This time last weekend, I was tearing around the east side of Berlin in the middle of a gale, trying to find a “Photoautomat” as my travelling companion was determined to get a ‘hipster’ photobooth picture to go home with. The task was long and wearisome, but the results are hilarious! We had a great time but now that I’m home and suffering post-Berlin blues, I’m inspired to make a classic German dessert – Käsekuchen.
Käsekuchen is traditionally made with a thin shortcrust pastry base and filled with Quark, which I’m a huge fan of as it’s delicious and very low fat. Like all cheesecakes, the basic recipe can be served “vanilla” or adapted to include any fruit or flavouring of your choice, just as long as it doesn’t add any extra liquid to the mix. The version I’m making is lemon and sultana, but luckily for this zest-hating baker, the Quark I used came pre-flavoured with lemon. If you can’t get hold of this, just grate and juice one whole lemon into the mix instead.
THIS CAKE SERVES 8 – 10
23cm springform cake tin
2 large mixing bowls
2 small mixing bowls
Clingfilm (Saran wrap)
For the pastry base:
150g plain flour
10g icing sugar
1 large egg (YOLK ONLY)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp water
For the filling:
750g lemon Quark
3 large eggs (separated)
90g Caster sugar
- Separate the first egg- keep the white aside for later!
- Sieve the flour and icing sugar into the large mixing bowl and add the butter. Rub together with fingertips until it forms breadcrumbs (or blend together in a food processor).
- Add the egg yolk, water and vanilla essence. Knead together until the mix is smooth and forms a ball.
- Wrap the dough ball in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (conventional oven)/ 180°C fan or Gas Mark 6.
- Dust a clean section of counter-top with a little plain flour (and keep some extra handy). Rub some onto the rolling pin also.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge, remove the film and put onto the floured surface. Roll dough flat into a large circle. The pastry should be very thin – only about 2-3mm thick. (NB: You’ll need to keep flouring the rolling pin to stop it from sticking, but use very carefully as too much flour dries the pastry out).
- Take the base out of the springform tin and place on top of the pastry. Cut around the base, leaving 5mm extra around the edge.
- Take away any leftover pastry and put the tin base to one side. Using a spatula, carefully lift the pastry onto the base, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the side. Pastry shrinks as it cooks, so you need this!
- Gently press the pastry down in the tin, removing any air bubbles, then prick it all over with a fork.
- Put the sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry, and cover with the baking beans.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- Keep the oven on at the same temperature once the pastry’s baked!
- Take the base out, remove the beans and baking paper, and cut off any pastry that’s over-hanging the edges.
- Re-attach the springform tin to the base (ensuring it’s totally closed and secured) and set aside.
- Separate the other 3 eggs into the two small bowls (including the white from the first egg).
- In the bowl you used for the pastry, mix together the Quark, sugar and sultanas (plus lemon juice & zest if you need it).
- Gradually add the egg yolks, stirring continuously.
- In the other large bowl, whisk the egg whites until the foam goes stiff and forms peaks.
- Add the whites to the Quark mix, folding in carefully. Don’t over-stir as you want to keep all the air in.
- Pour the mix into the tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven.
- Bake for 70-80 minutes. Check it regularly to ensure it’s not burning- the top should turn golden brown.
- At around 70 mins, test with a thin knife- if it’s done, this should come out clean. If not, leave in for longer.
- Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, to let the steam out. Leave the tin in the oven to cool for at least 30 mins.
- Remove tin from the oven and place on a board/cooling rack. Open the springform and lift the sides off carefully- it should come away almost clean.
- Using the spatula, carefully lift and place onto a plate or serving tray.
- Serve cold with cream or still warm with vanilla ice-cream (and a coffee’s recommended!).