Discover the Traditional London Cheesecake – A Delightful British Pastry

When it comes to traditional British pastries, there’s one treat that has stood the test of time yet remains somewhat of a hidden gem – the London Cheesecake. Despite its name, this delightful pastry has no cheese involved but is a unique concoction that has been enjoyed by Londoners for generations.

What is a London Cheesecake?

A London Cheesecake is a classic British pastry that consists of a flaky puff pastry base, filled with a layer of jam, topped with a coconut and almond sponge, and often garnished with a cherry on top. However, as seen in many modern versions, the cherry is sometimes omitted, focusing more on the rich coconut topping. Unlike its name might suggest, there’s no cheese in a London Cheesecake. The name is believed to derive from the soft, creamy texture of the filling that somewhat resembles cheesecake.

A Brief History

The origins of the London Cheesecake are somewhat obscure, but it’s firmly rooted in the tradition of British baking. These pastries have been a staple in London’s bakeries for over a century, loved for their unique texture and delightful combination of flavours. They were particularly popular during the Victorian era, a time when afternoon tea and sweet treats became a prominent part of British culture.

Discover the Traditional London Cheese Cake - A Delightful British Pastry
Image Used Under Licence

The Making of a London Cheesecake

Creating a London Cheese Cake involves a few steps, but the result is well worth the effort. Here’s a simple outline of how these treats are made:

  1. Puff Pastry Base: The foundation of the cake is a crispy puff pastry. This can be homemade or store-bought for convenience.
  2. Jam Layer: A thin layer of sweet jam, traditionally raspberry or strawberry, is spread over the pastry. This adds a fruity contrast to the otherwise creamy and nutty flavours.
  3. Coconut and Almond Sponge: The topping is a moist sponge made from a mix of desiccated coconut and ground almonds, giving it a distinctive texture and taste.
  4. Coconut Topping: The finished pastry is generously topped with desiccated coconut, as seen in the photo above, giving it a snowy, textured appearance.

London Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • For the Puff Pastry Base:
  • 1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry
  • For the Filling:
  • 4 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam
  • For the Sponge Topping:
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • For the Icing:
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • For the Garnish:
  • 50g desiccated coconut (for topping)
  • Glace cherries (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Puff Pastry:
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Roll out the puff pastry sheet and cut it into 6 equal squares.
  • Place the squares on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden and puffed. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  1. Add the Jam Layer:
  • Once the puff pastry squares are cool, spread a thin layer of jam over each one.
  1. Prepare the Sponge Topping:
  • In a bowl, cream together the softened butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract.
  • Fold in the desiccated coconut, ground almonds, and self-raising flour until well combined.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly over the jam layer on each puff pastry square.
  1. Bake:
  • Return the topped pastries to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the sponge is golden and set.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  1. Prepare the Icing:
  • In a bowl, mix the icing sugar with enough water to achieve a thick but spreadable consistency.
  • Spread the icing over the top of each cooled cake.
  1. Garnish:
  • Sprinkle the top with desiccated coconut.
  • Optionally, place a glace cherry in the center of each cake.
  1. Serve and Enjoy:
  • Allow the icing to set before serving. Enjoy your delicious London Cheesecakes with a cup of tea or coffee.

This recipe captures the essence of the traditional London Cheese Cake while offering a straightforward approach to making this delightful treat at home. Enjoy baking and tasting this historical pastry!

Enjoying London Cheesecakes

London Cheesecakes are perfect for any occasion. They make a delightful treat for afternoon tea, a sweet end to a meal, or a snack to enjoy with a cup of coffee. Their combination of textures and flavours – from the crisp pastry to the creamy sponge and fruity jam – make them irresistible.

Where to Find Them

While you can make London Cheesecakes at home, several bakeries across London still bake these traditional treats. Some well-known spots include:

  • The E5 Bakehouse: Known for its artisanal approach, E5 Bakehouse offers a modern take on traditional pastries.
  • St. John Bakery: Renowned for its classic British baked goods, St. John Bakery is a great place to find authentic London Cheese Cakes.
  • Gail’s Bakery: With numerous locations across London, Gail’s offers a range of delicious pastries, including their own version of the London Cheese Cake.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a Londoner born and bred or a visitor looking to explore the city’s culinary heritage, the London Cheesecake is a must-try. Its unique combination of flavours and historical roots make it a standout among British pastries. Next time you’re in London, or if you fancy a baking challenge at home, give the London Cheese Cake a try – it’s a taste of history in every bite.


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