentation cakes with glazed strawberries and blueberries, and made bride and groom strawberries using white and dark chocolate. The smaller cakes that were to be eaten for pudding went into the fridge for the day to defrost and were served cold.

This was a great experience, and one that I would certainly jump at again, but perhaps not for a little while. I have been in cream cheese rehab since then and it's going well, I'm down to only three tubs in my trolley at a time.


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