Traditional Käsekuchen (German cheesecake) recipe
The best way to discover a new place is to discover the tastes and smells of the regional cuisine. Whether it's popping by a local market on your travels or travelling the world through your own kitchen, you'll discover so much about a place and its people through their beloved foods.
Käsekuchen is a popular dessert here in Germany and can be found on the menus of almost every bakery, cafe and restaurant. Käsekuchen literally translates to cheesecake so you'll often hear people outside of Germany refer to it as 'German cheesecake'. Although it may translate to cheesecake it's much different from the cheesecake we generally know and love in North America. Käsekuchen is light and fluffy and oh-so-tasty, made with quark instead of cream cheese.
Quark is a popular dairy product in Germany and is technically cheese although it is more similar in appearance and taste to plain yogurt. Quark usually doesn't contain any added salt or sugar and is lower in fat than traditional dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese and of course cream cheese. So, Käsekuchen is ~healthier~ than traditional North American cheesecake - at least that's what I told myself as I dug into a second piece.
I have never made cheesecake before, let alone Käsekuchen, so I was really impressed with how my first attempt turned out. The recipe below has been adapted from German Culture's Käsekuchen recipe. Let me know how yours turns out in the comments!
Prep-time: 45 minutes | Cook-time: 10 minutes (crust), 60 minutes (filling) | Clean-up time: 15 minutes
Half package of Leibinz Butterkeks (can sub for graham crackers)
1/3 cup of sugar
4 tbsp room temperature butter
750 g of quark
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla sugar (can substitute for slightly more liquid vanilla)
1 lemon, zest and juice
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
To make the crust combine Butterkeks, butter and sugar in a food processor. If you're doing it by hand, place the cookies in a sealed Ziplock baggie and crush with a rolling pin before combining ingredients in a mixing bowl
Transfer cookie crumb mixture to a 9" springform pan and press into the bottom and sides
Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding the filling
To make the filling, combine quark, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl until combined and then stir in the butter
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. If you're doing this by hand it will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes so a hand mixer is definitely recommended.
Carefully fold in the egg whites
Bake in the oven for 60 minutes or until the edges are a deep brown and the centre is lightly golden
Turn the oven off and open the door leaving the cake inside to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing
Let the cake cool completely before serving
Top with your favourite seasonal fruits and enjoy
See below for recipe notes!
Traditional Käsekuchen is made with a doughy crust however, I'm a big fan of a graham cracker crust - extra graham crackers please! So, for this recipe I decided to use butterkeks as they are very popular here in Germany. As the name suggests, they are a simple butter cookie. I have seen these before in the international section of grocery stores back home, but if you can't find them you can use graham crackers or stick with the traditional crust in German Culture's Käsekuchen recipe.
Fold in the egg whites
Anyone else think of that scene from Schitt's Creek?
Don't worry, I don't really know what 'fold it in' means either. I try to mix it in slowly by scooping from the bottom so that I don't over mix and crush the fluffy egg whites in the process.
Baking the cake
While the cake is baking the centre will fall in and the edges will become much darker than the centre - this is supposed to happen so don't freak out. Although the edges become darker and slightly more firm, the inside remains nice and fluffy.
I recommend topping your Käsekuchen with your favourite local, seasonal fruits. I used strawberries because they are in season here in Southern Germany and available from local farmers at nearly every market stand.
Enjoy discovering Germany through this recipe, let me know how it turns out in the comments!