Ban-Almond Double Crunch Cheesecake With Tropical Fruits

I baked it EVERY weekend until my family cried out for the relief of a chocolate cake!

Natalie says…

Up until the age of 18, my fruit-eating preferences were slimmer than a leaf of gelatine. The only fruits that made it past the strict gates of my unadventurous palate were underripe pears, Granny Smith apples and bananas. It followed that fruit desserts should be based on these slim pickings too.

In 1992 I ate a slice of banana cheesecake that was created by the Australian pastry chef queen, Lorraine Godsmark. Lorraine was the creator and baker of the ICONIQUE date and mascarpone tart at Rockpool, and I loved EVERYTHING her hands made and mind conceived of throughout her career. Her caramel cheesecake was my 30th birthday cake. Her strawberry, coconut and mascarpone dacquoise is unparalleled eating joy.

Later that same year, I got my first apprentice chef job in the place that served that cheesecake. Goals! I ate offcuts of the cheesecake in lieu of a nourishing staff meal. My sweet tooth has always been titanium strong. Lorraine beyond kindly gifted me her recipe back then. She gave it to ME. Just a kid in the kitchen. For this reason, every time I bake this, I think about Lorraine’s professional generosity – a recipe handed down outside of a family. A recipe that was written so I could make it so successfully in my family’s basic suburban kitchen that I baked it EVERY weekend until my family cried out for the relief of a chocolate cake!

And it is the reason I love to share recipes today. A recipe becomes most powerful the moment it is shared with others.

This is an edited extract from Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull.


Ban-Almond Double Crunch Cheesecake With Tropical Fruits


Serves 10–12

Cooking oil spray

Toasted Almond Crumb

80g raw almonds, skin on
100g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
80g light brown sugar
120g plain flour
2g fine sea salt

Cheesecake Filling*

300g ripe banana (approx 2–3 large), roughly torn
120g caster sugar
20ml lemon juice
1g fine sea salt
500g full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
200g egg (approx 4 eggs)
50g crème fraîche
1 tonka bean

Tropical Fruit Topping

2 limes
40g caster sugar
tropical fruits: passionfruit, pineapple, mango


Preheat the oven to 140°C. Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper.

Start the crumb base by chopping the almonds finely. Melt the butter, then combine with the almonds and the remaining crumb ingredients in a wide mixing bowl. Mix together with your hands to form very damp clumps.

Scatter the mix onto the tray and bake for 15 minutes. Take the tray out and, using a metal spoon, stir and break up the mix to help the crumb brown evenly. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, then cool.

Reduce the oven to 130°C. Start the cheesecake mix by putting the banana, sugar, lemon juice and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Whiz to a smooth liquid. Add the softened cream cheese, breaking it into chunks as you add it. The goal is silky smooth, so stop the processor and scrape a few times or break up large chunks that aren’t processing. Weigh the egg and crème fraîche and finely grate the tonka bean on top. Add this in one addition and process until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous mix. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Clean the food processor bowl.

When the crumb has cooled, whiz in a food processor to a coarse damp sand consistency.

Lightly spray a 20cm × 7.5cm round deep cake tin with cooking oil and line the base and side with baking paper. Set up a high-sided roasting tin for the water bath and place a piece of paper towel in the base to stop the cheesecake tin slipping.

Fill the base of the cake tin with half the crumb, packed lightly. Pour the filling into the prepared cake tin, then place the cake tin in the roasting tin. Gently scatter the remaining crumb evenly over the top. Smooth with an offset spatula.

Pour enough hot tap water into the roasting tin to just reach the first joint on your index finger.

Carefully lift the roasting tray into the oven. Bake for 60–70 minutes until the cheesecake, when jiggled, barely wobbles. The internal temperature will be 70°C.

When ready, turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for 30 minutes before removing the cheesecake. Leave to cool. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight until set.

The next day, juice the limes and simmer to a syrup with the caster sugar. Cut the tropical fruits into thin slices and lay on a plate. Cool the lime syrup, then pour it over the fruit. Set aside.

Immerse the cake tin in a shallow roasting tray of hot water for 20 seconds to warm the butter in the crust and loosen the cheesecake from the tin. Place a flat plate or board on top of the cake in its tin. Flip over confidently and place the plate on the work surface. Peel the paper off the crumb crust and re-invert.

Decorate the top with pretty and relaxedly strewn peeled slices of tropical fruits. Serve chilled.

*I have since misplaced the original recipe, so the filling is the closest rendering and I have made some changes. The OG had gingernuts in the base and a sour cream topping. I like the double crunch!

Published in ed#706