German cheesecake is quite different from American-style cheesecake, which is most common in the UK. The German version is always baked and its main ingredient is quark – a soft cheese with a considerably lower fat content than Philadelphia cheese. The flavour of German cheesecake is not dissimilar to the American version, but its consistency is a lot lighter and fluffier. Until a few years ago quark was not really available in regular supermarkets in the UK. Now it is sold almost everywhere. I baked this with the non-fat version (making up for this with the addition of melted butter), but the more fatty curd cheese, which is similar in texture, can also be used. The amount of butter in the mix can be reduced in this case. I have read (but I have not tried this yet) that quark can be replaced with strained yoghurt if it is nowhere to be found. Thick yoghurt is placed in a sieve lined with a thin cotton tea towel and left to strain in the fridge overnight. The resulting consistency resembles that of quark. I am sure this will work, but I also think that the flavour will not quite be the same.
German cheesecake is one of my favourite cakes. It keeps for a few days and it can be varied according to taste. The very basic version, without any flavouring or additions, tastes great. The flavour can be altered with the addition of grated lemon peel or vanilla seeds or extract. Fruit can also be added. In winter, raisins or slices of poached pears are good. In summer, a handful of raspberries, blueberries, cherries or apricots make for a fruity alternative.
This makes one large cheesecake – I used a spring form with a 28 cm diameter.
For the pastry:
250 g plain flour
130 g cold butter
75 g sugar
1 egg yolk (plus two tbsp cold water, if required)
For the filling:
750 g quark cheese
65 g plain flour
175 g sugar
100 g melted butter
Quickly knead all pastry ingredients into a ball of dough. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes. Grease a springform tin and line it with the thinly rolled out pastry.
For the filling divide the egg yolks from the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Mix the egg yolks with the quark cheese, flour and sugar. Add the melted butter and mix well. Finally, thoroughly fold in the whisked egg whites. You can add some vanilla seeds/extract or some grated lemon peel to flavour the cheesecake mixture. The cake in the picture contains some rum-soaked raisins and vanilla.
If using, add some raisins or fruit to the pastry shell. Add the cheesecake mixture and smooth the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for about 60 minutes at 180 degrees. Make sure the cake does not get too dark on top. If it does, it can be covered with some aluminium foil.
The cheesecake can rise quite a lot and tends to sink a bit in the middle when it cools down. I have found that it sinks less if it is left in the switched off oven for a while to cool down slowly (maybe open the door a little bit). Leave to cool completely before cutting.