mardi 17 mars 2009

Magnum cheesecake

"I choose the rooms that I live in with care/ The windows are small and the rooms almost bare/ And there's only one bed and there's only one prayer." Whenever I hear Leonard Cohen singing about his surroundings, I somehow feel guilty because I know that I'm just too messy for this kind of minimalism. The opening of photographer Robert Capa's wonderful book about his experiences in World War two, Slightly Out of Focus, starts with a similar description of a room devoid of furniture where he was only woken up by the light and had no reason for getting up in the morning. Capa was one of the founders of Magnum, a cooperative agency established by photographers so they could have complete editorial control of their own work. Perhaps today Magnum is synonymous instead with the big ice cream on a stick but for me, it always makes me think of the wonderful images of Cartier Bresson, Capa, Riboud amoung others. After our walk on Lake Starnberg, J. and I visited a small exhibition in Munich with pictures by Magnum's founders. Perhaps the defining image is that by Werner Bischof of a small boy walking on the road in Peru. J. asked me why I find it so good and I'm not exactly sure to be honest. Maybe it's because he's so lost in thought and absorbed by his music. There's a certain dynamism and movement despite the heavy load he's carrying. At the exhibition they were also showing a wonderful BBC film from 1989 about Magnum and its influence. There's no doubt that Magnum changed photographic journalism but it's somehow sad that such a world no longer exists. The photographer with his rolls of film and darkrooms is well and truly a thing of the past and it's hard to imagine having photo scoops in days or weeks instead of a matter of hours. Despite the brutal times it's set in, Capa's book made me long for a lost world where it was still possible to wrangle an exit visa as a political alien, when London was full of men who wore hats and girls danced the rumba and you could live in cheap, grimy hotels in Paris.
Afterwards, we headed home for tea and a piece of cheesecake which I had made the day before. I'm not sure if it's a true Berlin cheesecake but it was delicious and so welcome to come back to. Feel free to use a biscuit base if you prefer; the advantage of the one I used it that you don't need to chill it in the fridge beforehand.


Half cube of fresh yeast
Warm water from the tap
Good amount of white flour


500g quark (40% fat) or use philadelphia if you can't get it
100g sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
5 eggs
Handful of raisons

1. For the base, mix the flour with the yeast and gently add the warm water. Add more flour until the dough becomes drier then follow with a little oil. Repeat the following steps with the flour and oil until you have a decent sized ball of dough (but don't worry if it's not very large as it will rise.)
2. Place the bowl with the dough on a radiator or in a warm place and cover with a tea towel. Leave for at least 30 mins.
3. To make the filling, begin by mixing the quark and sugar together
4. Add the eggs one at time until smooth, followed by the lemon juice, grated zest and raisons.
5. When the dough has risen, roll it out on a floured surface until it's large enough to cover your greased Springform tin.
6. Pour the mixture onto the base and place in the oven at 160°C for about an hour.
7. When it's ready, leave for at least 20 mins in the tin then cool. Chill in fridge until just before you're ready to serve it.

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