As the Vuelta a Espana finishes its second week, we’re in Asturias for a second day which features the climb to Lagos de Covadonga, arguably the most important climb in the modern history of the Vuelta. The road that leads to the lakes is 12.6 kms long at an average gradient of 7.3%, including the most demanding section at La Huesera, 7 kms from the top of the climb, with an average gradient of 15% for 800 meters.
Asturias produces many wonderful cheeses and this traditional baked cheesecake recipe is made with a local fresh goat’s cheese called requeson, but any soft fresh goat’s cheese would work just as well.
1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F/320°F fan).
2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 24cm (9½”) glass or ceramic baking dish.
3. In a large bowl, combine the chosen cheese and butter. In another, beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, preferably with an electric mixer. Then gently add egg and sugar mixture to butter and cheese.
4. Add lemon zest, cinnamon and brandy (optional) and continue to gently fold, then gradually add in the sifted flour until the batter starts to thicken.
5. Pour the batter into the dish, place in the oven and bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until the quesada turns pale golden colour, the centre doesn’t wobble and it’s just starting to come away from the sides of the dish.
6. Remove and allow to cool before serving. Decorate with a dusting of icing (confectioners’) sugar and cinnamon and serve with fruit compote.
1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.
2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cheesecake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.
3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.
4. A lot of the recipes I saw for this cheesecake suggested substituting ricotta but it’s a much sweeter cheese, doesn’t have quite the same tang, and is made from cow’s not goat’s milk. So I used a local soft French goat’s cheese which has the consistency of creme fraiche.
5. I do not have an overly sweet tooth so I reduced the amount of sugar in the original recipe by a third and it was just right, particularly given that it’s served with a dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon.
6. If you’re not a fan of cinnamon, substitute 1 tsp of freshly grated orange zest and dust with just icing sugar.
7. The texture is not dissimilar to that of a traditional New York baked cheesecake, so I felt it needed to be served with some seasonal fruit compote. This time I’ve used white peaches.
8. The original recipe calls for brandy but it’s not a flavour I favour, particularly when the fruit compote has been cooked in alcohol. So I left it out.
9. You may have noticed that my sugar jar has cinnamon sticks in it. I have a number of flavoured sugars in my cupboard. Typically, vanilla – repository for all those used vanilla pods – cinnamon, rosemary and lavender. Great for adding a little je ne sais quoi to baked goodies.
10. Like me you can also make the quesada in individual dishes or ramekins but don’t forget to reduce the cooking time accordingly. These were made in crème brulée dishes and they took 17 minutes to cook.