After I got sidetracked for a while, today I thought I would ease back into things with something simple and delicious – a lovely Baked Dutch Cheesecake with Quark. Just the thing for a weekday afternoon.
Quark, or fresh cheese, is one of many dairy products that is rather popular in lots of European countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany. While the Dutch call it kwark, and the French refer to it as fromage blanc, we call it Quark in German, but, basically, it is the same product. We can by it with different levels of fat content - varying from 10% to 40% FDM (fat in dry matter).
Mixed with fresh saisonal fruits or berries, Quark makes for a nice and healthy dessert, loaded with protein and minerals, It can also be enjoyed as a spread for your favorite sliced bread. Or mix it with herbs from your garden and serve it as a wonderful dip for fresh veggies or boiled new potatoes. But Quark really shines in all kinds of cheesecakes.
Cheesecake is one of my absolute favorite cakes. The flavor is sweet and tart, it is lemony and creamy. It is always a treat. It is also really so simple to make, so great for a baking novice, with but a few ingredients that are not much trouble to procure - that you might even have lingering around in your well-stocked fridge.
There are a lot of different recipes for Dutch Cheesecake out there, baked or un-baked, with fruits or berries, with a puff pastry or cookie (speculaas) dough base. We prefer the baked kind. The other day I came across a lovely Baked Dutch Kwarktaart and after I sufficiently tinkered around with a recipe, I finally settled on this no-fuss version which I like, rustic look an all, some days that´s all I need to make me happy.
Baked Dutch Cheesecake (Gebakken Hollandse Kwarktaart)
- one round of good-quality, all butter, puff pastry (storebought or homemade rough puff pastry) to fit your round springform pan (about 26 cm or 10 inches)
- 5 eggs (L), free-range or organic
- 250 grams superfine baking sugar
- the scraped seeds of one vanilla bean or 2 tsps natural vanilla sugar
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- finely grated zest from one organic lemon
- 500 grams Quark*
- On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to a round measuring about 30cm.
- Butter your baking pan, line the bottom of the pan with a round of baking parchment.
- Transfer the puff pastry to the baking pan.
- Chill for 10 minutes until completely firm.
- Then preheat your oven to 200° Celsius (400° Fahrenheit).
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon zest and quark.
- Take the baking pan from the refrigerator.
- Pour the filling into the puff pastry lined baking pan.
- Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling is set and golden.
- Transfer to a cooling rack, unmold and serve either cold or at room temperature with or without powdered sugar.
If you cannot get hold of Quark* you can make it yourself. Quark is a mild creamy cheese without the sour taste of yogurt. It is a soft un-aged cheese and is NOT the same thing as cream cheese or cottage cheese. It is also distinct from ricotta because ricotta is made from scalded whey. It usually has much lower fat content than cream cheeses and has no salt added.
- 1.5 l milk (try and use organic milk in this recipe)
- 0.5 l buttermilk (organic is definitely best in a recipe like this but do not use low-fat buttermilk. It will not work well)
- Pour both milks in a heavy pan and bring up to 38° Celsius (100 °Fahrenheit).
- Cover the pan and let it sit at room temp overnight.
- The following day, the whey should have separated from the milk solids.
- Line a colander with cheese cloth, knot the four ends together and suspend the bundle for a good three hours over a bowl to catch the whey.
- Untie the know, spoon out the Quark – it should be "dry", the consisitency should look like a cross between cream cheese and yogurt.
- NOTE: For cheesecake, let it drain a little longer. Or add some freshly cut chives, Italian parsley, lemon zest, finely mashed garlic, salt, and pepper and you have a basic herbal quark (Kräuterquark), a great spread right on your favorite bread or roll.
In no time you can be enjoying a delicious tart that is a perfectly suited for a weekday afternoon, rain or shine, it can even be considered a healthyish afternoon (or breakfast) treat.