Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Polish cheesecake (sernik)

Polish: sernik
Russian: Чизкейк
Portuguese: bolo de queijo
Finnish: juustokakku
Norwegian: ostekake
Japanese: チーズケーキ
Slovenian: skutino pecivo
Turkish: labne peynirli pasta
Hungarian: sajttorta
Czech: tvarohový koláč

Cheesecake has to be a special guest on each Polish Easter table, same as during the Christmas time, but same time it has a very privileged place in the ordinary, non-festive period. It means that it is one of the most beloved cakes in Poland and so it is, together with apple pie. Cheesecake can be baked or cooled, light as a mousse or heavy and thick, with a differrent consistency that depends on adding gelatine, sour cream, milk or cooked egg yolks, flavoured with cocoa, peaches, jello, orange succade, lemon juice or sour cherries, underside with biscuit crumbs, layer of cake or anything... The big differrence in cheesecakes worldwide is the cheese that we use. In Poland it would be twaróg, a kind of quark or curd, which can be sold already mashed into a silky cream, or you mash it on your own. Nevertheless, people sometimes follow American standards and add philadelphia cheese. There also are cheesecakes with thick balcan yoghurt instead of cheese. I made mine with twaróg. Between thousands of cheesecake recipes, I am sure I will do this one again. I hope you will also like my Polish sernik!

1 kg quark / curd / twaróg
4 egg whites
4 egg yolks + two more*
2 tablespoons custard powder or potato starch
2 tablespoons wheat flour
9 tablespoons melted butter
9 tablespoons oil (mine was poppyseed oil)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup raisins
a handful of orange succade
1 cup boiling tea

(underside is of your choice: none, layer of yeast cake or pie crust, biscuit crumbs with melted butter or just a layer of biscuits or a big wafer)

1. Mash quark carefully. Pour boiling tea over raisins and set aside.

2. Beat 4 yolks with sugar. Prepare two yolks more: they have to be cooked.* You have two options: cook whole eggs, eat whites and take yolks, or separate whites and yolks from a raw egg, use whites anyhow you wish in other dessert and cook yolks (unbroken!) in a saucepan with boiling water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

3. Press cooked yolks through a sieve precisely, mix with beaten raw yolks. Mix butter and oil with well mashed (until silky!) quark

4. Combine eggs batter with quark. Add sieved custard powder and flour, succade and drained raisins

5. Beat 4 wgg whites until stiff and pour into quark, mix gently. Pour the mass into a tray (with wafer, biscuit crumbs, layer of cake or just butter with breadcrumbs) and bake - about 1 hour in 180C (as always, you have to be near the oven and check, check, check!)

(I covered mine with melted milk chocolate but you don't have to, you can leave it without topping or just sprinkle with powdered sugar)

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