‘We want people to be excited about what we do, and to feel as though they are coming into our home,’ says self-declared rebel baker David Muniz, who runs Outsider Tart in Chiswick with his partner David Lesniak. The shop is unlike any bakers we’ve ever seen, with its art oddities, black walls, rainbow Corian counter and New Jersey circus illumination.

Once we’ve had a good ogle of the imported goodies on the shelves (expat heaven), we follow David downstairs, where we discover a whole team of young bakers, working on the mint Baileys brownies, apple and bourbon pop tarts, billionaire’s shortbread and baked cheesecake that, David says, are the product of his non-technical, self-taught, trial-and-error approach. We’re here to see him produce a simple praline cheesecake from scratch, and pick up a few tips on how to get it right. ‘The Italians did it first, with ricotta,’ says David. ‘This uses cream cheese, which is good and solid; we mix it with silky, slightly acidic sour cream.’ It’s a downright classic, and surprisingly easy to prepare.

Outsider Tart’s praline cheesecake

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 175g granulated sugar
  • Six tbsps plain flour
  • 250g pecan halves

For the cheesecake:

  • 900g softened cream cheese
  • 340g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or Maldon salt
  • Four large eggs at room temp
  • Two tsps vanilla extract
  • 275g sour cream

For the topping:

  • 60g softened unsalted butter
  • 60ml double cream
  • 225g light brown sugar
  • 175g pecan halves, ground
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1

    Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F, and butter a 23cm cake tin with removable bottom. Cover the bottom and part of the way up the sides with foil. Alternatively, use a springform cake tin.

  • 2

    Combine all the ingredients for the crust, and stir in an electric mixer on a low speed, keeping the texture a little bit chunky.

  • 3

    Press the mixture into the tin, and partially up the sides. Then refrigerate while you make the filling.

  • 4

    Beat the cream cheese at medium speed for about four minutes, until light.

  • 5

    Add the sugar and salt and mix for another four minutes or so.

  • 6

    Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well each time, followed by the vanilla.

  • 7

    Reduce the speed to low and add the sour cream.

  • 8

    Pour the mixture into the tin on top of the crust.

  • 9

    Bake for 50–60 minutes or until set. Cover loosely with foil if it browns too quickly. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

  • 10

    For the topping, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stirring continuously, heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves.

  • 11

    Remove from the heat, then pour the mixture over the cheesecake.

  • 12

    Let the praline cool to room temperature before chilling until ready to serve.

Jiggle it: David’s baked cheesecake tips

  • Make sure the fats are light and fluffy before you add the eggs.
  • Don’t freak out about any cracks that appear during baking. All being well, they will seal back up.
  • The cheesecake is done when the jiggle is right. It should jiggle as one piece, not be sloshing beneath the surface.
  • If you like, you can add whole pecan halves to the topping mixture before you pour it. You may need to nudge the nuts a little to get them into place.
Outsider Tart, 83 Chiswick High Road, London W4 2EF (020 7096 1609; www.outsidertart.com). Baked in America (£16.99, Ebury).

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