Garden of Eden Cheesecake

From childhood memories, Mum’s baked cheesecake used to be for my siblings and me a fanciful dream, a cake dream that only came a few times a year. Our mother Hinda used to make the same baked cheesecake for the family four times a year to celebrate each of our birthdays. The same cake each time that never failed to please and was so tasty that it has remained in our collective memories as one of those pleasures that you don’t want to revisit just in case you shatter the illusion, the life held dream.

Believe it or not, cheesecake has its origins in the Eastern Mediterranean. The earliest known recipe for cheesecake is around the 5th century BCE by the Greek physician Aegimus who wrote a cookbook on the wonderful art of making cheesecakes. The ancient Greeks, while being first past the post with the invention of the cheesecake, failed miserably in the naming stakes, settling on the rather unusual name of ‘placenta cake’, leaving it to the good old British to come up with a more acceptable name ‘Cheesecake’ around the 15th century. The rest is history.

There is such a variety of cheesecakes out there. I picked the ‘Garden of Eden’ cheesecake recipe to bake for the coming Jewish pilgrim festival of Shavuot, a festival that celebrates the giving of the law to Moses by God and the beginning of the observance of the kosher laws by the Jewish people. For these and many more obscure reasons the festival of Shavuot is celebrated by eating predominantly dairy foods. Thus Shavuot is the big cheesecake time of year the time of year that New Yorker Arnold Reuben dreamed of when he invented the famous New York Cheesecake back in the late 1920s.

Garden of Eden Cheese Cake: 

For short pastry base use the ingredients and method in my BFD food column Lemon Tart.

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • White cheese 9% x 500 gram
  • Sour cream x 400 gram
  • Sugar x 150 gram
  • Eggs x 2
  • Flour or cornflour x 50 gram
  • Lemon zest
  • Vanilla

Topping:

  • Sour cream x 300 gram
  • Sugar x 50 gram
  • 1/2 vanilla pod

Method:

The cheesecake can be made in any form desired. First place baking paper on the baking tray or in cake tin, roll out and place down the short pastry base, put in fridge.

For the topping, add all its ingredients together, add the inside of half a vanilla pod, mix well with a whisk until smooth and set aside in the fridge.

All ingredients for the cake bar the flour should be mixed thoroughly with a whisk, then fold in the flour. When the mix has become one, pour onto the unbaked short pastry base. Put into a preheated 200 Celsius oven for ten minutes then drop the temperature to 150 C for forty minutes. Should be lightly browned on top; if it needs more time, do so in increments of five minutes. Leave to rest for five minutes then pour the topping over the cake while it is still slightly hot/warm, ensuring it is distributed evenly. Leave to cool then place in fridge without covering. Only cover when completely cold.

I serve this by itself; some people like fruit coulees or pastry crumble.

Happy Shavuot to all.

N.B.

Making a baked Cheesecake under Hamas missile fire is no different from baking on a regular day. You just have to pick the right location to live in. Hamas fires missiles towards Jerusalem (they never quite make it), but they wouldn’t dare try to target the city, not with their primitive targeting systems, they might just hit Al Aqsa and then wouldn’t that be a shame.

Next week Torta de Funghi, back to Italy, Porcini or ‘Little Pigs’ as they are affectionately called. Traditional Italian Mushroom Quiche.  

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The BFD Food Column: Garden of Eden Cheesecake
Daniel Goldwater

Daniel Goldwater

Ex-New Zealander, lover of the buzz that emanates from Jerusalem, Israel and the wider Med. region. Self-trained chef and entrepreneur, trained Pastry chef and former Personal chef to the Ambassador of...