Monday, June 20, 2011

Käsekuchen - German Cheesecake

I love cheesecake.  I love the silkiness of NY style cheesecake.  I love it plain. I love it topped with fresh fruit, or drizzled with caramel.  I love it made with pumpkin, and I once enjoyed a decadent "Cheesecake Factory" Peppermint Cheesecake with a chocolate crust and drizzled with dark chocolate.   Oddly enough, I don't eat it very often.  The only reason for this, is that cheesecake (to me) equals a very guilt-ridden dessert treat. It's also deadly addicting, to me.

German Käsekuchen is a rare animal to find.  It's also a fond childhood memory of a time when our family lived in Germany.  The German version of cheesecake is different.  The texture is most similar to a ricotta-based cheesecake.  It's not as creamy, but has more of a dense texture. It's somewhat sweet, but a lot less than American versions.  The crust isn't made with graham crackers, but with more of a butter-shortbread dough.  The ingredient that is unique to this cheesecake is "Quark".

Whenever Craig and I head to one of our timeshares in the "Gold Rush Country" of Angel's Camp, we stop at the Oakdale Cheese Company.  We buy an assortment of their Gouda cheeses and I usually buy a slice of their German Cheesecake.  One the way back home, we stopped again, and I decided to buy Quark.  It was time for me to see if I could recreate this childhood favorite cheesecake.

I've also spotted Quark at Whole Foods.

The texture of Quark is very similar to ricotta cheese. You could also use cottage cheese, pureed in a blender. After searching the internet, I stumbled across "Diana's Dessert's" and I found the recipe that sounded like I was looking for.  First, the crust:

 We begin with flour, sugar, butter (that I've grated, as it's cold), vanilla sugar, lemon zest and one egg. Using a food processor, the butter is cut into the dry ingredients. Last, the egg is added, and the dough is kneaded and then covered in plastic and refrigerated for at least an hour. NOTE: The smell of the lemon-zest and vanilla sugar really brought back childhood memories in Germany.

The dough is a little temperamental, at first. I begin by rolling it out once. Then folding it again, and rolling it out for a second time.  Using a springform pan, the dough is laid out and then I had to press it into shape. Set aside.

For the filling, we need egg yolk, vanilla sugar, sugar, butter, heavy cream, Quark, egg whites, corn starch and a pinch of salt.  Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla-sugar until pale and foamy. Add the softened butter and beat well, then add the heavy cream and beat again. Add the quark and stir until the mixture is smooth and throughly combined.  I added two of my favorite baking additives, to the filling.  Fiori di Sicilia is an all-natural combination of citrus and vanilla.  Loranne's Buttery Sweet Dough is my "secret ingredient" that I add to a lot of my baking goods.  You don't need these for these recipes, but I felt it added a very "European" flavor to the filling.

 Last, whisk the egg whites with the salt until very stiff, then very gently fold in the quark mixture, also adding the sifted cornstarch a little at a time. 

 Pour the filling into the crust shell and I used an off-set spatula to even out the filling.  I trimmed the dough, leaving about 1" above the filling line. Bake in preheated 300 degrees F (150 C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes (longer if necessary) until well risen and golden – it resembles a souffle at this point (It will sink in the middle quite dramatically – don’t worry, it’s supposed to do this). Turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for 15 minutes; then remove it from the oven, cool for an hour or so at room temperature, and refrigerate for several hours before releasing sides of pan and serving. (I made this cheesecake a day before serving.)
The next day, it was time to taste this cheesecake.

Nice crust!


The moment of truth...



TASTING NOTES:  The sweetness of this cheesecake is very mild.  The texture is moist, and both creamy with a slight denseness.  The crust is really good-- and I'm usually not a fan of pie crust.  I can taste very subtle notes of citrus.  My husband, who isn't a fan of cheese, really liked this German cheesecake.  I actually enjoyed a slice for breakfast, with a dark roast coffee.  I was back in time, as that child who would hope for a second slice of my Oma's cheesecake that she had brought home from the local bakery.  It's a winner.  The big bonus is that I didn't feel one iota of guilt about this recipe. It's a treat. It's worthy to bake for special company.  I would definitely make this recipe again. In fact, I have a frozen container of Quark that will be morphed into this delectable treat in the next few months.  


