Soweto-born and raised Boitshoko Lekaba shared his recipe for Baked Lemon Cheesecake. The chef, who graduated from Capsicum with a Diploma in Patisserie, has experience in fine dining establishments DW Eleven 13 and Clico Boutique Hotel, and has also completed a stint at Jamie’s Italian Melrose Arch as Chef de Partie in Pastry.
He then travelled to the US to work in the pastry department of JW Marriot Minneapolis Mall of America Hotel, before returning home. Today he works as a private chef – “As a private chef I offer a variety of starters, mains and desserts because, as much as I’m a pastry chef, I also know how to make great meals as I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in almost all parts of the kitchen in my previous work experience.”
Here, he shares his recipe for Baked Lemon Cheesecake with Italian Meringue
Baked Lemon Cheesecake with Italian Meringue
175g digestive or shortbread biscuits
80g unsalted butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
4 eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
400g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 140°C. Lightly grease a 24cm springform cake pan and line the base with baking paper. Half-fill a deep baking tray with boiling water and place on the bottom shelf of the oven.
- Place the biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they form crumbs. Add the melted butter to the processor and pulse to combine. Press the biscuit mixture into the base of the prepared pan.
- To make the filling, place the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and pulse until smooth and well combined. Add the eggs, egg yolk, lemon zest and juice, then pulse until well combined. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract, then pulse until smooth.
- Pour the filling over the prepared base, then bake the cake on the middle shelf of the oven for 60 minutes (it should still have a slight wobble in the centre).
- Leave cheesecake to cool in the switched-off oven for a further hour or until completely set.
- Note – I like to top my lemon cheesecake with an Italian meringue. It’s optional but for those who want to do the same, herewith the meringue recipe.
Italian Meringue (makes about 1½ cups)
150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
60ml (¼ cup) water
60g (¼ cup) egg whites (about 2 large eggs)
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the syrup to come to a boil.
- Add the egg whites to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and mix (with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) until foamy and the whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
- Once the syrup is boiling, clip on a sugar thermometer.
- Cook until the syrup reaches 116°C then take the pan off the heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the foamy egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Don’t pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl (or into your face!). Instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
- Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
- Use immediately or keep in the fridge (covered) until ready to use. It’s a very stable meringue, so it won’t start weeping, leaking or collapsing.