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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Quarantine boredom leads to a ‘friendly’ competition


During quarantine, many people have started to try out new hobbies out of boredom, and we are no different. 

But unlike most, baking never caught on for either of us during these 9 long months…. until now.  Taking inspiration from a YouTube video, we decided to start a baking competition to see who could make the better Japanese cheesecake.


Mina whips up a masterpiece on the second try

As a slightly more experienced chef than Martin (and less of a nervous wreck), I was determined to win the competition for the softest and most jiggly Japanese cheesecake. After watching the video a couple times, I gathered my ingredients and made the batter. 

Beating the egg whites into a light, meringue-like texture and folding it into the cake mix was probably the most tiring part of the process. I also realized that the mixing bowl I used was too small, so I had to be very careful not to spill the batter everywhere.

Everything went smoothly until I took the cheesecake out of the oven. Unlike the full and fluffy cakes on the internet, mine  had deflated slightly, and the top was sunken. While the taste and texture was still amazing, the visuals just weren't there. 

Disappointed with the result, I did some research: I discovered that because of the sudden temperature change, the cake deflated. 

Annoyed, I got started on cheesecake number two and made sure to prop the oven open for it to cool first.

This time, the cake barely deflated, and I was pretty happy with the result. 

Determined to beat Martin in the visual factor, I plated the cheesecake with a sprig of mint and some blueberries. 


Martin overcomes cake anxiety 

When I heard I would have to bake an entire cake from scratch, I’m not going to lie — I was pretty intimidated. 

Being the nervous wreck that I am, I took the longest on the preparation. After streaming the tutorial video on YouTube countless times and double, triple and even quadruple-checking my preparation work, I finally got started making the cake. 

It was no easy task: I remembered watching how to create a mixture with the egg yolk and egg whites and then fold them together to create the cake batter but couldn’t remember how to actually execute the process. I rewatched the video yet again and finally got started.

With my mixture finally ready, I started the most fun part: mixing the cake batter with an electric mixer. There are few things more satisfying than watching all of your ingredients come together to form beautiful cake batter.

After the makeshift 15-minute arm workout (even with an automatic mixer), I dumped all my batter into a 7-inch cake pan and threw it into the oven for an hour and 20 minutes. Of course, I also broiled it for 3 minutes to add browning to the top for aesthetic purposes. 

The result was, well, not horrible. The composition of the cake was there — it was fluffy, and the elasticity was on point. But my batter was relatively wet, and after chilling it in the refrigerator, the spongy texture slowly went away. Still, my cake tasted amazing: sweet with a lovely cream cheese flavor.


The winner is . . .

We both concluded Mina’s cake was superior since she made two cakes and learned from her mistakes. Her addition of blueberries and mint leaves to create a more visually appealing cheesecake added crucial style points, too. 

We both had fun making the cheesecake. Although it was tiring and the clean-up was painful, we would definitely do it again for a delicious product. 


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