My Uphill Battle, Pt. 1: Cheesecake

I lost a lot of weight last year. When I tell people how much I lost, they usually respond by asking how I could possibly shed so much mass in the space of 14 months. The real question, though, is how I managed to put it on in the first place, since at my lightest point last fall I was still a good 20 pounds above my weight in high school. Doing the math, this means I somehow managed to add an additional 50% to my body mass in about 15 years, which is kind of embarrassing… especially since I haven’t added an inch to my height since I was in middle school.

I’ve actually gained back some of that weight over the past six months, because they’ve been a really difficult and trying six months that have left me little time for taking care of myself. Now, though, I’m back on the exercise treadmill (or rather, elliptical), and everything is getting back into order, but there’s this new complication to deal with — namely, this site. Cat and I launched BakeSpite because we like good food and the process of creating it, which is of course completely contrary to my ambition of hitting and maintaining a target weight through the strategic application of caloric deficit. And Cat has been on a wild baking kick lately. And she’s getting really good at it. Meanwhile, I’m trying to sweat myself down slim enough that I can fit into a certain tuxedo for New Year’s Eve (it’s a 1911 vintage creation, so I want to celebrate its centennial birthday in style).

This is known as “working at cross purposes.” Let me share some of my pain and misfortune with you.

Photo: Jeremy

This here is the cake Cat’s cousin Nancy baked me for my birthday last month. As you might be able to gather from the photo, it’s a cheesecake, which is far more fattening than the normal, boring kind of cake. On top of that, it’s a chocolate cheesecake. And to make matters worse, we didn’t really have the correct tools for making it, so its density was nearly that of a neutron star, i.e. one teaspoon of the cake containing roughly the same mass as that of the planet Earth. Though I doubt most neutron stars are quite so tasty.

We also added some cherry pie filling as a topping, just to make sure that each slice contained our USRDA of calories. Most of the weight I’ve gained back was accumulated in March, incidentally. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Photo: Jeremy

And here is Cat’s cheesecake, baked last week. Ostensibly, I think it was meant as a test of the new kitchen gear we bought with some gift certificates we were given as an engagement gift. Mostly, though, Cat just really loves cheesecake.

Mercifully, this cake was much lighter than the last thanks to our new mixer and springform pans. Something I’ve learned recently is that the quality of the cookware you use makes more of a difference to the final product than I ever realized. Meanwhile, Cat is learning that baking is more of a science than an art, and that (unlike with other forms of cooking) you have to master the basic form of a recipe before you can begin improvising. All that mysterious chemistry, with the yeast and the bicarbonate of soda and the crying and the collapsing, oy.

There are many different kinds of cheesecake in the world: The gross Sara Lee-style frozen cheesecakes that are more like a pudding than anything else rank at the very, very bottom. On the other hand, the ultra-deadly Cheesecake Factory style cakes, which are extremely smooth and contain two days’ worth of fat calories per slice, are a little too decadent and feel like too much even if you share a slice with a few people.

But this cheesecake was perfect, falling somewhere between the two extremes. I think Cat used a recipe very similar to the one my mother uses, as the flavors were extremely similar. The difference with this one is that the texture was light and airy — not quite as silky smooth as a high-end cheesecake, but also not as likely to sit like a dense rock at the bottom of your belly for a few days. And the crust was super-buttery, which was probably unnecessary but nevertheless welcome.

We also added cherry pie filling on top. After all… why not?

As you can see, this is a terrible, terrible fate I face: A sisyphean mission to lose weight while being plied with delicious desserts by the woman I love. I’ll be sure to post my travails and sorrows in great detail. Because I do so love writing about good food.

5 thoughts on “My Uphill Battle, Pt. 1: Cheesecake

  1. Jeremy forgets to mention that the second cheesecake survived near disaster when there was an awful grease smoke storm amidst the crust baking. Surprisingly, the smoke added a nice well, smoky flavor to the Nilla wafer crust!

  2. I am all too familiar with this sort of uphill battle. Trying to avoid using my love of trying new things to make that which would be unhealthy in larger doses.

    Well… hopefully rice bran pickling won’t be. I could always grow something poisonous in the nukadoko by mistake.

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