REAL CHEESECAKE DOES NOT HAVE A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST!

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Submitted Date 09/15/2019
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It seems to be more a matter of where you might be from as you what you might think a "real" cheesecake is. As time is going by, more and more places are only serving cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. But why?

I have never cared for a cheesecake to have a "crust" other than the natural "crust" that appears on the top of a real baked cheesecake.

Too many people today are only experienced with the type of cheesecake that primarily comes out of a box. You can not make real cheesecake from a mix! There's a little work involved, fresh ingredients and considerable baking time. Most of the old fashion recipes call for a least two hours at 300 degrees. The one that is made with this recipe took just over 3 hours at 300 degrees in a small gas oven.

The "Pennsylvania Dutch" or Amish styles of cheesecake is what my mother used to cook when I was a kid. The Jello brand of cheese whatever mix was something no one would eat in our household, knowing what the real stuff is.

Between the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, there is much debate over which is a better cheesecake, New York Style or PA Dutch. Both of these couple hundred-year-old recipes do not have graham cracker crust, as neither do the older recipes from Europe and elsewhere around the world. It was somewhere back in the 1950s when a graham cracker crust was first used with a version of "cheesecake".

The original cheesecakes come from time-honored traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. The first recipe book written just for making cheesecakes dates back to the 5th century in Greece! There was a version of cheesecake that had a crust that was separately prepared and baked, however, it was not graham cracker.

There are dozens of nations with their many varieties of cheesecakes, most all of the recipes predating the Jello brand. And as far as cheesecake goes, using cream cheese is a fairly new thing too! Cream cheese was invented in 1872 in New York and first sold in the USA in the year 1880. It was called Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese. In 1928 Kraft bought the company.

Two of the more "traditional" cheeses used for many European style cheesecakes is ricotta or cottage cheese. Cheesecakes do not have to be sweet or eaten as a dessert. You might not have thought of it until now, but a quiche is fundamentally a savory cheesecake.

Back in the 1990s, I used to travel by van all over the Mid Atlanta and New England areas and I was always seeking out the best little, hole in the wall type restaurants with a killer menu. I started to seek out the best homemade cheesecakes as well and learned over time that my most favorite cheesecakes were being found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Each has subtle differences.

The PA Dutch or Amish style has a texture to the cheese that is a little shall I say a bit crumbly. It is not as smooth as a New York style or a New Jersey style cheesecake. The very best chocolate cheesecake I ever ate was made in a diner in New Jersey. (But chocolate cheesecake is another recipe to try later and review.)

Amish style cheesecake

One thing that I sorely miss not living in or traveling to the Mid Atlanta and New England areas are the diners. Once you learn what those diners are like, the other so-called diners just friggin' suck, like all of those west of Mississippi. The East Coast diners have a couple of hundred meals and items on their menus, always fresh seafood specials, a salad bar is usually included with your meal along with soup and many times a dessert. The soup of the day for Thursday almost always no matter which diner you go to is split pea, with homemade croutons. These diners are where I could look forward to having a great four-course meal for a very reasonable price, any time day or night. Plus, they would all have homemade cheesecake.

My all-time favorite diner has to be the Double T Diner just west of Baltimore in Catonsville. I do miss eating there and I used to do so regularly when I lived in Baltimore. http://doubletdiner.com/catonsville-restaurant/

Just look at their menu!

http://doubletdiner.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Double-TT-Catonsville.pdf

They also have fresh daily specials and fresh fish that is not listed on the menu. Their cheesecake does not have a graham cracker crust, or at least it didn't use to and I doubt they have changed their recipe. Remember the Barry Levison movie "Diner"? Well, supposedly the diner in the movie was modeled after the Double T.

I will be making a couple of different types of crustless cheesecakes for this article and video recording it. The first version is a recipe that I had success with, however this time I did not buy enough cream cheese to fit the recipe as it calls for four and did not realize this until the project was started. In the video, you will see more ingredients placed out than I used! I reduced the sugar by a quarter cup, about 1 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch and about a quarter of a cup of the sour cream since I only used three packages of cream cheese.

Ingredients:

3 packages of cream cheese

4 eggs

1 3/4 cups of sour cream

1 stick of butter, plus a little more to butter up the pan

1 1/4 white cane sugar

1 1/2 tablespoon of Non-GMO corn starch

Juice of one lime

1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

I ended up having a problem with the video clip showing the mixing of these ingredients and so it is not included in the video.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter up the inner springform pan. All the above ingredients need to be at room temperature.

First, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, then add one egg at a time, mixing each time before adding the next egg. Next, blend in the sour cream and beat until smooth again. Then blend in the sugar, corn starch, vanilla, and lime juice and beat until thoroughly smooth. Then pour carefully into the springform pan.

After about 2 1/2 hours I checked the cheesecake and it has risen to about 3/4 inch above the springform pan, but it still had not browned enough on top yet. Having given it another 15 minutes and peeking again it looks like it is now a full inch over the pan! It still needs to brown a little more though. After a little over three hours at 300 degrees, I figured I better take it out. It had risen to at least a full inch above the springform pan!

The top has some deep crevasses in it revealing what looked sort of like a custard texture. First I have to let to cool down for a couple of hours and then refrigerate it for a day. For the long baked types of cheesecake, they should be refrigerated so that can set properly before you even try to cut them.

Once the cheesecake was refrigerated for a day and a slice cut, I could see that it did have a custard texture as I first had thought. The texture was a nearly perfect crumbly type of texture that I was looking for. Just the right amount of sugar, making it slightly sweet, not overly.

Real Cheesecake does not have a graham cracker crust!

For me, I think using a springform pan is most likely the best way to go, rather than trying to use another type of pan and parchment paper.

Soon I will be back with an even older version of cheesecake either using ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. (Both of those being different cheesecakes, of course.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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