A Cheesecake for a Greek Wedding – the making of

Those of you that have been following my cheesecake experiments will be well aware of my wonderful friends wedding that took place on the stunning Greek island Skopelos in May and how I took it upon myself to devise a banoffee pie inspired cheesecake for their wedding day. 

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The recipe its self was only perfected the week before I left for Greece, how I was going to make it on a greek island I had never been to before was still unknown. I wasn’t sure what ingredients I could get there, so to be on the safe side I packed digestive biscuits, a tin of caramel, the chocolate and rather dodgy looking small bag of cornflour, which no one asked me about much to my surpris! As it turns out you can get digestives there for a whole 3.30€! All that left me to find was: cream cheese, sugar, bananas, butter and greek yoghurt. 

We stayed in a small village called Trulos on Skiathos island before getting the ferry to Skopelos on the sunday before the wedding. After visiting all of the tiny shops in Trulos we found cream cheese in a little one by the beach. The lady must have thought we were mad when we spoted it and ‘hurrah’d’. I wish I had thought to take a photo! We bought it all, it was just enough for the top layer and thus we embarked on our 11km walk to Skiathos town in search of the Carrefour I was sure I had seen on the coach from the airport. We denied all taxis and chose not to  wait for the bus. It was a beautiful walk along the coast of the island, the weather was gorgeous and we were cool from jumping in the sea. We found the supermarket and the cream cheese, well, we found all the cheese! That evening we gorged on a selection of fetas (who knew there were so many?!) with olives and olive oil bread. Seeing as it was saturday and we weren’t sure if shops opened on sunday, we bought the rest of the ingredients too and set off to explore the town with well over a kilo of cheese banging around in our bags. 

Challenge number one: the ingredients – complete! 

The oven has been a bit of a worry. When I booked our accommodation in Skopelos, I e-mailed our host asking if the apartment had an oven or if it was microwave – I was unable to tell from the photos. She replied saying ‘yes, yes! Microwave-Oven’! Well, that didn’t clear it up too much, but I decided to hope for the best. I arrived on the island to discover that not only was the microwave-oven in our apartment indeed an simple electric oven, but also that half the other wedding guests had apartments with ovens or hosts with neighbours who had ovens which I could use! The greeks take hospitality to a whole new level, it was truely heart warming. Our host at Liofoto Studios – highly recommended if you ever visit Skopelos – even provided me with a mixing bowl, and had I asked for more equipment, I’m sure she would have been more than accommodation. I also packed my cake tins and scales with me though, so I was all set! 

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Mixing the mountain of creamcheese

Mixing the mountain of cream cheese

In the tiny oven!

In the tiny oven!

Challenge number two: the oven – complete!

The trick with baked cheesecake is leaving them to cool in the oven. The trouble with that is you can’t make one after the other. It worked out though because I made the first shortly after arriving, as soon as the oven was off we jumped on our bikes and cycled to the beach where we spent the afternoon. Then I made the second and we went out for dinner while that one cooled in the oven. I left all the decoration and assembling to the next morning, the day of the wedding. Perhaps not ideal, but there were no disasters. Luckily! 

Challenge number three: evenly baked cheesecake – complete!

I woke up bright and early to finish off the cheesecake, much to my relief, they came out of the tins no problem. The small one went on a chopping board, the big one was too big for a plate though! It ended up going straight onto the glass fridge shelf, I did wash it first and used a bit of greaseproof paper. But this raised the question of what to serve the cake on! After a trip to the super market with no luck and much hand language, my lovely host bailed me out by lending me a tray! 

Challenge number four: serving plate disaster averted and complete!  

Cheese parts safely in the fridge, I made the bases which I then covered in the caramel. The caramel took ages to set because it was so warm! But with a bit of freezer encouragement we got there in the end. I used quite big pieces of banana which gave this cheesecake a little more height than the others. Just be careful to cut them evenly and so they stand up straight and level. Then came the scary part: getting the cheesecake onto the base. I actually flipped the bottom one in. There’s no pictures of that step because there was no way I was going to attempt to do it in front of anyone. Let alone someone with a camera. The smaller one was kind of wiggled, jiggled and eventually slid onto the base.

Holding my breath!

Gently sliding the cheesecake onto the base (which is still in the tin, covered with caramel and banana chunks)

Gently sliding the cheesecake onto the base (which is still in the tin, covered in a layer of caramel and then banana)

Holding my breath! This is the moment it could all fall apart – literally!

Few! Now to actually get it in the tin!

Few! Now to actually get it in the tin!

Trying to get it as level as possible - this tin has a removable base which I had pushed up with the base so the cheesecake didn't have to 'fall' to the bottom in order to make contact

Trying to get it as level as possible – this tin has a removable base which I had pushed up with the base so the cheesecake didn’t have to ‘fall’ to the bottom in order to make contact

Then it was a matter of getting them out of the trays. The base on these cheesecakes are pretty sturdy so they are actually ok to move around. I definitely recommend a spring form tin, the smaller cheesecake was in a push out bottom tin and I nearly flipped the whole thing! That would have been unbelievably bad. I used some short dowel rods in the bottom layer and popped the top on. No problem! 

