This cheesecake, featured in my Mediterranean anti-cancer cookbook Zest for Life (available now from my publisher, Troubador, and soon from all leading bookshops) is a speciality of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, where it is made with fresh ewes’ milk cheese. Oodles of lemon zest and the absence of pastry make this a delightfully light and refreshing dessert or afternoon treat. If using very fresh ewes’ milk cheese or ricotta, this cake can get a bit wet. That’s why it’s best to surround it with multiple layers of kitchen paper for an hour after baking to drain off excess moisture, as explained below. (Makes one 20-cm cake.)
450 g fromage frais (fresh ewes’ or goats’ milk cheese or ricotta cheese); if you have time, drain it in a sieve lined with a cotton muslin cloth over a bowl for a few hours
4 eggs, yolks and whites, separated
grated zest of 2 lemons (untreated)
4 tbsp acacia honey
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly butter a 20-cm diameter round cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Place cheese in a mixing bowl. Add egg yolks, honey, lemon zest, corn flour and vanilla extract and whisk into a smooth custard. In another bowl, beat egg whites until firm, adding salt halfway through, and gently fold into the cheese mixture. Pour into prepared cake tin and bake at the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove when cooked and cool for 10 minutes.
Now comes the (fairly simple) juggling trick needed to drain off excess moisture. Lay 6-8 sheets of kitchen paper on top of the cake, followed by a large overturned plate. Swiftly flip it over so the cake now rests on top of the kitchen paper, on the plate. Remove cake tin and baking parchment and lay another 6-8 leaves of kitchen paper on this side of the cake, pressing it down gently with another plate. Leave for 30-60 minutes, allowing excess moisture to drain off into the kitchen paper surrounding the cake. When drained, remove top plate and paper, turn upside down again onto final serving platter and peel off the layer of paper that the cake was resting on. Sounds complicated, but it’s easy, really!
Serve chilled or at room temperature with freshly pureed apricots or raspberries or with a scattering of fresh berries.