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Northamptonshire Cheesecake

Pies and Pastries
(Or, Towcester Cheesecake)

Pastry base filled with mixture of curd cheese with sugar, egg, almonds and sweet spices, baked, associated with Oliver Adams bakery in Towcester

Our corespondent Katherine Leatherland reports (2016) that; "According to our family history, it was my Great uncle, a Mr Francis (?) Marston, baker in Kislingbury, Northampton, who invented these. when he retired, he sold the receipe to one of the bakers in Northampton town centre ( they had a shop on Giles street, but this has been taken over by Oliver Adams)". John Mortimer tells us (Jan 2019) "I used to work part time at Oliver Adams in Mercerís Row Northampton the 1970ís and they made the cheesecakes and they were one of my favourites. However the cases were made with puff pastry not shortcrust."... which sounds very typical of old-style puff-base tarts, like modern Bakewell Pudding

'Towcester Cheesecake' seems to be an alternative name, described in 2010 by Cate Casey of the Dolphin cafe in Towcester; "The Towcester Cheesecake is based on a traditional Yorkshire curd tart recipe and has been produced in Towcester since before the war. The Oliver Adams recipe came with the bakery business (which is where the Pickled Pig now stands) run by Mr Ward, that was purchased by Percy Adams in 1949 and Oliver Adams have continued to produce these popular tarts to the original recipe."

'The Dialect and Folk-lore of Northamptonshire' by Thomas Sternberg (1851) has;
SHEEP SHEARING The operations of sheep shearing, like those of harvest and seed time, were formerly wound up by a feast at which furmety and cheesecake formed the principal delicacies. The meal is still sometimes given, but the modern usage presents but a shadowy resemblance to the ancient festivity and has in many cases degenerated into a large seed cake which it is customary to send to the field, where it is eaten by the workmen on the scene of their labours.

The original source of this receipt isn't known. Can you help? editor@foodsofengland.co.uk

Northamptonshire Cheesecakes

1/2 lb ounces shortcrust pastry
6 oz curds or cream cheese
2 oz butter
2 eggs
3 oz caster sugar
4 oz currants
1 finely grated lemon, rind of
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, for dusting

Roll out the pastry use to line 14 to 16 lightly greased patty tins. Set oven to 350ļF or mark 4.
Beat the curd or cheese until smooth.
Put the butter, eggs and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring , until thickened, but do not allow to boil!
Remove from the heat and stir in the curd or cheese, then add the currants, lemon rind and almond essence.
Combine well and fill the tins.
Sprinkle a little nutmeg over each and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and golden.
Serve hot or cold.

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