Blood orange, lavender & earl grey cheesecake

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17 February 2017

Yesterday, on my two hour train ride home from university, I looked through my folders with old(er) pictures and came across a couple of a cheesecake that I absolutely love, but that I did not share yet. That probably has to do something with the fact that I was a bit scared of it. But it’s about time that I let you share in the joy of this peculiar flavour combination.

Somewhere in January – so it’s not that long ago – out of nowhere, I came up with this flavour combination of things I either had never tried before, or had already tried, but didn’t exactly like. Kind of strange, I know, but that’s how my head works sometimes. This winter I have discovered quite a few new seasonal fruits, one of them is blood orange. Until last month I had never heard of them before, and by now they already are one of my favourite fruits. So, naturally, I started researching what flavours would pair well with blood orange, and I found countless recipes with lavender. And while researching recipes with lavender, I discovered that it goes well with earl grey tea. So I thought: why not combine all three of them?

While creating this recipe, I continually tried the cheesecake mixture to make sure that the balance of these three flavours where alright. Not to sour, not too bitter, not too… You name it. Until the result was quite delicious, if I may say so myself. And even though I was satisfied with the flavour of the mixture before baking, I was still extremely afraid of the final result. In fact, I was so scared by it, I just let the cheesecake sit in my fridge for four days without even trying a tiny piece of it. I know. I’m a ridiculous human being.

This unreasonable anxiety was brought about by one single ingredient: the lavender. Up till now, the only place I ever used lavender was in the bath tub. But the recipes I found while researching blood orange, made me curious enough to start experimenting with it in the kitchen. And while everything was fine before I put my cheesecake in the oven, I was afraid that after baking and cooling, I would end up with something flavoured like a bar of soap. In the end, it turned out that it didn’t. Even after all those days in the fridge. Insert: a big sigh of relieve.

How I found out? Well, that’s another nice story. On a Saturday morning my grandparents came to visit me, which was a nice surprise for me, and a good thing for this cheesecake. For a while now, I’m trying to avoid wasting food, so I wouldn’t allow myself to buy or make something else to serve my grandparents with their cup of coffee. And to serve nothing is not my idea of hospitality. So I covered the cheesecake with pretty slices of blood orange, took some pictures, and served two pieces two my grandparents, telling them about eighty-six times that if they didn’t like it, they didn’t have to eat it. But they did like it, and assured me of it at least eighty-seven times. And when grandparents say something is good, it’s a fact. That’s how it works. So here I am, past my fear of lavender, sharing with you this delicious recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my grandparents did.

Recipe

- Preheat the oven to 175⁰C.
- Make the base by combining 75g flour, 1/4tsp baking powder, 1/8tsp salt, 30g demerara cane sugar, 40g cold butter and 20ml milk.
- Line a 16cm springform with parchment paper, and press the mixture into the base. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Lower the oven temperature to 150⁰C.
- Make the filling by gently whisking 300g cream cheese, 100g whipping cream, 1 egg, 2tbsp brown rice syrup, 1/2tsp vanilla extract, the juice of 1 blood orange, 1tsp ground earl grey tea, and 1/4tsp ground lavender* until it looks a bit like whipped cream. This takes about five minutes with an electric mixer on slow speed. Be careful not to overmix, otherwise the mixture will split.
- Spoon the mixture onto the cooled base. Place the springform in the middle of the oven, fill a baking tray with water and place that on a lower rack in the oven, and bake the cheesecake for 40 - 45 minutes. It's alright if the centre is still a little wobbly.
- Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool slightly on a rack on the kitchen counter. Then cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Just before serving, slice two to three blood oranges for decoration and place them on top of the cheesecake.

* Make sure to use lavender that's suitable for cooking.

Ingredients

75g flour
1/4tsp baking powder
1/8tsp salt
30g demerara cane sugar
40g cold butter, cubed
20ml milk

300g cream cheese, at room temperature
100g whipping cream
1 egg
2tbsp brown rice syrup
1/2tsp vanilla extract
4 blood oranges
1tsp earl grey tea, ground into a fine powder
1/4tsp lavender,* ground into a fine powder

6 SERVINGS

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