Look at that banana! And no caramel spillage! Yes!

Look at that banana! And no caramel spillage! Yes!

Challenge number five: assembling the cheesecakes – complete!

There was a lot of planning in this whole escapade, I wanted to limit my stress levels as much as possible so I had pre-cut and sketched the stripes of greaseproof paper for the decorations. I melted the chocolate in mugs over water (very efficient as they are easier to get out of the boiling water than bowls are!) and pipped the design. This does take some time, a good hour maybe, I’m not sure I was pretty out of it by then! Once all the pipping is done, you have to fit them onto the cakes which isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just be careful to place everything in the right spot on the first go, you can’t move them at all because you rely on the melted chocolate too stick and cool, holding it in place. 

Melting the chocolates simultaneously in mugs over water. Note the super cute mini hob, the perfect size for the milk pan or coffee pot. The Greeks have their priorities straight!

Melting the chocolates simultaneously in mugs over water. Note the super cute mini hob, the perfect size for the milk pan or coffee pot. The Greeks have their priorities straight!

Its so important to get the chocolate in the right place, no second chances here! It sets on the cheesecake, moving it would result in a smear.

Its so important to get the chocolate in the right place, no second chances here! It sets on the cheesecake, moving it would result in a smear.

Be sure the designs meet from one sheet to the next

Be sure the designs meet from one sheet to the next

run your hand gently along the paper to be sure the chocolate is touching the cheesecake evenly and smoothly

run your hand gently along the paper to be sure the chocolate is touching the cheesecake evenly and smoothly

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pray they meet....

pray they meet….

And if they don't, well, do your best to touch it up!

And if they don’t, well, do your best to touch it up!

Challenge number six: chocolate cage – complete!

As if I hadn’t had enough going on in one day, I decided to make some toppers too. I had totally forgotten about that aspect of wedding cakes! We made a spontaneous paste from icing sugar and egg white which I moulded into cats. The bride and groom love cats and so do I, it seemed like a good option 🙂 I pipped the details on with left over chocolate. I’m not madly pleased with how they came out, they got a bit mangled in the journey too – but they were certainly better than nothing! 

Speedy cat moulding, while the pineapple flowers dried off after their journey from Cornwall

Speedy cat moulding, while the pineapple flowers dried off after their journey from Cornwall

Challenge number seven: spontaneous toppers – complete!

Next came the travelling, we piled into a little Jeep with the groom and made our way at snail pace to the wedding venue, which was a gorgeous restaurant on the beach, balancing the cake on my knees. It arrived perfectly safely and we popped it in a fridge, leaving the final decorations for later.

No pictures of the cake delivery, but here's one of the view from the restaurant =)

No pictures of the cake delivery, but here’s one of the view from the restaurant =)

Challenge number eight: cake delivery – complete!

By the time we got back to the reception venue I had drunk a considerable amount of wine (totally ignored my top tips from the last wedding cake I made!) and champagne at the ceremony! It certainly made me less critical as I piled all the flowers around the cats, snapped a bad photo and called it a day. Easiest cake decorating ever! I had made the pineapple flowers in England, the day before flying, they had softened considerably but it didn’t really matter as they still held their shape. I couldn’t quite believe it was done. I bungled it back in the fridge just in time to see my lovely now married friends arriving on a little fishing boat decorated with flowers and ribbons.

attempting to reattach a lost ear, the poor cats had a rough trip

attempting to reattach a lost ear, the poor cats had a rough trip

Pile the flowers on!

Pile the flowers on!

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The cheesecake was devoured so quickly it turned out the bride and groom didn’t actually get a slice each! Only the spoonful they managed to grab before it was whisked off to the kitchen to be cut up and divid out.

   

  

 

They weren’t alone in missing out, Steff the yacht skipper didn’t try any at all. In an attempt to make up for the lack of banoffee in their lives and to thank Steff for sneaking us onto the yacht we embarked on a surprise banoffee pie plan. Armed with leftover crushed digestives, bananas and a can of squirty cream we clambered on board where we proceeded to spend the most wonderful afternoon driving and swimming around the boat before setting sail (wine in hand – uh oh) to Skiathos. Steff disappeared once we docked and we made the most of it. My beautiful friend and wedding date went in search of more digestives and bananas (the plan had escalated with the wine) while I attempted caramel with no scales, let alone a sugar thermometer. Butter, sugar and heat, what more do you need? Well, it turned into toffee. If we were to pour it onto biscuit crumbs, I don’t think we would have been able to cut it. Who am I kidding? It didn’t even pour! But it was delicious. So the bride and I set to work spooning, spreading and generally scraping it onto pieces of biscuits. We did a couple of test runs, feeding pieces to unsuspecting guests who passed through the cabin. No ones jaws were glued together. We persevered.

Behold the Banoffee Bites! Served with unmanageable lumps of toffee in the middle there.

  
As for Steff’s surprise? Well, we made a sophisticated version for him!

  
I will follow this post with another for the recipe 🙂 its too much for one!

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