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Cooking with Instagram #1: German Cheesecake

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Last weekend I baked a delicious, German-style cheesecake. It turned out so good that I decided to give it another shot this weekend and document my efforts using small, 10 second Instagram videos, which should make this recipe particularly easy to follow along.

The main differences between American and German cheesecake are the cake bottom, which consists of a sweet shortcrust pastry, instead of the American Graham Cracker + butter variation and uses Quark as the main ingredient for the filling instead of cream cheese. Because Quark is a lot less dense and fat than cream cheese you get a very light and fluffy filling that I personally much prefer over the dense American variety.

Step 1: The Cake Bottom

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp/75 grams of soft butter
  • 0.4 cups/75 grams of brown sugar (I mixed in a bit of homemade vanilla sugar as well)
  • 1 egg
  • 1.6 cups/200 grams of all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder

Preparation:

Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl until you get a consistent mass, mix in the egg and sift the flour and baking powder on top.

It is crucial to not mix the mass too much in the next step. Start slowly combining the flour with the other ingredients and once the dough isn’t too wet anymore switch to kneading with your hands. Once you have a consistent mass form it into a brick, wrap it with cling film and put it in the fridge for about half an hour.

Step 2: The filling

Ingredients:

  • 1.1 cups/225 grams of white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 package (about 3 tbsp/35 grams) of vanilla pudding mix (I used Dr. Oetker)
  • 1 package of vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams of reduced fat cream cheese
  • 2 cups/500 grams of Quark
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams of reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 cup/200 ml of whipping cream

Preparation:

At this point you can start preheating your oven to 350° Fahrenheit/180° Celsius.

Mix the sugar and eggs until they get a fluffy consistency. Add the pudding mix and then one after the other, while mixing after adding each ingredient, the cream cheese, quark and sour cream.

Beat the whipping cream until stiff and carefully mix in with the other ingredients using a spatula.

Step 3: Putting it all together

Preparation:

Butter a springform pan (use a smaller one for a taller cake or a wider one for a flatter cake). I will also usually trap some parchment paper at the bottom of the form to further prevent the cake from burning or sticking to the ground.

Take the shortcrust pastry dough out of the fridge and roll it out to a circle that’s a bit larger than your baking pan. This is easiest done by trapping the dough between two layers of cling wrap, as it is very sticky.

Put the crust into your baking pan, making sure you have about a 1 inch/2.5 cm border standing up at the side.

Put your filling on top of your crust and put the cake into the oven. The cake needs to bake for 1 hour. It’s ready when the top starts to brown slightly and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

It’s important to let the cake cool down slowly, because cracks will form on its surface otherwise. I usually let it cool down in the oven for at least half an hour and then at room temperature for a few more hours before moving it into the fridge. The cake tastes best after resting in the fridge over night.

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My first self-built Hackintosh/Gaming PC

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This last weekend I fulfilled a dream I have had ever since I got my first desktop computer when I was about 14 years old. I build my own computer. From scratch. All by myself (almost).

Being able to actually open up and look into a computer, see all the moving parts, components and cables fascinated me immensely back then and still does to this day.

For the past year I have been using a 15 inch MacBook Pro (non-retina version) and while it’s a fantastic and beautiful piece of equipment, the limitations of the hardware (namely gaming performance under Windows and lack of upgradability) and the fact that my fiancee wanted to get a MacBook as well, led me to the decision to pass my trusted steed (which coincidentally had just gotten its motherboard replaced after a hardware failure) onto her.

I temporarily went back to using my old Mac Mini (using a unix-based os is a huge advantage when working in web development, so OS X is my go to operating system) and pondered my options. I considered both a MacBook Air and an iMac, but ultimately remembered that I had previously read about Hackintoshs. After some online research, I realized that it was a great option; I could choose whichever hardware I wanted (provided it was suitable for a Hackintosh build), run both OSX and Windows, build an incredibly powerful computer and do it cheaper than any option Apple provided.

