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Käsekuchen (Classic German Cheesecake)

Käsekuchen (Classic German Cheesecake)

7:43 pm by Kamilya Abilova

We here at Wünder were thrilled to discover a fantastic book called Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss (aka The Wednesday Chef). We highly recommend you get a copy for your own kitchen — you can purchase it from Amazon here. Below is Ms. Weiss’s recipe for Käsekuchen (a classic German quark cheesecake), as well as her notes on this delicious dessert. Enjoy and good luck!

ingredients

crust
1 ⅔ cups, scooped and leveled, minus 1 tablespoon/200g all-purpose flour
½ cup/100g granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg
7 tablespoons/100g unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, softened, cut into cubes

filling
3 ⅔  cups/900g Quark, drained if necessary (see page 8)
6 tablespoons/90ml whole milk
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon/190g granulated sugar
⅓ cup/45g cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons/90ml whipping cream

To make the crust: Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, and then knead in the egg and butter until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a 9-inch/23cm springform pan with a piece of parchment paper, letting the sides hang over the edge to function as a sling after baking.
Press the dough evenly into the pan, creating a 2-inch-/5cm-high rim. Line the crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling: Place the Quark, milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and salt together until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Fold into the Quark mixture. In another bowl, whip the cream until thick. Fold into the Quark mixture.

When the crust has finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and immediately remove the aluminum foil and weights; maintain the oven temperature. If the crust has slumped down in the pan and thickened, use the back of a large spoon to press the crust back up the sides of the pan and even it out.

Pour the Quark mixture into the crust (the filling will come up over the crust almost to the edge of the pan, but don’t worry). Gently place the pan back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and insert the tip (1 inch/2.5cm) of a sharp knife horizontally into the portion of the cake that has risen up over the edge of the pan. Holding the knife steady, run it all the way around the cake. This will keep the cake from cracking later. Maintain the oven temperature.

Place the pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, you may need to cover the top of the cake with a piece of aluminum foil if it’s getting too dark. When it’s done, the cake should be golden brown and wobble gently in the center when carefully jiggled. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely on a rack before loosening and removing the springform ring. The cake can be served the day it is made, but it improves with a few days’ rest in the refrigerator. The cake will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Et voilà! Quark cheesecake for all! Thanks Luisa!

Notes from The Wednesday Chef

If you’ve ever been to Germany, it’s likely you’ve come across the very best use of Quark: Käsekuchen. Popular from north to south and east to west, Käsekuchen may well be Germany’s national cake. There are too many versions of Käsekuchen to count (this book alone has four), but the one thing they all have in common is the use of Quark.

Thick, creamy, and imposing, this classic crusted Käsekuchen is one for the ages. Faintly sour from the Quark, not too rich or sweet despite its height, and only lightly flavored with vanilla, a fat wedge of this cheesecake can be put away without any deleterious effects. I adapted the recipe from one that I found in an issue of Die Zeit, a serious national weekly newspaper with a wonderful food section. The accompanying article was all about how difficult it was, even for Germans, to crack the code of perfect Käsekuchen, and the author lamented the miserable state of contemporary store-bought Käsekuchen. Several bakers, as well as the head of a pastry school in Berlin, were interviewed, and strong feelings about regional differences in cheesecake were aired. The article featured four different recipes, but this one clearly stole the show.

The filling calls for almost an entire kilo of Quark, which is lightened with beaten egg whites and enriched with a bit of whipped cream. Poured into a par-baked short crust, the filling puffs up impressively in the oven. Since this enormous amount of filling is still only baked in a 9-inch/23cm pan, the cake comes out gorgeously thick, which makes for truly satisfying wedges. And trust me, you’re not going to be happy with just a thin sliver of this stuff.

If possible, the cake should be made and refrigerated at least a day before serving. Before refrigeration, the cake has an airy, fluffy quality that is just fine, but once refrigerated it settles into something thicker and creamier and so much more satisfying.

Reprinted with permission from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

You can follow Ms. Weiss on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.