It's not the act of cooking and baking that gets me down — it's the cleaning. It's the specter of a sink full of dirty pans piling up in my tiny, dishwasher-free kitchen that sometimes makes me want to just unwrap a Nutty Buddy and call it a night. When I see cooking shows with little mise en place setups of individual bowls of ingredients and a hundred tasting spoons, I feel cranky on behalf of the unseen individuals who have to wash them all.
I know I'm not unique in this feeling. It's why so many of us love a one-bowl dessert recipe, sheet pan dinner or fix-it and forget-it slow cooker situation. And it's why Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook is called "One: Simple One-Pan Wonders." Like his "5 Ingredients" and "15-Minute Meals," it contains a practical, budget-friendly collection of approachable recipes for real-world cooks, with a particular eye for those of us who don't want to spend the rest of the evening back in the kitchen following a memorable meal.
I was excited to work my way through a lot of the recipes in this book, including Oliver's skillet pasta dishes and comforting soups. But it was the lemony cheesecake, assembled and baked in a frying pan, that I couldn't wait to tackle first.
I spent most of my baking life avoiding cheesecakes, intimidated by springform pans and water baths. Then I discovered the internet-famous Basque cheesecake, and after realizing that a rich, luxurious cheesecake doesn't have to be fussy, I never looked back.
Oliver's heavenly interpretation relies on a Biscoff crust, a generous shot of lemon juice and lots of tart raspberries. It also bakes in about half the time of a traditional cheesecake, which means you don't need to clear your schedule to make one. I made my version with thawed frozen strawberries and swapped Oliver's vanilla paste for the easier-to-find vanilla extract. You, too, should feel free to make it your own.
This is a cheesecake that doesn't demand you worry about a perfect springform release or the top cracking. It's crumbly and a little messy. Plus, it isn't super smooth, as the fruit splats around haphazardly.
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Above all, this cheesecake is absolutely, intensely delicious. It's a dessert you make for people you love and feel comfortable around, perhaps to cap off a hearty chili or some slider sloppy joes. And when they ask if you need any help with the dishes, you can send them off to the kitchen guilt-free.
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Inspired by "One: Simple One-Pan Wonders" by Jamie Oliver
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 8 ounces Biscoff or gingersnap cookies (See Cook's Notes)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 pounds (3 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 halved and juiced lemon
- 10 ounces strawberries, raspberries or blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Melt the butter over low heat in an 11-inch ovenproof frying pan. Meanwhile, crush the cookies into crumbs using a food processor or reusable food storage bag and rolling pin.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir the crumbs into the butter. Using the bottom of a measuring cup or similar device, pat the crumbs down to make an even layer, letting them go up the sides of the pan a bit. Bake for 5 minutes.
- While the crust bakes, mix the eggs, vanilla and most of the confectioners' sugar (reserving a few teaspoons) in the food processor for about 2 minutes. You may use a hand or stand mixer, as well.
- Mix in the cream cheese and the juice of the lemon. Once everything is blended, pour over the crust.
- In a small bowl, with a fork, smash half the fruit with the remaining confectioners' sugar, then pour it into the cheesecake base and stir until just combined. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and scatter the remaining fruit on top with a little extra confectioners' sugar. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Turn on the broiler and brown the cheesecake for 2 or 3 minutes, until a little puffed and golden.
- Remove from oven, let cool completely, then transfer to fridge and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve the cake in slices, or spoon into shallow bowls straight out of the pan.
You may, of course, use different cookies for the crust. Graham crackers, for instance, are a classic.
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