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What Is German Cheesecake?

By Britt Archer
Updated May 16, 2024
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German cheesecake, also known by the traditional German name Kasekuchen, or Kaesekuchen, is a rich dessert from Germany. As with other gourmet cheesecake varieties, different recipes exist for tasty variations of this sweet concoction, and some cooks dress up their creations with a variety of berries, raisins or chocolate. The unique ingredient that sets German cheesecake apart from other types of cheesecake is quark cheese. A white cheese created from a base of sour milk, quark can seem pasty and chalky to those who are not accustomed to it. It produces a different taste than one of the main ingredients in many other types of cheesecakes, cream cheese.

In different parts of the world, German cheesecake is known by other names. The Austrians, for example, call it Topfenkuchen, and the Swiss know it as Quarktorte and also as Quarkkuchen. In America, where quark cheese is not as readily available as it is in Germany, cooks have learned to adapt by creating several types of faux quark with various methods and different ingredients, but traditionalists believe that a true German cheesecake must contain quark. One common substitution for quark is ricotta cheese, either blended with another type of cheese or pureed.

As with other types of cheesecake, a German cheesecake is baked in a springform pan. The center of the final product will rise while baking and then may fall a bit when removed from the oven, which is similar to what happens when baking other types of cheesecake. There are differences, however, and they are mainly in the taste and texture. Lovers of German cheesecake enjoy it for its lighter texture and a taste that is less sweet than other varieties, but still sweet and full of flavor.

The classic cheesecake dessert has a long history, and it is believed that one of the first was created for the first Olympic games in Greece thousands of years ago. Historians believe that a man named Athenaeus, in 230 A.D., was the first person to write the recipe down for posterity. The Romans later adapted the recipe and made it their own, calling it libuma. Marcus Cato was the first Roman to write down a cheesecake recipe. The sweet cake spread to other areas as the Roman Empire grew, reaching parts of Europe and the British Isles.

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