The first day of our cheesecake, cremes, and custards course at the Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver was bussssyyyyy. We prepared 3 batches of cheesecake and creme caramel. We mentioned in our post on New York Style Cheesecake that there are different kinds of cheesecake; it turns out that there is way more variation between different styles than we initially anticipated! Clearly, we are not cheesecake connoisseurs. Out of the many desserts we prepared today, we took home two German Cheesecakes (yay for double batches!)
This might be a slightly biased opinion, but according to (the very German) Chef Marco, German cheesecakes are the best kind. We aren’t from Germany, but we can definitely understand why he holds these cheesecakes in such high regard! They are incredibly light and fluffy and are on a sweet paste base. Sweet paste is definitely in it’s own category, but is probably more comparable to a cookie than anything else. Sweet paste is something that appeared to be covered in some of the other pastry courses, as our peers seemed to be pretty familiar with it.
SWEET PASTE (enough for 6 x 6″ cake rings)
- 90 g granulated sugar
- 180 g cold butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 g vanilla extract
- 1 g lemon zest
- 270 cake flour
- Knead together the granulated sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until the sugar has been worked in and there are no lumps. This should be done quickly so the butter stays cold
- Add the egg yolk and flavours until well mixed.
- Once the dough is smooth, sift the flour into it and knead with your hands until the flour is worked in. Be careful not to over do it!
- Refrigerate for a day to let the sugar dissolve in the dough.
- When you will be making cake, roll out the dough and use the cake rings to cut crusts.
- Roll out the crusts to ~3mm on a well floured table.
- Don’t overwork the dough.
- You want to bake it slightly until there is slight colour around the edges (not more than 10 minutes).
- You need to “dock” the paste before baking. A docker is a weird looking tool that you use to put small indentations into the paste to prevent it from rising.
GERMAN STYLE CHEESECAKE (2 x 6″ cakes)
- 375 mL homo milk
- ½ vanilla pod
- 30 g granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 40 g cornstarch
- 12 g gelatin sheets
- 50 g butter
- 5 mL lemon juice
- 300 g cream cheese
- 75 g quark cheese
- 4 egg whites
- 90 g granulated sugar
- 10 mL cream
- 1 egg yolk
- raisins (optional, unless you’re truly European)
- Preheat oven to 460F (or as hot as you can get it).
- Place two 6″ cake rings on parchment paper on a baking pan. Place pre-baked sweet pastry rings on top. Optional: put raisins on top of the crusts before filling. Use enough that there will be several in each slice of cheesecake.
- Place the gelatin in water to bloom (soften).
- Put 2/3 of the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and open pod, and begin heating.
- Dissolve the sugar and corn starch in the remaining 1/3 of the milk, and then mix in the egg yolks.
- Once the milk comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat off, and whisk some of the hot mixture into the eggs to temper them.
- Stir the egg mixture into the the heated milk and bring back to a boil, then immediately remove from heat.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the hot custard with the gelatin (squeezed out), butter, lemon juice, and cheeses until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they have some volume, and gradually add in the sugar until you have soft peaks.
- Fold 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining 2/3.
- Whisk the remaining egg yolk with cream (1:1 ratio by volume) to make an egg wash.
- Fill the cake rings with the cheesecake mixture, level, and brush the top with egg wash.
- Bake immediately for 7-10 minutes.
- Raisins are necessary to make this cheesecake authentically German style.
- You always want to “bloom” (soften) the gelatine first. Gelatin powder may or may not be as potent as gelatine sheets and inconsistencies may exist between different brands. Test your gelatine before you use it!.
- Ideally you want 375 g of Quark cheese (a soft European cheese), but it can be challenging to procure in Canada. Instead you could use another soft cheese like ricotta or mascarpone.
- The meringue needs to be the last part of the recipe completed; it will lose volume if it sits.
- This cake is baked at a very high temperature for a short time to prevent the meringue from rising while still getting an even bake.
- The sides should be white, and the top should have a even, coagulated jiggle when done. Check the cake frequently so you can monitor the changes in consistency as the cake bakes.
- Use a small knife dipped in hot water around the edges to remove the cakes. Don’t use a sawing motion.
- This cheesecake does not freeze well; the texture will change quite a bit.