So I set out to pick the hardware for my new dream computer and after some back and forth, I ended up with the following setup:

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-77X-D3H. Gigabyte boards tend to be most compatible with OS X and are easiest to setup for first time Hackintosh builders. This one delivered good bang for the buck and had enough SATA3 and USB3 ports for my needs (unlike some cheaper Gigabyte boards).
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3770. I chose the boxed, non-k version, as I’m not planning on over-clocking the processor. It will deliver plenty of raw computational power for the years to come.
  • RAM: Kingston HyperX Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) 1600 DDR3 CL9. I originally chose 2 8GB sticks from Corsair, but they weren’t in stock anymore and I ended up with these (literal) beasts from Kingston that have a better performance and ended up costing less.
  • GPU: MSI Nvidia Gefore GTX 760 Hawk 2GB. This is a slightly over-clocked version of the stock GTX 760, which also has a better (and more silent) cooler.
  • Storage: 1 x Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD. 2 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM 64MB Buffer HDD’s. I used the SSD as the OS X drive that has my essential applications and files. One of the HDDs is used for Windows, while the other one serves as a media drive under OS X. I also had an old Samsung EcoGreen 1.5TB drive sitting around that I’m using as a TimeMachine drive for Mac OS X.
  • Disc Drive: LG 24x CD/DVD Burner. I hardly ever use CDs/DVDs nowadays, but as a decent DVD burner is quite cheap, I figured I might add one.
  • PSU: Seasonic S12II-620Watts. Seasonic is known to produce quality PSUs and 620 Watts should give me plenty of power, even for future upgrades.
  • Case: Nanoxia Deep Silence Two (black). This is a truly beautiful, simplistic case that has good airflow, cable management and is noise dampened. I also bought 2 additional 120MM 1800RPM case coolers from Nanoxia.

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After ordering all the parts I had to wait a painfully long week (just ask my better half, it was probably much more painful for her) for everything to arrive. While waiting for the parts I watched this excellent video from Newegg, demonstrating the construction of a DIY computer (with some excellent tips and pointers).

After putting everything together (and recruiting my fiancee to help me with the cable management), I booted for the first time and lo and behold, I saw the bios screen. Time for celebration (and by celebration I mean moving on to installing an operating system).

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Next on my todo list was installing Mountain Lion on the computer and I followed this proven guide from tonymacx86.com. Using UniBeast and MultiBeast I got everything working fairly quickly, save for the sound which took a bit of fiddling around, but ultimately bent to my will as well.

I now had a fully functional, extremely powerful Hackintosh (that believes himself to be a late 2012 iMac).

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The final step to computer heaven was getting Windows to run and boot alongside OS X. Once again I referred to tonymac86.com, this time using this fantastic guide found in their forums. Initially I tried to install Windows 8, but after having some issues, I decided to go with Windows 7, which works flawlessly.

Then followed a weekend full of updating, installing and customizing (much to the dismay of the Mrs. Thank you for loving me anyway sweetie, I love you!).

All in all, putting this system together was a whole lot of fun and a great learning experience. I have of course already upgrade plans in mind, such as additional case fans, a better, 3rd-party processor cooler (under full load the processor gets a cozy 70° C) and WiFi/Bluetooth adapters and I’m sure I’ll keep tinkering and tweaking things, but that’s what’s so fun about it.

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To conclude this post, I will post some benchmarks I have taken under Mac OS X and Windows.

Geekbench Mac OS X

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Geekbench Windows

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Unigine Mac OS X

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Unigine Windows

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3D Mark Windows

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John Gruber on Chromecast (and why he is wrong)

I have been following the Daring Fireball RSS Feed for a while now and I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it.

Mr. Gruber often has great insights and is clearly a bright mind. I also love his taste in design and typography, but his posts are often painfully biased towards Apple.

This is one such case.

Chromecast catches

Chromecast only streams video from the web; it has nothing like AirPlay. You can’t send video from your phone to Chromecast.

Other than price, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t just buy an Apple TV instead. And even price-wise, it’s not like Apple TV is expensive.

Why would anyone buy it instead of an Apple TV?

  1. It works with more than just Apple devices. If you have a Windows Laptop, iPad and Android phone, it will work across all these.
  2. You can keep using the device that initiates the streaming independently without disrupting what is streaming on your TV. Seems ideal if you want to watch and check out some background info about the show on your tablet.
  3. It is only $35. For a little more than the price of one Apple TV you can equip 3 TVs in your house.
  4. Any computer/phone/tablet on the same wifi network becomes a remote.

Admittedly, Airplay allows you to stream anything that is currently on your Mac display, but as more 3rd parties built in support for Chromecast I see this as less and less of an issue.

Already, with support for YouTube, Netflix and Play Movies & Music, most use cases are covered, add the fact that you can also stream any Google Chrome Tab and there aren’t that many things left you can’t do.

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Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
Martin Golding