As always, a printable recipe card is at the end of this post.

Enjoy!






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20 comments:

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

My best friend is Slovenian but lived in Germany all through her childhood. She always complained about "American" cheesecake and has been looking for quark here in the USA forever! I can't wait to tell her we can probably get it at Whole Foods! Yeah! What a special treat it will be when I get to make this for her! You made my day!!

Brenda said...

What a gorgeous cheesecake! My daughter has spent time in Germany and raved not only about the cheesecake she had there, but the Quark! Love your blog, I'm your newest follower. Looking forward to looking around! :o)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks for the interesting post. I was totally unfamiliar with German cheesecake. I tend to think of cheesecake as either the classic cream cheese cake, or the Italian ricotta cake (which this seems a bit more similar to).

I see Quark and I think of the Star Trek DS9 character. I'm such a geeeeeeeekkkkk!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I've seen quark in our German market but I've never bought it. I'm tempted now, Debby, because this is exactly the kind of cheesecake I love. I made something similar with ricotta several months ago and, although I drained the ricotta overnight, the bottom crust was soggy and the cake oozed moisture. The taste was great, but it was too wet. It doesn't look like you have that problem at all.

Wish I could have joined you for a slice and a cup of coffee.

Joanne said...

Cheesecake is definitely a danger food of mine also! But that doesn't really ever stop me from making it. I"ll have to try this version! It sounds so interesting!

Carole said...

Mmmmmmmmm, this looks delicious, Debby. I'll have to see if I can find quark in my area.

bellini said...

Like you cheesecake is a weakness of mine and I live a small slice once in a while...but can I really stop at one?

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely crust on your cheesecake. I've never been able to find Quark in a store. Will make a note to check out Whole Foods on my next visit. Would love to try it.
Sam

Allie said...

I owe my friend a cheesecake for doing me a favor and I keep telling her I'll make one. Now I have a great recipe so I will have to!!

Carolyn™ said...

Never heard of Quark and doubt I could get it but ricotta is everywhere. I just love the internet I learn something every day.

Looks delicious by the way

Ciao Chow Linda said...

quark is a new one on me, but I know I'd love it if it tastes like ricotta - and the cheesecake looks perfect.

Karen said...

For the last three years ,we have gone to Germany for Christmas and I gained several pounds from eating that wonderful cake. Now I can recreate it at home. Thank you so much.

Your site is beautiful and I have added you to my blogroll.

barbara said...

Next time try it with some rum soaked raisins - that is the grownup version of our lovely German cheesecake and it tastes divine.

Elisabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi I baked this today turned out wonderful, a very different method compared to the traditional cheesecake but well worth it. Tweaked the recipe a bit by adding raisins soaked in rum for 24 hours and one tablespoon of lemon zest to the mixture at the end. Superb!!

spsmallwood said...

You weren't kidding about the crust! Mine is still baking. Can't wait to try it after it cools off!

spsmallwood said...

You weren't kidding about the crust! I'm making mine for my mom who is 100% German, 85, and not in good health. She requested it last week. Still in the oven. Will let you know how she likes it. Thanks!

Linda said...

I am brand new to your blog, and I am so excited! My grandma was full Austrian and I love to find recipes that are from her area. She came to the states when she was 15. I can hardly wait to find quark and make this recipe! Thanks!

P.S. Have you ever heard of smorn?

Anonymous said...

Hallo. I am living in Germany and i absolutely love this cake. I tried baking it yesterday and it did turn out awesome except that the top turned black although it tasted perfect. Can you please suggest where i might have gone wrong?? I baked it at 180 degree for 45 mins.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Hallo Anonymous Germany:
You really have me stumped as to why the stop turned out black! My first thought was that it was broiled? But, no, I doubt that's what you did. If you over-baked it, the top would turn black but the cheesecake would most likely have been really dry?

Whatever the reason was, I'm glad it still tasted good!