Rachel Allen’s baked cheesecake combines spiced poached pears with a light cream cheese topping and a crunchy ginger nut base.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter the sides and base of a 23cm diameter spring-form cake tin with 6cm sides, making sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
For the poached pears: place the sugar and spices in a saucepan with 200ml of water and set over a medium heat.
Heat the syrup, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add the pears and cover with a disc of baking parchment.
Simmer for 10 minutes or until the pears have softened, then remove from the syrup and place on a plate to cool. Reserve the poaching syrup.
For the biscuit base: place the biscuits and spices in a food processor and whiz for a few minutes or until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter and whiz again just until mixed. Alternatively, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then tip into the pan with the melted butter, add the spices and mix together to combine.
Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin, spreading it out evenly to cover the bottom of the tin and pressing it down firmly.
For the cheesecake topping. Pour the pear-poaching syrup into a bowl, using a sieve to catch the whole spices – which you can keep for decorating the cheesecake later.
Add the cream cheese, sugar and eggs and whisk together until well mixed and smooth.
Arrange the pears in a single layer on the biscuit base, then pour over the cream-cheese mixture. Bake for about 40–45 minutes or just until golden on top – it will be slightly cracked on top and should wobble a little in the middle when you gently shake the tin.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin, then place in the fridge and leave to set for 2 hours.
To serve, loosen around the edges using a small, sharp knife and then unclip and remove the sides of the tin. Use a palette knife or metal fish slice to loosen the bottom of the cake from the base and, with the help of the palette knife or fish slice, carefully ease the cake onto a plate.
If you like, you can place the reserved whole spices on top of the cheesecake to serve.