No-bake Caramel and Peach cheesecake. Or, the day I smashed the oven door.

This creamy cheesecake is certainly a thing of beauty. But beauty born admittedly of absolute disaster… Every cloud? When one of our university friends was over for dinner a couple of weeks ago I was lifting an apple crumble out of the oven (domestic goddess) and somehow the combination of hot ceramics and oven gloves meant I managed to drop the whole thing onto the inside of the oven door. The inside glass panel shattered instantly into a million tiny pieces (safety glass — great) and we three were left for a moment as if frozen: just staring at what had just happened. And swearing.

Perhaps the most stressful part about renting, especially renting when you’re just starting out and don’t have an abundance of extra money lying around, is that you don’t own most of the stuff that you could potentially break during your everyday apple-crumble-creation activities. And so smashing the oven was followed by hours of sweeping up broken glass, and trying to get the shards out of the door mechanism so that it would actually shut, and then more hours of agonising over how much a new oven door was going to cost… I write this now from the safe vantage point of having had the oven door inside panel replaced at not too extravagant a cost last week, so… phew.

But to cut to the chase, here is what you need to know:

1) I had no oven for a few weeks

2) I cannot survive without pudding

So I made this cheesecake. It was nice. It is not necessary to smash your oven door in order to enjoy it in all of its glory.

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Ingredients

For the base
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter
For the filling
  • 450g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tin Coronation caramel (you could use Dulche de leche or something similar )
  • 240ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
To go on top
  • 1 tin of peaches
  • 15g butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar, or more

Directions

– To make the base, simply melt the butter in a large bowl (I just melt mine in the microwave – you can melt yours however you like. How liberal of me) and then add the crushed digestives (I don’t have a food processor so I put my biscuits in a freezer bag and hit them with a rolling pin until they were powder)

– Mix until the butter is evenly distributed, and then grease your tin (I used a spring-form circular number) and press the mixture down so that it forms an even base. I used the flat bottom of a glass to get the base nice and flat.

– Put into the fridge to chill and harden.

– In a large bowl (or a mixer if you have one) beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the can of caramel and beat until smooth and all combined.

– In a separate medium bowl, beat cream and powdered sugar on high until soft peaks form – about 3 mins with a mixer, or about 10 mins + very sore arms if you’re just using a whisk like I was…

– With a rubber spatula, stir about one-third of the whipped cream/icing sugar mix into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the rest. Make sure it’s all combined, but avoid over-mixing.

– Tip onto the base and smooth the top with a spatula.

– Cover tightly and refrigerate until firm, 3 hours (or up to 2 days).

– For the decorative caramelised peaches, first line a baking tray with grease proof paper.

– Empty your tin of peaches into a sieve, and rinse under cold water, then pat dry with kitchen towel to get rid of as much moisture as possible.

– Heat the butter in a frying pan, and when it’s hot lay the peaches in carefully, so they’re not touching each other. Sprinkle enough brown sugar over the top to cover each piece. Cook for about 2 mins, then flip them over. Coat the new side with more brown sugar, and then flip again.

– One the peaches are sticky and somewhat caramelised, lay them out on the grease proof paper. Let them cool completely.

– Arrange on the top of your cheesecake however you like before serving.

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Listening to: Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars, Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, Places to Go by Leftover Cuties, Completely by Caro Emerald.

Recipe adapted from this one from The Food Charlatan: I changed the base (her crust required an oven…) and used tinned peaches rather than fresh because it’s what I had, as well as making a few other tweaks.

All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures: The Haberdashery, Crouch End

Last weekend, my lovely friend Helen came to stay. We share an ardent appreciation of all things vintage, pretty and higgledy-piggledy — we spend a lot of time exchanging links to beautiful tiles and extravagant baking projects. Mainly on Pinterest. You get the picture. And so when she arrived off the train at King’s Cross from my home town, I really wanted to make the most of having her in London and go somewhere adorable and awesome. A quick Google search of something along the very predictable lines of ‘cosiest cafes in London’ yielded The Haberdashery: the name had me instantly hooked. It was only an easy half hour bus ride from where we were to Crouch End, so off we went.

