One of us spent a summer living with a baker’s family in Germany and has kicked himself repeatedly in the 20 years since, that he didn’t offer to help out in the kitchen - that he didn’t beg for a job. It was a great missed opportunity. In spite of having learned so little, he does remember a cheesecake with a raised crust and raisins in the batter. The cake of his memory did not have a meringue top, however.
How’s your German? There is a German Website dedicated to cheesecakes. As in this country, there are countless cheesecake recipes, and in our brief scan of Käesekuchen.de, found no really close matches to your Oma’s cheesecake. But we pieced together a few recipes to come up with something, although it taxed our translation skills.
The biggest challenge you may face, though, is deciding what to use for the cheese. While American cheesecakes are generally made with cream cheese, German cheesecakes have traditionally been made with Quark. The name simply means curd in German. To us, Quark is a soft, white, light, chalky cheese. To Germans, it is delicious. In German cookbooks written for an American audience, we’ve found several suggestions for substitutes for Quark in a cheesecake. One is to use farmer’s cheese, another is to purée cottage cheese in a blender or food processor, and the third is to purée eight parts of ricotta cheese with 1 part of sour cream in a food processor. The third choice sounds like the most Quark-like option to us.
Related Article: What is Quark?
Omas Vorgetäuschten Käsekuchen mit Rosinen (Grandma’s Pretend Cheesecake with Raisins)
For the Crust
1-3/4 cups of all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/3 cup sugar 6 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1/8 tsp salt 1/4 cup milk
For the Filling:
1/3 cup raisins 2 Tablespoons rum 3 eggs, separated 6 Tbsp softened, unsalted butter 1/2 cup sugar 3 Tbsp flour 1 pound Quark-like cheese of your choice 1 cup sour cream 1/4 tsp cream of tartar salt
For the Meringue:
2 egg whites 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
To make the dough, cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 5 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. By hand, mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then add the milk, stirring after each addition only long enough to combine. Press the dough into the springform pan.
To make the filling, soak the raisins in the rum for a half an hour. Combine the egg yolks, butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat 5 minutes, or until light. Add the flour, cheese, and sour cream and mix on low, just until mixed. Remove the raisins from the rum and stir them into the filling mixture. In a clean bowl, beat the whites until stiff, adding a pinch of salt at the beginning and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar after the foam has begun to develop. Fold the whites and the rest of the filling together until well mixed.
Make the meringue for the top by beating the two remaining whites with a pinch of salt at the start and adding 1/4 tsp cream of tartar after the foam has begun to develop. Spread the meringue evenly over the top of the cake pan. Bake for an hour and 10 minutes. Let cool on a rack for an hour and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours before serving.