Diary

Polish Cheesecake


I grew up with cheesecake that was made without cream cheese. My grandparents were all Polish and what we called baker’s or farmer’s cheese was a dry cheese ingredient that was used by commercial bakers for various “danish pastries” and for cheesecakes alike. It was easy to make and seeing as it did not contain sugar in the manufacture of the cheese it was relatively good for you too. Unless of course you had a lactose intolerance (which no one in our family did).

For some years my paternal grandfather was partner in a bakery. Gramps baked at work, and at home. Many a time the whole family would be engaged in baking projects when he baked for church activities; preparing various fruits, grinding poppyseed for a filling, shelling nuts or grinding them. There were a good number of pleasant days spent with the whole family engaged in making sweet smelling things.

But somehow it’s the cheesecake that calls my name loudest. I’ve had recipes and lost them. I made batches like the one that follows and tried others with cream cheese to see whether I liked them better. It’s always to something like this that I return. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 ounces cold butter
  • 2 large egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

Filling:

  • 5 ounces butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature, separated)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 pounds farmers’ cheese or bakers’ cheese or in a pinch ricotta

INSTRUCTIONS:

Make the Crust

  • In a large bowl or food processor, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and baking powder. Cut in or pulse 5 ounces cold butter as for pie dough.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together 2 egg yolks and sour cream and add to the flour-butter mixture, combining or pulsing only until combined.
  • If the dough is too dry, add an extra whole egg. If the dough is too soft to roll, refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Lightly grease a 13×9-inch pan with butter. Roll pastry dough large enough to line the pan and come up the sides. Fit into a pan, making a crimped or rolled edge.
  • Note: If you have leftover dough, roll it into pencil shapes to decorate the top of the filled cheesecake.

Make the Filling

  • Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream together 5 ounces room-temperature butter with 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 large room-temperature egg yolks and vanilla until well incorporated. Thoroughly mix in the cheese.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the 4 large room-temperature egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold them into the cheese mixture.
  • Pour filling into pastry crust-lined pan. If you have leftover dough, roll into pencil shapes and lay them diagonally across the top of the cheesecake.
  • Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until the center is only slightly jiggly. Don’t let the top brown.
  • Let cool completely before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

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