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I didn’t manage to get my own photograph of the amazing interior; this one is from the cafe’s website

We loved it! The interior is stunning; vintage and chintzy in all of the best ways with excellent use of Victorian fireplace tiles and coffee bowls (yep, we saw people getting hot chocolate in what looked like breakfast bowls, heaven) hanging eccentrically behind the till. Our drinks came in glass bottles, and our food arrived on charmingly mismatched vintage plates. AND our butter came in an ancient looking ceramic tub that once contained ‘Sainsbury’s Freshly Made Bloater Paste’, which it turns out (thanks, Google) is a kind of fish paste made from Bloater fish, which is traditionally eaten on toast for afternoon tea. No actual fish paste on offer, sadly, so I had a Breakfast Roll with bacon and egg. The bread was lovely —  exactly the right level of toasted — sweet and chewy. The egg was fresh and cooked to perfection — the bacon just as good. I know, I know, it’s an egg and bacon sandwich. But that just seems like a massive understatement: it really was unlike any I’ve ever eaten.

I also had a yummy Elderflower Soda Jar, which of course came in an actual chunky jar with a handle. Again, it was like Elderflower cordial I’d had before, but just somehow better. The cakes looked amazing, but we were just too full after our delicious mains to sample any! I have vowed to return for afternoon tea very, very soon. Here’s the website: if you ever find yourself in Crouch End, definitely pop in. Actually scrap that, it’s worth making the journey especially, if only just to avoid another soul- destroying “Oh, I suppose we’ll just go to Starbucks, then” moment. I’ll certainly be back!

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

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Elderflower Cordial in a handy-handled jar

Helen with 'The Colonial' Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

Helen with ‘The Colonial’ Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015. Except the first photograph, which is from The Haberdashery’s website here.

Design in small spaces

Our flat is pretty nice. It’s also pretty small. Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom… That’s kind of it. This, my friends, is what two graduate salaries in the Arts/Humanities can rent you in London town. I really shouldn’t complain, we’ve actually got a very good deal: a lot of the places we looked at only had two rooms, and would have involved waking up, rolling out of bed and seeing your reflection in the oven door immediately opposite. One place I looked at online genuinely had the shower in the bedroom i.e. cubicle next to the bed. Quite a lot had no fridge or washing machine. The city should really employ me to advertise the perks of London living… Anyway.

To me, home is important: I’m definitely a home bird at heart. So even though this place is rented, and we can’t hang anything on the walls or have our own furniture or replace the dodgy extraction fan on the hob, I was determined to make it nice. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune (you know, Arts salaries, see above), so I used a lot of what I already had. I thought I’d share some of my efforts with you, in a handy numbered list of unfortunate home scenarios, and how to make them nicer.

Scenario One

A small, cheap white table. Quite wobbly, with a very warped and bubbled top from where the previous tenant has spilled something. Or been using a blowtorch. The letting agent promised to remove this on the day we moved in. It is now two months later and it’s still here, so I thought I’d make the best of it.

I made a kind of runner with a scarf which I’ve had for ages- it was a present and I think it originally came from New Look. I love books as decoration, so I piled up some of my prettiest ones. On top of the pile is a candle teacup which my mum made with a teacup and saucer that they were selling for about 50p at the local British Legion, melted down tea lights and string. Next to it is a vase that I bought for £5 from Next while I was at university because somebody bought me flowers too nice for a plastic bottle. Et voila.

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Scenario Two

A space which is small enough that you put down your bag at the end of the day and it feels like the messiest and most cluttered space on earth, combined with a slight make-up/cosmetics addiction. Solution: put it all in a massive box, but preferably a pretty box. With old maps on. That you got from TK Maxx for a tenner. The space instantly looks neater and all of your stuff is still easily accessible. I used all kinds of mismatched stuff to store my makeup and brushes inside, including a mustard tin and a makeup box that is straight out of an S Club 7 dressing room in the ’90s. This is a good tip for desks and stationary, as well as dressing tables. This is my kind of tidying, just hide it all away…

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OH MY GOSH SO MUCH MAKEUP DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING

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Scenario Three

Your heating is externally controlled by a mysterious being/ force that does not exist along the same space/ time continuum as we do. Thus it’s sometimes freezing, especially in November. Solution: get a throw in your life. This one is from BHS. It is so snuggly and warm it will change your life (no overstatement there) and make you choose activities based on whether you can complete them from under the aforementioned blanket of joy. TV/YouTube/reading are in. Washing up is probably out.

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Just looking at it makes you feel warm

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.