Baked Plain Cheesecake—Prototype 8:
Okay, the time had finally come to really shake things up. The flour—which was white whole wheat at this point—as well as the skim milk and arrowroot, would be outright omitted. Because this was largely a trial-and-error effort for the batter here, I held off the usual inclusion of the crust.
Repeat Prototype 7's batter only (omit the crust), but make these changes:
Fully exclude the flour, milk and arrowroot. Use only nonfat yogurt cheese at this point, and (out of simplification here) cut it by 4 ounces, to 16. More specifically, start with 32 ounces of nonfat yogurt, and strain it for at least 24 hours. If less than 16 ounces remains, add back enough of the whey strained out to make up the difference.

The resulting new ingredient list for the batter follows:
2 tablespoons melted or softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 oz. nonfat yogurt cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Bake in a tub at 300 degrees for 90 minutes, cool in oven (and still in tub as well, of course) with heat shut off and door slightly ajar for another 60 minutes, then cool outside of oven (and tub) for 60 more minutes before refrigerating.
I initially was going to bake this one for a much shorter time, starting at (from what I could best remember) about 50 minutes. However, I noticed that the top of the cheesecake looked too runny, so I kept adding time in perhaps 10-minute increments. Finally, with the top still appearing unstable after 90 minutes, I shut the oven off but left the cheesecake in the oven for another hour.

After another hour of cooldown at room temperature, I proceeded to remove this prototype from its bottom. Although the cheesecake was now hopefully firm enough to hold its shape, it still had a tendency to easily fall apart. Its height was also very low. While this now thin cheesecake was extremely fragile, its taste was a different story—a much different story!

If using a tub revolutionized my cheesecake making, the elimination of flour—which I had been using in nearly all my cheesecakes up to this point—has turned my cheesecake prototyping upside-down. That annoying "ho-hum" tinge was gone!!

At last this cheesecake tasted like a terrific, fattening, commercial gourmet one. I was blown away, and so was Lesa's friend Steve, who raved about this cheesecake as (if I could remember correctly) the best (or one of the best) desserts that I brought to him. He gladly made mention of a lemon presence, even though I added no lemon juice or flavoring. I cited the tartness of the yogurt as the likely cause.

While I also left out the milk and arrowroot in this recipe, I strongly felt that it was mainly the flour's omission that made this awesome difference (and Karen at the Beverly ICC, one of the people present at Steve's 60th birthday party—see
Baked Cookies+Creme Cheesecake—Prototype 5, for more info—strongly suggested cutting it down).

So now I had a truly terrific-tasting batter for a cheesecake. But it was too soft. How could I make it more firm? That was the next challenge.

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