A slice of baked cheesecake in today’s Sunday Times

Escape Sunday Maltese Mulberry Cheesecake credit Shine Photography by Marconia

Baked Cheesecakes, maltese mulberries [cawlsi] and more  in today’s Sunday Times.   Photo by Marcona Schembri

‘Sweet and savoury baked cheesecakes are a classic favourite and the choice of how to make them and what ingredients to add is endless. The consistency is dense and cheesecakes may even have a chalky texture in a wonderful way. Since I have lived here I prefer to use ricotta to make New York,…

Source: A slice of baked cheesecake in today’s Sunday Times

I use Ricotta by Zappala, fresh fruit by Big Fresh and flour by St Georges Brand

Baked Fig Ricotta Cheesecake (gluten free)

fig cheese cake illumina media.jpg

Baked fig cheesecake, photo Illumina Media [the tart in this photo was baked during a live tv show]

‘There are a few varieties of Maltese figs and these in my cheesecake are known as ‘bajtar ta’ San Gwann’ [St John’s Figs] and come to harvest at the end of spring and beginning of summer.  This fig does not develop the rich flavor, sweetness or vibrant colours of the other two varieties that ripen later in the summer.  The colour is greenish white and although they are delicious, they lack the sweetness to produce a dessert without the use of additional sweetener.  If you live on the island, enjoy them when you find them as the season is very short.  Summer is here.’ 


The beauty of the island from the fields of Ghajn Tuffieha.  One of the first signs that summer is really here, ripe, juicy, luscious figs ready to harvest

You will need:

For the base
120g oatcakes
2 teaspoons cold pressed coconut oil
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter

For the filing
500g fresh figs
juice of 1/2 lemon
500g ricotta
200g mascarpone
200g yoghurt
4 eggs
Stevia [the equivalent of 120g, check the conversion table on your packet]
2 tablespoons cornflour

[21 cm springform dish]

To decorate, an extra 200g of fresh figs and 4 tablespoons of warm maple syrup

Heat the oven to 200C. Melt the coconut oil on low heat and add the chocolate powder.
Use a blender to grind the biscuits and add the peanut butter. Mix all the base ingredients in and bring it to a smooth paste by using a hand blender.

Line the bottom of a springform dish with baking paper. Place the mixture in the tin and press down using a large spoon dipped in water. Place in the freezer to set.

Make the filling by mixing all the ingredients together and blending until you have a smooth paste. Pour the batter over the base of the cheesecake. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until the mixture sets. Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven until it cools down. Place in the fridge overnight preferably. Decorate with quartered fresh figs and leave the skin on. Brush with warm maple syrup just before serving.

‘Tip:leave the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven to avoid a cracked surface ‘

Bajtar ta San Gwann (Breba Maltese Figs).jpg

Bajtar ta San Gwann [Maltese Breba Figs] in season around late May/beginning of June  [Photo Illumina Media, this photo was taken during a live tv show]

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV everyday and you can follow on facebook

fig cheesecake shine

Baked Fig Cheesecake #glutenfree Photo Marconia Schembri during a live tv show

Oats by Mornflake at Rimus Group

My figs, lemons and eggs come from Big Fresh in Mosta

Baked Ricotta and Peach “Cheesecake”

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I love this new bake which we featured this week on TV. Simple and straighforward to make with a light texture, much lighter than that of a traditional baked cheesecake. This has no added processed sugar, no gluten and no butter. You will need:

250g plain biscuits, i used gluten free and sugar free

750g ricotta
125 plain yoghurt
200g stevia (check the converstion table on the jar and you will need the equivalent of 200g sugar)
few drops vanilla
grated rind of half a lemon
grated rind of half an orange
3 tablespoons cornflour
4 eggs, separated and egg whites whisked until stiff
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Fresh peaches, sliced and skin on to decorate the top
1 teaspoon warm honey and à brush to glaze the top after you take the cheesecake out of the oven

A springform cake tin of 23 cm

Pre heat the oven to 160 C.

Place the biscuits in a large bowl. Crush them lightly then use a hand blender to grind them to a fine texture. keep two spoons aside to cover the cake dish. Add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to this mixture.

