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I love lemons. Not that I sit around and suck them or do anything weird to them. I’m not a crazy. But there is something … incredible about that ellipsoidal yellow fruit. Its history is a bit crazy. A genetic study found that it was a hybrid of the citron and the sour orange – which in itself is a hybrid of the pomelo and the Mandarin orange – and they were first used in Europe as ornamentals in Islamic gardens. 

For me, you only have to smell a freshly-cut lemon to be refreshed (a 2008 study showed that lemon oil aroma can affect human moods – this was published in the snappily titled periodical  Psychoneuroendocrinology) … and even the sight of that cheery yellow peel makes me smile. 

If it were up to me then I’d use lemons everywhere. 


This recipe was one I cooked on my recent jaunt to les parents in France. There were a few sad-looking lemons (not perky and bright by any stretch of the imagination), and there was also a tub of mascarpone lurking in the back of the fridge. Yes, you may have guessed it. This is a no-bake cheesecake. (Although this serves as a bit of a push for me to make another ‘proper’ cheesecake – the last time I had a home-baked cheesecake was at the reception of a friend’s wedding and was being lauded as some amazing piece of confection – it may have been nicer had the cook halved the amount of sugar he’d used …)


  • 10 digestive biscuits
  • 75g/3oz butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 700g/1½ lb mascarpone cheese
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar, plus more to taste
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar


Brush the bottom of a 23cm/9in springform cake tin with some of the melted butter and place a round of greaseproof paper in the base.

Crush the biscuits and tip them into a bowl, add the melted butter and honey and stir until well combined.

Tip the mixture into the bottom of the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon, gently push the crumbs from the centre outward, until smooth and level. This will form the base of the cheesecake. Chill in the fridge while making the filling.

For the filling, mix the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest and caster sugar together in a bowl until well combined. Do not mix the mixture too much as this will cause it to split. Taste the mixture and add more sugar, to taste.

Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the chilled biscuit mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to serve, either run a hot cloth round the outside of the tin or warm a sharp knife in hot water and run around inside the tin and ease out the cheesecake.