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I am having the most marvelous time in Sydney! The weather has been absolutely perfect and Sydney with a little sun, ahh! nothing could show off it’s attributes better.

I love the way Sydney people accept that coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants don’t have to be clinically clean. The fit outs can be a bit more unusual than in Brisbane. A bit more real. One such establishment is Iggy’s at Bronte. An amazing bakery with all the workings on show behind one counter top. The flour is stacked up next to the counter, the bakers are there working right in front of you.

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The front window has their mission statement written on it and an interesting curtain. The staff are so friendly and genuinely happy and the bread is out of this world.

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Some of the loaves are so big you are able to order half or quarter of a loaf. You must visit next time you are around Bronte. Stop in next door for lunch too at Three Blue Ducks. I have written about going there before and discovering popped black rice.

Another place I visited which is completely opposite to Iggy’s is Pasticceria Papa, now when you walk into this establishment you feel like you have gone to Italy for a treat. Marble or fake marble table tops and shiny tiles, and a huge range of Italian cakes. I have often found that it’s the cake that looks quite plain that is the most delicious one. I ordered a slice of Italian baked ricotta cheesecake, oh Mamma Mia! Delicious and moist  with a hint of cinnamon, I knew I was going to go home and bake this one.

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Recipe

Ingredients

Filling

One pear peeled and cut into pieces.

400g fresh ricotta, crumbled

250g cream cheese, chopped, softened

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg

2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Pastry

3 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup caster sugar

200g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped

1 egg 

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This is what the pastry looks like before adding the egg and then after (below).

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Method

Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced.

Prepare a springform 20cm cake tin with baking paper at the bottom and grease the sides.

To make the pastry place flour, sugar and butter in a food processor or crumble it by hand as I did. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg. Process until mixture just comes together. Remove the dough. Wrap in baking paper. Refrigerate for 30 mins. Later Roll dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm-thick.  Remove top layer of baking paper. Carefully place baking paper, dough-side down into pan. Peel off baking paper. Press dough into pan and around the sides. Refrigerate.

If this gets all too hard you don’t have to make the pastry so perfect, as long as it covers the base and the sides it will bake to perfection. I often patch pieces together as I line the tin.

Using an electric mixer, beat ricotta, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Add egg. Beat until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.  Then place a piece of the peeled pear on top of the mixture.

Roll remaining dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm-thick. Remove top layer of baking paper. Carefully place baking paper, dough-side down onto filling in pan. Peel off baking paper. Trim dough and press edges together to seal. Place cake in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Turn off oven. Cool cheesecake in oven for 4 hours with door ajar. Refrigerate overnight. Carefully run a knife around cheesecake to help release from pan. Dust cheesecake with icing sugar.

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