Natalie Paull’s Ban-Almond Double Crunch Cheesecake Recipe

Ban-almond double crunch cheesecake with tropical fruits Photography credit: Rochelle EagleBan-almond double crunch cheesecake with tropical fruits Photography credit: Rochelle Eagle
Menu item
Serves 10 - 12 slices
Food processor

The Ban-Almond Double Crunch Cheesecake recipe from Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull, combines a banana-infused filling, a crunchy almond crumb with a vibrant tropical fruit topping.

Creating this cheesecake requires a bit of planning, as it’s best to start the day before to allow the baked cheesecake to chill and set overnight. Additionally, you can prepare the toasted almond crumb up to three days in advance, ensuring you have plenty of time to assemble and decorate this stunning dessert. The result is a cake that not only tastes incredible but also looks like a work of art, making it a perfect centerpiece for your next high tea.

This is an edited extract from Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull (Hardie Grant Books, RRP $50). Available in stores nationally.
Natalie Paull, Photo credit: Rochelle Eagle
Natalie Paull, Photo credit: Rochelle Eagle



Toasted almond crumb

  • 80 g (2¾ oz) raw (natural) almonds, skin on
  • 100 g (3½ oz) unsalted butter, roughly chopped
  • 80 g (2¾ oz) light brown sugar
  • 120 g (4½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 g (1/16 oz/1/4 teaspoon) fine
  • sea salt

Cheesecake filling:

  • 300 g (10½ oz) ripe banana (approx. 2–3 large), roughly torn
  • 120 g (4½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 20 g/ml (¾ oz) lemon juice
  • 1 g (⅟₃₂ oz/1/8 teaspoon) fine sea salt
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 200 g (7 oz) egg (approx. 4 eggs)
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) crème fraîche
  • 1 tonka bean*
Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull
Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull

Tropical fruit topping:

  • 2 limes
  • 40 g (1½ oz) caster (superfine sugar)
  • tropical fruits – passionfruit, pineapple, mango



Preheat the oven to 140°C (285°F). Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper.

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

Double-crust cheesecakes work best with a more buttery, moist crumb that are sturdier and prevent a too-dry, crumbly top crust.

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 (it can darken faster on the base). Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, then cool.

Reduce the oven to 130°C (265°F). While the crumb cools, start the cheesecake mix by putting the banana flesh, sugar, lemon juice and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Whiz to a smooth liquid. Sometimes a chunk of banana will refuse to break down. Don’t stress, it will yield when the cream cheese is added.

Adding the lemon juice with the banana will stop the flesh from oxidising.

Add the softened cream cheese through the feed tube, 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.

If you have a tiny processor (like me at home), process the banana/sugar with the cream cheese, then scrape the mix out into a bowl and whisk the rest of the ingredients in by hand.

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. Hand whisk or strain any obstinate lumps out at the end if needed. This mix is deliriously good – like the most extra, extra banana smoothie. 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 – a few small pea-sized almond pieces are fine to remain, and will give lovely texture.

Don’t over-process or you’ll end up with a but tery cookie paste!

Lightly spray a 20 cm (8 in) round × 7.5 cm (3 in) 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.

If you choose a tin where the base is welded to the side (or a springform tin), you will need to wrap the outside of the tin with a triple layer of extra-wide foil so water won’t breach the tin. If you use a tin made from a single piece of metal, you won’t need to do this – this is the type of tin that I prefer to use.

Fill the base of the tin with half the crumb – approximately 160 g (51/2 oz). Pack it down lightly – the weight and moisture of the cheesecake mix will do the rest of the work, and you don’t want a base you have to really crunch through when eating. Reserve the remaining crumb for the top.

Pour the filling into the prepared cake tin, then place the cake tin in the roasting tin. Gently scatter the reserved crumb evenly over the top, being careful not to make any sudden movements that could slosh the filling and crumb together. With an angel’s touch, smooth out the crumb top with an offset spatula.

Mythbuster: there is no need to re-bake the crumb base before filling. The base will hold together fine with the extra moisture from the filling.

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

The finger depth gauge works better than trying to see how far the water is
up the side of the dish, because water distorts depth perception.

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 (158°F) – it can be hard to tell with a top crust, so internal temperature is the best way to achieve cheesecake confidence.

With its crunchy top crust, I bake this cheesecake a bit further. If the cheesecake is cooking too fast or far, the filling will puff and cause the crumb to crack on top. If this happens, lower the heat and continue to bake to doneness. The puffing will subside a little upon cooling. The best thing about water-bath baking is that it is super hard to fully overcook the cheesecake.

When ready, turn the oven off and leave the door ajar for 30 minutes before removing the cheesecake. If you are using foil around the tin and you can see some water has breached the foil, lift the cheesecake tin out immediately and remove the foil so the base doesn’t become sodden, then leave to cool to room temperature. 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 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 (the base from a tart tin works well here) on top of the cake in its tin. Flip over confidently and place the plate on the work surface. Lift a side of the tin and gently tease out the baking paper. This will loosen the cheesecake and, with a wiggle and a shake and a push on the base, it should release. Peel the paper off the crumb crust and re-invert.

If the cheesecake is stubborn and won’t come out, warm the tin further by giving it a quick flash with a brûlée torch. Warming the butter in the base will help it release.

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

Eat soon after decorating, as the fruit can oxidise quickly. The un-decorated cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Don’t freeze.


Sour-cream topping:
Skip the double crust. Make half the crumb crust and press into the base. For topping, combine 250 g (9 oz) cold full-fat sour cream, 10 g (1/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar and a teeny bit of vanilla paste and gently hand whisk together. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, pour over the sour-cream topping and carefully and quickly smooth out. Return to the oven for 10 minutes to set the topping.

No-food-processor method:
If you don’t have a food processor to build the cheesecake batter, just cream the cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. When smooth, add the egg and crème fraîche Toss the banana with the lemon juice and blitz with a blender, stick blender or, as a last resort, push through a coarse sieve (it’s hard work, but do-able). Hand whisk the banana puree into the creamed base mix.


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