I’ve always been a big cheesecake fan. They were a common request for my childhood birthday parties. I’ve been told by my parents that whenever we drove past an outlet of The Cheesecake Shop I’d announce, “That’s my favourite shop!”
My favourite cheesecake was the New York version, with its decadent cream-cheese filling and buttery biscuit crust. But I’ve only recently found out about a burnt version, sans-crust, originating in San Sebastian – a city in Basque Country, Spain. Basque cheesecake, where have you been all my life?
While other baked cheesecakes – including the New York version – are cooked at a low temperature to prevent cracking and create an even texture, Basque cheesecakes are cooked on high. This gives the cake its signature burnt look, and adds a bitter, caramel flavour to the edges while keeping the inside soft and creamy.
Every other cheesecake I’ve eaten in my life pales in comparison to the glorious woodfired Basque cheesecake from the (now finished) Agnes pop-up bakery. The first time I visited, I waited in line for over an hour. When I finally made it to the counter, I ordered one of just about everything. It was all terrific and completely worth the wait, but it was the cheesecake that took out top honours.
Every time I returned, I waited nervously in line, hoping the cake wouldn’t sell out before I got to the front. My heart would beat faster whenever one of the aproned staff stepped onto the street to announce what had run out. Once I spotted one of those cheesecakes, it was pure relief.
Enclosed in baking paper and neatly tied with kitchen string, these mini cheesecakes only last a couple of bites. That’s all you need though – any bigger and you’d almost have to consider sharing. Almost.
And like most things, the wood fire makes it even better – adding a slight smokiness to the cake and intensifying the cream-cheese flavour. And when you dig your spoon in, you find a thick custard consistency in the centre. The effect is more textural and cheesy than sweet.
When the pop-up finished and Agnes finally opened, I thought I’d never see that cheesecake again. Thankfully, it made it onto the restaurant’s dessert menu. The only problem? At the time of publishing, you have to book three months in advance for a table.
My tip: the downstairs wine bar serves the cheesecake too, and being walk-in only, it’s pretty easy to nab a seat (especially mid-week). I know I’m going to regret telling you that.
“I Can’t Stop Thinking About” is a series about dishes Broadsheet Brisbane writers are obsessed with.