Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake
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    Serves 20 for afternoon tea or dessert
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I grew up with pumpkins and squashes being a staple in our household during autumn and through into winter. Mum used to store pumpkins, and with some varieties she would prepare and freeze them in their raw state and then make various delights throughout the winter from her pumpkin collection.

For this baked cheesecake you do need a pumpkin variety with a dry flesh – I like to use sugar pie or red kuri, so would recommend one of these. If the pumpkin is nice and small, cut it open, scoop out the seeds, put it back together and then roast it in the oven for about 1½ hours – this will soften the flesh and lock in the delicious pumpkin flavour. The pumpkin could be roasted a day in advance for ease and speed, then cooled and kept in the fridge overnight, if you like.

I have used ginger nut biscuits for the base, but you could use plain digestive biscuits instead, if you prefer.Photo of Baked Pumpkin Cheesecakephoto of Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients & Method

For the cheesecake

  • 1 small round firm-fleshed pumpkin (sugar pie or red kuri varieties are best), about 500g total/unprepared weight
  • 150g ginger nut biscuits
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 400g full-fat soft cheese (such as Philadelphia)
  • 300g quark
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • a pinch of table salt

To serve

  • 300ml double cream
  • ½ vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 50g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 ginger nut biscuits, crumbled/crushed into crumbs

For the cheesecake, first prepare the pumpkin. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, put the two halves back together and wrap in foil, then place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for about 1½ hours or until the flesh is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool and steam (still wrapped in the foil) for about 1 hour. Scoop out the cooked soft flesh (discard the skin), place the cooked pumpkin flesh in a Thermomix (or food processor) and blend on speed 10 (or process) for 2–3 minutes until very smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a 28 x 18cm loose-bottomed oblong cake frame (placed on a baking tray) or tin with non-stick baking paper (if you don’t have a frame or tin like this, then use a 25cm loose-bottomed springform tin and line with non-stick baking paper). To make the crust, place the biscuits in a food processor and blend to make fine crumbs, then add the melted butter and pulse to incorporate. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake frame or tin and press it over the lined baking tray within the frame (or over the tin base), smoothing it over to create a smooth and even, thick base. Chill in the fridge until the filling is made.

Weigh 400g of the cooled cooked pumpkin purée into a Thermomix jug (or food processor), then add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla seeds, soft cheese, quark, eggs, flour and salt. Blend for 30 seconds on speed 10 (or process briefly), scrape down the sides and then repeat the process until the mixture is smooth and combined. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug or bowl and then pour it evenly over the biscuit base in the prepared frame or tin.

Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 35 minutes, then turn the oven off, open the door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 15 minutes, and then remove from the oven and leave to cool completely (see Cook’s Notes).

Make the Chantilly cream to serve. Place the cream, vanilla seeds and icing sugar in a bowl, then whip together until thickened. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle, then refrigerate until needed.

Carefully remove the frame or tin from the cooked and cooled cheesecake, then trim and neaten the edges with a sharp knife, if necessary. Cut the cheesecake in half lengthways and then cut each half into 10 even slices (to make 20 slices in total).

Arrange the cheesecake slices on a serving platter, pipe some Chantilly cream on top of each slice and decorate with a sprinkling of ginger nut crumbs. Serve.

Cook’s Notes

I usually make the cheesecake a day in advance, then once it’s cool, refrigerate it overnight – this makes cutting and decorating it easier.

Both the cheesecake and Chantilly cream can be made/prepared in advance and will keep for up to 3 days in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, simply cut and decorate the cheesecake as directed above, just before serving.