Cheese and crackers.
Here in Blighty we used to have a thing called block cream cheese. It wasn’t exactly hard to find. The major brands all used to sell block cream cheese in most of the major supermarkets. It was a much sturdier affair than the tub stuff we have now. I know that times and tastes change. The new style cream cheese is whipped. To within an inch of its life. It’s designed to be ready to go straight from the fridge. It’s so much softer. But that’s the problem. When you are making American cheesecakes or frostings the tub stuff we have in the UK is just not up to the job. It’s too runny. I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only person who has gone to the trouble of making a cheesecake only for the topping to go watery or develop huge cracks as it cools. Or when you pipe frosting onto cupcakes and it just won’t hold its shape. And I’ve lost count of how many times I have made a good layer cake only for the covering to slowly inch down the sides of the cake and end up bulbously slumped around the base. You are in and out of the fridge. Endlessly chasing it back up the cake with a palette knife. And as if being too runny wasn’t a big enough problem, some of the big brand names have now cut the amount of cream cheese in each tub by 20g. If a recipe calls for 200g or 300g you have to buy TWO tubs now to cover the difference. Infuriating! I understand that they need to stay in profit but why couldn’t they have just raised the price. If you want to stick with a well-known brand go ahead. Whatever Phills your bucket. But I try to use Aldi own brand soft cheese when I’m baking. It’s not perfect but at least the consistency of the cheese is a bit firmer. It’s good quality for half the price. And the pack sizes have stayed the same too. A lot of my old recipes might be obsolete without it. And that would be not so much soft cheese as hard cheddar.
Mum’s the word.
I love the Nordic Ware Chrysanthemum tin. I hardly ever use it though. You see, it’s an absolute belter when it is washed and dried and sitting there all purdy on the shelf. The cakes that come out of this tin are always visually stunning. Always. For example, even though this cream cheese Bundt stuck a little bit around the top edge (mostly because I got a little bit lackadaisical with the magic cake paste) you really wouldn’t have noticed unless I had pointed it out. I had lots of my best people around to taste this cake and I can honestly say that not a single one of them said ‘Crikey. That’s looking a bit of a shocker. Rough as a badger’s.’ It is a beautiful cake tin and no mistake. The problem with the Nordic Ware Chrysanthemum is that when you are applying the cake paste. Or when you are cleaning and drying the tin. It has SO MANY NOOKS AND CRANNIES. And you have to make sure you get into every last one of them. Such a hassle. Or to put it another way, a pain in the Chrysanthe-bum.
This recipe is quite unusual because it is a cold oven cake. That just means that there is no need to heat the oven in advance. You make the cake mixture and pour it into the prepared tin. Pop the tin into the cold oven and THEN turn the oven on. It’s supposed to allow the cake to rise more evenly and give you a thicker crust on the outside of your cake. I don’t know if the cold start made that much of a difference but I do know that this cake is blooming marvellous. Although the cake was good and sturdy it was in no way heavy. It turned out to be smooth and light and creamy. The cream cheese gave the cake an almost velvety texture. And the addition of vanilla and lemon meant that although this was a plain cake it certainly wasn’t boring. Please don’t be tempted to cut down on the sugar though. I know it contains a frightening amount. Worthy of an immediate trip to the dentist. But you need it to balance out the tartness of the cream cheese. You don’t want to invite your friends round only to have them complain that you are serving up slices of sour cake. Not unless you are having a cheese and whine party.
A tin to bake it in.
This recipe was originally meant for a 14 cup Bundt tin. That’s three and a half litres in English money. Now I have a lot of Bundt tins. I am obsessed with them in a big way. But even I don’t have a 14 cup Bundt tin. I have heard that they exist but I’ve never seen one in person. The nearest thing I have is the 10-15 cup Nordic Ware 60th Anniversary Bundt tin. But because this cake is based on a pound cake I knew it would be a good solid cake. That means whichever cake tin you use – no matter how fancy – the finished cake should be sturdy enough to hold every intricate detail when you turn it out. That’s why I chose the Nordic Ware Chrysanthemum. To test both the cake and myself. Unfortunately the Chrysanthemum is only 10 cups (or two and a half litres). Way too small to accommodate all the mixture. But have no fear. If you dollop about 360ml of the cake mixture into a 1lb loaf tin you can pour all of the remaining mixture straight into your chosen 10 cup Bundt tin and it should fit real nice. Then you just bake both cakes side by side at the same time, no worries. And the best bit about that is you can save the delicious little bonus loaf cake for Ron. Later Ron. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
Cream Cheese Bundt.
* This is a cold start Bundt recipe so there is no need to preheat the oven. This should be enough mixture for a 10 cup Bundt tin and a 1lb loaf cake.
- 380g Plain Flour.
- 600g Granulated Sugar.
- 1 tsp Baking Powder.
- ½ tsp Salt.
- 300g Margarine.
- 260g Cream Cheese.
- 6 Eggs.
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract.
- 1 tsp Orange, Lemon or Almond Extract. I used lemon extract.
- Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Do not preheat the oven. Grease and flour a 10 cup Bundt tin. Grease and fully line a 1lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
- Using the whisk attachment: beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until aerated and well mixed.
- Add the margarine, cream cheese, eggs and both extracts. Beat on a low speed until just combined.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat until thick and smooth with no lumps, scraping down the bowl as necessary. This should not take more than two minutes.
- Place about 360ml of the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the surface. (It’s easiest if you use six level dollops from a 60ml ice cream scoop).
- Pour the remaining mixture into the prepared Bundt tin and smooth the surface.
- Place the cake tins into the cold oven. Turn the oven on to Gas Mark 3.
- Bake the Bundt for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the cake is pulling away from the edge of the tin slightly. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Mine took 90 minutes.
- The loaf will not take as long as that. You will have to keep your eye out and quickly remove it when well risen and golden brown. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Mine took 70 minutes.
- Cool each cake in the tin for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Dust with icing sugar just before serving.