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In the first of a new regular series, Bea Vo of Bea's of Bloomsbury offers up a red, white and blue baked cheesecake, fit for any summer celebration.



400g digestive biscuits
75-100g unsalted butter, melted
800g cream cheese
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
50g cornflour
250ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract


250ml whipping cream
250g mascarpone
60g icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 punnet raspberries
1 punnet strawberries
hulled and halved
1 punnet blackberries
1 punnet blueberries
25cm regular cake tin, greased and with the base lined with parchment paper


Tip: "New-York style cheesecakes," explains the American pastry chef, "are typically baked in a hot oven to begin with and then the oven is turned off, helping to create a dark brown crust and a soft, silky texture. Other recipes require high heat and a water bath to gently cook the cheesecake. However, this means the top is still exposed to hot air and thus prone to cracking. For this recipe, I wanted a compromise between the two, so I opted for low heat all the way through. No fuss with water baths and loose-bottomed cake tins."

Preheat the oven to 125˚C/gas 1. To make the crust, crush the digestive biscuits until you get fine crumbs.

Add the melted butter – just enough at first to bind the crumbs. Test your mixture is the right consistency by grabbing a bit of it and squeezing it in your hand to make a ball, then releasing your hand. It should hold its shape but also fall apart when touched slightly. If it doesn't hold its shape, add more butter, otherwise the biscuit will dissolve into the cheesecake and you'll have no crust. If it holds its shape too well, add more biscuits to absorb the butter, otherwise your crust will be too hard.

Press the mixture into the prepared cake tin and pat down until level. Put the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until well mixed and the sugar has dissolved.

Slowly add the eggs, one at a time and bit by bit, beating until thoroughly combined at each stage. Scrape the side of the bowl regularly to make sure everything is incorporated.

Sift the cornflour into the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Mix in the cream and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture over the crust in the cake tin and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the middle is slightly jiggly and the top doesn't look shiny or wet any more. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 1 hour.

Refrigerate overnight. Unmould the cheesecake by turning it upside down on a plate or board, then righting it again. To make the topping, put the cream in a bowl and, using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment or an electric whisk, whisk to stiff peaks. Fold in the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla extract. Casually spread the topping onto the cheesecake and scatter over the berries. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

"Tea with Bea" by Bea Vo is published by Ryland, Peters and Small, £16.99. Look out for Bea's new cookbook, "Afternoon Tea with Bea", early next year.


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