In another bowl, place the ricotta, add the egg yolks, yoghurt, stevia, vanilla, citrus zest and cornflour and use the hand blender again to break down and mix to a very smooth consistency.

Prepare the cake tin by lightly brushing with some good oil and taking two spoons of crushed biscuits to coat the surface and sides.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until stiff.

Fold in the crushed biscuit mix with the ricotta mix. Do not over process.

Finally gently fold in the egg whites without over mixing,
Pour the batter into the cake tin.
Decorate the surface with sliced peaches.
Immediately place in the oven top shelf and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for 10 minutes more before removing. This prevents the surface from breaking.
Dip the brush into the warmed honey and lightly brush the surface.

Allow to cool before removing from tin.

If you would like the recipe of Peach Cheesecake in Maltese, please click here


Blueberry Cheesecake with a baked digestive base

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As seen on TV every so often a luscious treat is a necessity. My food photos during our live shows are completely unstaged and preparation and cooking is live and in real time.

For this cheesecake I baked the digestive biscuit base with a filling of of a mix of mascarpone and bufala ricotta , twice baked very lightly in a moderate oven, first pressing down the crust and baking lightly then topping the crust with the filling and baking again. I have tried other alternatives but the best flabor and texture is with butter. I have however reduced the amount used in traditional cheesecakes.

For the crust you will need

2 cups ground McVities Digestive Biscuits
1 cup ground almonds
half a cup stevia

4 tablespoons melted butter

zest of half a lemon
Mix all the above ingredients together and press into a 20cm tart dish with a loose bottom. It is important that the crumbs are completely pressed down, as compact as possible. Bake for 15 minutes at 160C. Allow to cool before adding the filling.
For the filling you will need
200g Gabani mascarpone
200g ricotta
1 cup stevia
grated rind of a lemon
2 spoons lemon juice
few drops vanilla essence
4 eggs
2 spoons cornflour
A punnet of blueberries for the surface
Mix all these ingredients together. I use a hand blender to get a smooth paste. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C. When the crust has completely cooked down, pour in the filling. Add half the punnet of blueberries. Bake for 20 minutes making sure that the crust does not burn. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the oven. This avoids a cracked surface and allows the eggs to bind the mixture leaving it soft and moist inside. Once it cools you can serve it immediately but it improves in flavor when left in the fridge overnight. Decorate with more blueberries before serving.


And every day I wake up and appreciate breathing the air here on an island blessed with all the good things life offers and sunshine nearly every day of the year .


Click here for the recipe in Maltese.
A good weekend to you my friends x

Strawberry Cheese-Cake for Brilliant Baking Magazine

In this month’s Brilliant Baking Magazine you will find my new recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake.



And on the cover Rosemary Shrager who will join me on my programme Dieta Mediterranja on 98FM which will be aired this week.


and for the recipe in Maltese click here

Gluten Free Coffee Toffee Cheesecake



This is a gluten free sweet that combines the popularity of two of the best loved American desserts with an added Mediterranean twist of fresh figs. Blums coffee toffee tart brings nostalgia to many Americans and this is combined with a layer of baked New York cheesecake, two favorites with the addition of Mediterranean figs. It is suitable for anyone who follows a gluten free diet too. On our island we have two types of figs, some are pink inside and these are the sweeter yellow ones and taste of jam.

You will need:

For the no-bake topping

5 Doves Gluten free Chocolate Biscuits, crushed
100g Doves Gluten free Chocolate Rice Crispies
100g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee
100g butter
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large fig chopped up (or substitute with the fruit of your choice)

8″ spring form cake tin


Melt the butter in the microwave, not too hot until just melted.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, one minute at a time, mix in the oil and stir. This makes it more workable and gives it a glossy finish.


Add to the crushed biscuits mixed with the rice crispies. Cut the fig and add it to the mixture.
Line the tin with cling film. Pour the mixture in and press down with a metal spoon. Refridgerate.


For the cheescake base

4 eggs
250g ricotta
200g single cream

150g cornflour
150g sugar

1 fig
Few drops vanilla
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Beat the ricotta in a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the instant coffee. Turn the speed down to low, then add the eggs keep beating until combined and there are no lumps. Add the cream and the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the cheesecake into the springform tin.

