While tennis isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, Gastrono-me’s Gemma Simmonite says you can still celebrate the essence of Wimbledon with her inspired cheesecake – game, set and match to Gemma!
I’d love to begin this article by telling you how much I adore Wimbledon, and how I utterly live for the tennis season, because quite frankly it would sew this article up rather nicely wouldn’t it?
But if I’m going to be completely truthful, I’m really not a tennis fan at all, far from it actually. I would 100 per cent rather partake in a slice of great cheesecake any day than be made to watch a tennis match, even if it were in front Centre Court seats – sacrilege to any sports fan I know!
Now that’s not to say that I don’t love everything that accompanies the Wimbledon season – juicy ripe strawberries dolloped with fresh cream, pitchers of chilled fruity Pimm’s and picnics on the lawn, those things definitely get me excited about July.
My disinterest in tennis could of course be that I’m entirely un-sporty and completely uncoordinated. In my lifetime, I’ve never actually achieved a rally that lasted longer than a second. Also, the jarring memory of my old PE teacher, equally bereft and bemused at the fact that I couldn’t hit a ball with a bat if my life depended, probably doesn’t help.
My total lack of talent at tennis is likely the reason that this yearly event is a complete anathema to me rather than an occasion to be savoured. In fact, the only time I ever sat down and watched Wimbledon was because a boy I was dating had a mother who adored tennis, and I being a keen girlfriend entirely pretended to love it as well in order to curry favour with her and her son. Shameful, I know!
So, you may feel that I’ve made this Wimbledon-inspired cheesecake as a fraud, but I think I can redeem myself in the fact that I have sunken many a Pimm’s cup in my time! Such a delicious summer drink topped full of ice, strawberries, refreshing cucumber and mint – what could be better on a British summer’s day? The drink is practically the epitome of celebration and good times.
Pimm was actually the son of a farmer from Kent, born in the 1800s who became the owner of an oyster bar in London. He concocted the drink as a tonic laced with herbs and liqueurs to aid digestion. It was served in a small tankard called a No.1 Cup, which is how it earnt its name. More Pimm’s creations followed using various spirits – vodka, whisky, brandy, and rum, but it is Pimm’s No.1 Cup with lemonade that has endured and delighted people for over a century. It is estimated the catering staff at Wimbledon serve over 300,000 Pimm’s cups during the championship fortnight!
I like think of Pimm’s as a sort of British sangria, equally exciting with its additions of fruit and herbs. And it’s those additions that made me think it would be the perfect drink to turn into a dessert. Just a simple baked vanilla cheesecake, adorned with quintessentially British crushed meringues, thinly pared cucumber spirals, raspberries, strawberries and the all-important Pimm’s glaze – literally a British summer slice on a plate.
If tennis is your thing, I truly hope you get to devour the next two weeks of sport, but even if it’s not your thing you can create this delicious dessert and devour it instead.
Have a really super July everyone x
PIMM’S NO 1 CUP RECIPE
400ml Pimm’s No.1
1 litre lemonade
Mint sprigs, sliced cucumber, sliced strawberries and oranges to serve
Fill a jug with ice and pour in the Pimm’s and the lemonade. Give it all a good stir then add the mint, cucumber and fruit.
Prep 30 mins
Cook 1hr 15
You will need a 23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined with parchment, clip the sides of the tin with the excess of parchment paper sticking out.
For the cheesecake base:
100g butter melted
225g digestive biscuits
2 tablespoons caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
900g Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
250g caster sugar
3 tablespoons of plain flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
3 large free-range eggs plus 1 yolk, room temperature
200ml sour cream, at room temperature and stirred until smooth
For the Pimm’s glaze:
300ml cloudy lemonade
1 tablespoon of strawberry jam
1 tablespoon of shredless orange marmalade
1 teaspoon of grenadine
For the cheesecake decoration:
A selection of strawberries and raspberries
Thinly pared cucumber
Crushed meringue shells
Heat the oven to 180C/160F.
Tip the biscuits, melted butter, caster and salt into a food processor and blitz to make fine crumbs, press into the tin firmly and bake for 10 minutes remove and allow to cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 220C/200F.
With an electric hand whisk or tabletop mixer beat the cream cheese on a low speed for about 2 minutes.
Slowly add the caster sugar, when incorporated add the flour, making sure to scrape down the sides.
Now add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, eggs, and the egg yolk, again scraping down to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
Add the soured cream and whisk on low until just blended.
Pour in the filling and bake for ten minutes.
Reduce the oven to 110C/90F and bake for a further 40 minutes.
Turn off the oven and open the door and leave for a further 2 hours.
Put the Pimm’s, lemonade, grenadine, jam and marmalade into a small saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Boil for 8-10 minutes until reduced and syrupy. Strain into a jug and cool.
Arrange the strawberries, raspberries, meringue pieces, coiled cucumber slices, and mint sprigs on top of the cheesecake.
Drizzle with the Pimm’s glaze to make your toppings glisten.
Gemma is executive chef and co-creator of Gastrono-me, Abbeygate Street, Bury St EdmundsRead Gemma’s blog at gemwithrelish.com
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