text shall follow shortly... Now it has. This is Saffron and Stem Ginger Cheesecake, based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe. Saffron seemed to me a rather unusual ingredient for cheesecake, and so did ginger (albeit not as unusual as saffron).
I know, you can sort of spot a strand of saffron on the surface of the cake in the image, but it'd be unlikely to guess that there's ginger in it.
Saffron, an indispensable spice for Spanish paella, is normally quite high-priced, but considering how small an amount you usually need at a time, it actually isn't too bad - although I wish I had gotten it in a smaller portion, even if I only got 1 gram (0.0353 oz!).
I first toasted saffron strands very lightly, then soaked them in hot water. I have always wondered how come these scarlet shreds would give out such near-fluorescent yellow.
The other featured flavor in this cheesecake is stem ginger, which is rarely, if at all, found in Japan. It is basically young ginger roots preserved in syrup, so I tried and reproduce something similar using first-of-the-season young ginger.
I cooked some ginger roots first in plain water, changing water several times, then in water, brown sugar, and honey. The ginger didn't get as tender as stem ginger should be, but I at least got syrup that resembled that of stem ginger. I decided to add some store-bought crystallized ginger bits.
Now the cheesecake batter, as with most other cakes I'd usually make, was quite easy to whip up. It should contain mascarpone cheese, creme fraiche and soured cream - and I just used mascarpone and sour cream, as creme fraiche also doesn't seem to exist in this country (sigh). Other than that, I followed the recipe - well except that I didn't bother to make sponge base but simply baked the cheesecake in small ramekins.
The cake rose prettily and then sunk. I chilled them overnight before having a bite, and the cakes had nice and moist, and yet light texture thanks to whipped egg white. Saffron definitely added a character to both flavor and color, whereas ginger wasn't all that prominent, which I wished it had been. It was really interesting to taste saffron in sweet stuff, I'd definitely explore this further (and I've got loads of saffron left!).