Preheat oven to 180C. Remove the springform tin lined with pastry from the refrigerator, pour the cheese mixture into the tin.

Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 35 minutes. Then let the cheesecake cool in oven. Remove from tin and transfer to refrigerator to let it set overnight.

To assemble

50 g dark chocolate
1 spoon Butterscotch based syrup
icing sugar


place the two layers of Chocolate base and Cheesecake near each other. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Brush the chocolate layer with butterscotch syrup. Brush onto bottom of the cheesecake and immediately place the chocolate top layer over it. Decorate with sliced and whole figs. Dust with some icing sugar.


Gluten free Greek honey and fig Cheesecake….. using myzithra or ricotta


I made a light cheesecake, baked custard and cake all in one, my day of trying out new recipes in the hotel. It is also gluten free as we use cornstarch instead of flour, just a fabulous recipe…. I added figs and honey this time and the tasting bit is always the best part…silky, smooth yet a cakey texture with a defined honey flavor…

This is a Greek baked cheesecake traditionally made using Mtzithra cheese but if it is not available use Ricotta.

I am told that the Greeks invented cheesecake and I have to say that this recipe is definitely a winner. We baked the mix in various ways … baked on a biscuit shell, in a cake tin and also in flan dishes. I like the ones in flat rectangular flan dishes best and I sandwiched them together with a light Greek yoghurt cream and lighted dusted it with icing sugar….

You will need :

1kg ricotta or myzithra
250g butter
200g sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
6 eggs separated
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped figs
3 tablespoons honey

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest and lenon juice
and beat in. Add the Ricotta and honey and beat in on low speed for about 5 minutes to achieve a very smooth texture. Mix in the cornstarch and pinch of salt.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.

Mix the chopped figs into the ricotta mixture, then using a metal spoon fold in the egg whites. .

pour the batter into a mould of your choice lined with baking parchment.

Bake at 180 C for 35 to 40 minutes. Leave to cool and take out of pan. Dust lightly with icing sugar ….

What’s baking? Inside an old local bakery…..







And yesterday’s newspaper

A taste of New York…. baked ricotta cheesecake !


A typical New York cheesecake is made with cream cheese and sour cream but mine today is a taste of Italian New York.

The best cheesecake I ever tasted was a ricotta baked cheesecake from Venieros in New York. This is where you can also get sugar free cookies and carb free cakes if you are watching your calories !

I remember coming back home after my visit and trying to make a similar baked ricotta cheesecake and this is now one of my favorite desserts. You can leave it plain or top it with fruit and give it a glaze. It is a good basic recipe and you can be creative and add chocolate or other flavorings and toppings. I like the slight grittiness in the texture that the ricotta gives and it has more flavor than the smooth and satiny cream cheese version.


You will need :

22cm springform cake tin

For the sour cream pastry
200g butter, cut into cubes
250g flour
125 ml sour cream, I used plain yoghurt this time and the result was great

For the cheesecake filling:
4 eggs, separated
700 g ricotta
80ml cream
200g sugar
Few drops vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon

Icing sugar, for dusting or this time I used fruit and glazed it with warm apricot jam

To make the pastry rub the butter and flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sour crea, and mix into the dough using a palette knife. Add sour cream and give it a few more pulses until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in cling film and store in the fridge 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 3mm thickness, make sure it is wide enough to cover the bottom of the tin. Drape the pastry over the tin, then gently press the pastry to sides to fill all corners, let the excess hang over the edges of the tin. Place the tin in refrigerator to let it set.

Beat the ricotta mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Turn the speed down to low, then add the egg yolks and keep beating until combined and there are no lumps.

In a clean large mixing bowl, add egg white and sugar, whisk until soft peak. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the meringue, fold gently until combined.

Preheat oven to 180C. Remove the springform tin lined with pastry from the refrigerator, pour the cheese mixture into the tin but without filling to the top, by leaving an inch from the top.

Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. Then let the cheesecake cool in oven. Remove from tin and transfer to refrigerator to let it set overnight.

Dust icing sugar or decorate with fruit and glaze with warm apricot jam.

I used the same recipe adding a spoon of cornstarch to the ingredients above with a digestive biscuit base instead of the pastry and simply dusted icing on the top.