baking, life balance

Don’t sweat the small stuff – a tale of a white chocolate cheesecake

We had 7 people over for dinner tonight. Well, they were members of my husband’s family so were somewhat forgiving in terms of my culinary endeavours but I still wanted dinner to be special. So early this morning I started to prepare a beautiful white chocolate cheesecake using a recipe I had used many times before. Unfortunately it did not go as I had expected.

Cheesecake, under normal circumstances, is not difficult to make if you remember a few simple rules. Do not over cook or it will taste dry. To combat this I have found a water bath to be the best way forward. Chatelaine magazine has a great article on how to do this. Use a simple recipe. Don’t let your cheesecake endeavours get too complicated. My go to white chocolate cheesecake recipe is here. Finally, do not overfill the springform pan with batter. If you do this, it could overflow the pan while baking and that would be a cheesecake disaster.

So you ask, what went wrong? Well first of all, I am baking in my beautiful retirement home kitchen, and for the life of me I cannot remember what I have in terms of equipment in my retirement home kitchen and in my temporary tiny Kingston Ontario kitchen. Today, my Kingston kitchen came out on top for equipment readiness. If I hadn’t bought an additional springform pan yesterday while grocery shopping (just in case) I would have been without a springform pan today. I would have had to serve my guests cheesecake cupcakes. My cupboards only held parts of springform pans of various sizes. The complementing parts of the pans are likely in one of the 50 odd boxes in my basement yet to be unpacked.

Secondly, I could not find a suitable shallow pan to use as a water bath, so I decided to bake the cheesecake in the oven and put a small pan of water beside the springform pan to act as a water bath. It wan’t a good substitute. Again, the shallow pan I needed is somewhere in the myriad of unpacked boxes in the basement.

The fatal flaw was that I inadvertently pressed the “bake convection” button when I put the cheesecake in the oven. So when I came to check on the cheesecake in the middle of the baking time, it was already a horrifying shade of brown from the convection setting. I was near tears as I looked at it. To finish the tragedy, I didn’t put all of the batter in the springform pan because I thought it might overflow. In my caution I took out too much batter and my finished cheesecake was too short. It was not a good cheesecake day in the Victoria Sweet household. Amateur mistakes all.

Today was also a holiday in Nova Scotia and all stores were closed, so I had no other choice but to serve my substandard cheesecake. I topped it with a slightly sweetened strawberry sauce and hoped for the best, knowing that I was serving family and that they would forgive my culinary transgressions. I was overwhelmed with the positive comments – regardless of its issues, the white chocolate cheesecake was a hit. So this, my friends, leads me to the lesson of today – do not sweat the small stuff. Do your best, play your hand and keep moving forward. Don’t focus on what you feel are your failings, because you may find that no one else but you has noticed them. Here’s a picture of what was left over after dinner. Although it was definitely prettier with the strawberries on top, I’m glad that I decided to serve it and not put it out in the compost. Next time, though, I’ll do an inventory of materials on hand before I start to bake.

Yours in all things baked,

Victoria Sweet