Last week we were treated to a wonderful talk on bees and beekeeping at our WI meeting. I learnt basic bee stuff in Biology back in the day but I don’t remember them being this fascinating. They are like little machines, programmed to do their own special job within their ecosystem. If something breaks down in the chain then they intuitively follow through with a back-up plan, for instance if the queen dies then they just automatically make another by feeding one of the cells solely with royal jelly rather than honey and pollen. Nature really has it in for the honey bee though and they are constantly under threat by all sorts of diseases and mite infestations.
After the talk we were encouraged to try a selection of local honey. In the past I have never been the greatest honey monster, it always just seemed like sweet goop. However, this honey isn’t like your Sainsburys Basic brand, surprise surpise. Instead it is so florally fragrant, you can almost see the wildflowers dancing about in the breeze and the pots of honey from two different producers had completely different tastes. The joy of good ingredients is that they can speak directly to you and after my second taste of the honey I immediately imagined this delicate cheesecake sweetened only by the honey bouquet.
London honey is considered a particular delicacy would you believe due to the utter variety of flowers that the bees have access to. It’s not cheap as the batches are made by independent beekeepers, but see if you can pick some local honey at a farmers market as it is worth it and you will be supporting your neighbourhood honey bee. This honey should not be relegated to merely toast or crumpets, although almost certainly would pep up breakfast time no end, but use it in delicate dressings on your salad leaves, drizzled on top of a light vanilla ice cream or do what I’ve done below and create a bit of an event out of it.
If you don’t have a food processor, then you can easily prepare the digestive base by hand by placing the biscuits in a plastic food bag, tying the end off so the crumbs don’t escape and giving them a good bash with something heavy, like a rolling pin. It’s really very satisfying.
This cheesecake would be perfect at the end of a meal in lieu of a cheese course, it’s not entirely sweet or savoury but steals pleasurably from both camps.
Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake
Serves around 8 people
75g unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
375g soft goats cheese
150ml british wildflower honey
150g sour cream or crème fraiche
1 tsp thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
Extra honey to drizzle
- In a food processor whizz up the digestive biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs and then pour in the melted butter until completely combined.
- Press into an 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin and place in the fridge for 15 mins. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
- Then place the digestive base in the oven to bake for 15 mins.
- While it’s baking, beat the goats cheese and the honey in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add the crème fraiche and beat again until smooth.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time.
- Add the thyme leaves, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and stir in until everything is well incorporated.
- Pour the batter on top of the biscuit base and bake for 40 mins until the top has set but still has a little wobble in the centre.
- Remove from the oven and leave to come to room temperature in the tin. Then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for at least 4 hours.
- Remove from the tin and drizzle with honey before serving.