Bake off

Great Aus­tralian Bake Off win­ner Clau­dia An­ton’s fam­ily favourite.

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THIS CHEESE­CAKE RECIPE is very spe­cial for me. It’s been in my fam­ily since I was a child, baked over and again for fam­ily gath­er­ings and cel­e­bra­tions – it is quite a Ger­man tra­di­tion (An­ton’s mum is Ger­man). My aunts and my omi each had their own ver­sion where there would be a sub­tle dif­fer­ence in taste or tex­ture, but my mother’s was al­ways the best – a creamy, lemony, per­fect de­light.

I have fond mem­o­ries of my mother bak­ing it and teach­ing me how to make it so that it was just right. I would watch her spread the egg yolk over the top of the cake un­til it was a per­fect yel­low dome, and loved the chance to do this my­self. She used a spe­cial brand of quark that wasn’t al­ways easy to get hold of – I’m sure the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket in coun­try Vic­to­ria sup­plied it be­cause of her pa­tron­age.

I now have my own ver­sion of this baked cheese­cake to teach my daugh­ter. It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, with home­made vanilla cus­tard and a crisper base. I’ve jazzed up the recipe a lit­tle by adding sea­sonal cit­rus flavours and top­ping it with ripe figs, man­darin seg­ments and a tart cit­rus glaze. These fruits to­gether are jewel-like and fresh, and figs are al­ways so sump­tu­ous, sexy and gor­geous.

GER­MAN FIG CHEESE­CAKE SERVES 6-8

100g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 310g caster sugar 150g plain flour 520ml milk 1 tsp vanilla bean paste 4 eggs, sep­a­rated, plus ex­tra egg yolk 80g corn­flour, sifted 1kg quark, at room tem­per­a­ture Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 11/ 2 man­darins, plus juice of 1/2 a man­darin 1/3 cup (80ml) runny honey Figs and freeze-dried man­darins (op­tional), to serve

To make the base, in a stand mixer fit­ted with the pad­dle at­tach­ment, beat but­ter and 60g sugar un­til well com­bined. Beat in flour to form a dough. Flat­ten into a disc, en­close in plas­tic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Pre­heat oven to 220°C. Grease base and sides of a 22cm spring­form cake pan and line with bak­ing pa­per. On a floured sur­face, roll dough to fit base of pre­pared pan. Line base, trim ex­cess and chill for 15 min­utes. Bake for 15 min­utes or un­til just golden, then cool. Re­duce oven to 160°C.

Place 500ml milk, 200g sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over high heat and bring to just be­low the boil. Whisk yolks, corn­flour and re­main­ing 50g sugar un­til pale and thick. Grad­u­ally whisk milk mix­ture into yolk mix­ture. Re­turn to saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, un­til boil­ing. Trans­fer to a bowl, cover with plas­tic wrap and chill.

Whisk quark, lemon zest, zest from 1 man­darin and half ex­tra egg yolk un­til com­bined. Add cus­tard and whisk un­til com­bined. Whisk egg­whites to soft peaks and fold into cus­tard. Pour over base. Com­bine re­main­ing half ex­tra egg yolk with re­main­ing 20ml milk and brush over cheese­cake. Bake for 2 hours or un­til just set. Set aside to cool, then chill for 4 hours or un­til set. Re­move from pan.

Com­bine man­darin juice, honey and re­main­ing man­darin zest in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a sim­mer.

Top cheese­cake with figs and dried man­darins, if us­ing, and driz­zle with the man­darin honey to serve.

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