After you turn 30 hangovers are truly brutal. Today’s was made up of all kinds of the cruelest symptoms: shakiness, insomnia, shame induced cringing, a sort of energetic kind of guilt and the taste of how I imagine the floor of a seedy bar to taste in my mouth.
My face is an ashtray.
I usually try to stay as far as possible from my kitchen on these days because there is the risk that I might choose to pop my head, and not the cake, inside the oven. I braved it this morning, only because I became convinced that this cake was about all that could cure me of all the horrors threatening to consume my day. It is light, easy on the stomach, and delicious enough to have brought me back from the brink of insurmountable despair: re- hydration for the soul.
After just one measly slice I , in body-jolting attack of post-kareoke-stress-disorder (complete with cold sweats and terrifying flashbacks) , dropped the cake onto the counter and completely demolished it and any chance I had of surviving the afternoon.
I used Martha Stewart’s easy Ricotta cheesecake recipe (there were other contenders but they involved more work and more fat- two things that do not pair well with this kind of fragility). I doubled up the orange zest to help balance out the seedy-bar. Here is Martha’s recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/354099/ricotta-cheesecake
I then poached some pears using two crushed cardamom pods, some orange zest, a generous grab of saffron, sugar, water and a splash of ginger beer that I had lying around.
Here is a recipe for something like what I did but uses Stevia and not sugar.
Before arranging the sliced layers on top of the cheesecake, I sprinkled some sugar (and a pinch of ground cardamom) over the cake and put it under the grill to caramelise and turn hard. This was to seal the cake and prevent the gorgeous pear juices from seeping into the cheesecake and causing sogginess (I take the prevention of sogginess to be one of the great purposes of my life). The scheme worked, and also added a little bit of crisp that brought things to life.