A Sixties-style smoked salmon cheesecake with vodka
This savoury cake is worthy of Lee Miller – the Picasso muse cum war correspondent cum cookery writer who once concocted a tomato soup cake (apparently not bad).
There’s a neat naffness about this dish, and it’s underpinned by an inside-out idea – the classic sweet cheesecake turned savoury – which is stuff of the sixties when Miller was most prolific in terms of recipes.
In spite of the sharpness of the smoked salmon, the lime, and the vodka it’s quite soft and mild…all that dairy… full-fat milk, crème fraîche, cream cheese… So it needs the pep of the pickle. You could serve it with a hot peppery salad of rocket and spring onions; or a different version using watercress and lightly pickled beetroot; or a bowl of baby cornichons; or you could make your own lightly pickled cucumber.
It makes a very festive centrepiece for a party.
For a post on Lee Miller follow this link.
Recipe for a sixties-style smoked salmon cheesecake with vodka
- 215g/8 oz shortcrust pastry– all butter if possible
- 250g/9 oz cream cheese
- 200g/8 oz smoked salmon
- 4 eggs
- a few grinds of nutmeg
- finely grated zest and juice of a lime
- 200 ml/¾ cup crème fraîche
- 1 tbsp vodka
- 120 ml/½ cup full-fat milk
- salt and pepper
- flour – about 3 tbsps
- butter for greasing the tin
- Preheat the oven to 210ºC and grease a deepish, loose-based cake tin.
- Flour a surface and roll out the pastry into a large circle, large enough to line the cake tin with some of the pastry hanging over the edge.
- Prick the pastry base all over with a fork. Line the pastry with baking paper, fill with baking beans or rice and bake blind for about ten minutes (follow this link for more about baking blind). Take out the baking beans and the baking paper.
- Beat one of the eggs and brush the pastry all over with it. Return to the oven for another five minutes.
- Trim the top of the ‘cake’ of the overhanging pastry and set aside to cool.
- Turn the heat down to 150ºC (use the top left Aga oven).
- Meanwhile make the filling by first chopping the salmon finely and then putting it into a large bowl with the cream cheese. Whisk with an electric mixer.
- Separate the eggs (putting the whites directly into a large metal bowl), and add the egg yolks. Then add the zest and juice of the lime, mix again. Grind over the nutmeg. Mix again.
- Add two tablespoons of plain flour. Mix. Add the soured cream, vodka, milk, and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix again. Taste. Add salt if necessary.
- Whisk the egg whites. When they are stiff fold them into the creamy salmon mix.
- Pour this mix into the cooled pastry case (still in its tin) and bake for 1½ hours – it should be set but still a little springy.
- Take out of the oven and leave for ten minutes or so. Then carefully take the ‘cake’ out of the tin. Once cool, serve.