This German Cheesecake (AKA Käsekuchen) is as authentic as it gets! When given to my German neighbors, they declared it “tastes like home” and gave it 5 stars!
So I am kind of in love with my German neighbors.
I discovered they were German when I delivered leftover treats to our apartment complex’s clubhouse and they were in there. At first I thought their accent (they were speaking in lower voices) was French, and I got excited to use my 10-year old rusty French I learned in high school to communicate with them. But then I found out they spoke German, and I took that as a challenge to learn it!
We got to talking and they got used to me bringing in treats to share, so one day, they offered me some cookbooks to look through since they know I love baking. The only problem: the cookbooks and cooking magazines were all in German!
(Thank god for Google Translate!)
They casually mentioned that German Cheesecake is so different from American cheesecake – lighter, fluffier, and very delicious. American cheesecake can be quite dense, and I was intrigued by this fluffy cheesecake, so I decided to translate one of the cooking magazines advertising pages of käsekuchen (aka, cheesecake) and make it myself.
After lots and lots of typing into Google Translate (and a brief meltdown regarding what quark is) I had a recipe and I whipped it up immediately. (Oh, and BTW – quark is the German answer to cream cheese. However, if you cannot find quark in your grocery store, this tastes amazing with whole-milk ricotta cheese!)
Some tips before diving in to this German classic:
- This recipe uses vanilla sugar and vanilla pudding powder, both of which are German ingredients you can find at an international supermarket or somewhere like World Market, which is where I found mine. Dr. Oetker is the brand, and if you click the hyperlinks above, it’ll take you to Amazon where you can purchase these ingredients. As far as substitutions go, you could definitely use vanilla extract in place of the vanilla sugar, but the vanilla pudding powder is a must! (I have not tried this with Jell-O pudding, but I am assuming it would work).
- The crust is a shortbread-like crust that is so delicious with this cheesecake. You could also use graham crackers like an American cheesecake.
- This cheesecake tastes similar to traditional American cheesecake but has a lighter and fluffier texture. You could always experiment by adding in fresh fruit or even chocolate to the cheesecake batter before baking.
The secret to this cheesecake being light and fluffy has to do with the different type of cheese the Germans use: quark. I know it kind of sounds like a Pokemon character, but it has a different texture to cream cheese. Again, if you cannot find quark, use ricotta! (Full confession: I could not find quark, so I used whole-milk ricotta which my neighbors assured me was very similar to quark.)
And the other secret? Separating the eggs! The stiffened egg whites get folded into the batter which makes it extra airy and light, unlike traditional American cheesecake. The result is a gorgeous, cloud-like cheesecake you’ve got to try!
*recipe from Frau im Trend, a German magazine
- ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp (200 g) salted butter, softened slightly
- 1 cup (225 g) granulated sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup (225 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 cups quark (a German cheese - if you cannot find quark, use whole-milk ricotta)
- 1 pkg vanilla sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 pkg vanilla pudding powder
- Fresh whipped cream and berries for garnish, optional but recommended
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9" round springform pan. Add in a parchment round, then liberally grease the parchment round and sides of pan.
- For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine ⅔ cup butter, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 1 egg and the flour with a spoon until combined. Press into the bottom of the pan and lightly up the sides of the pan.
- For the cheesecake filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together remaining butter and the remaining granulated sugar with the paddle attachment until creamy, about 1 minute. Separate the eggs - one bowl of whites, and one bowl of egg yolks, and add in the egg yolks to the cheesecake batter one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the quark or ricotta. Beat in the vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice, followed by the vanilla pudding powder. Set aside briefly.
- In another stand mixer bowl, beat the egg whites until stiffened, about 5-7 minutes. Fold the stiff egg whites into the cheesecake batter until fully incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour, then turn off the oven and crack the door, leaving the cheesecake in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently remove the cheesecake and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 2 hours to set and chill. Serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired.
Light, fluffy, airy cheesecake with a delicate texture and a sweet vanilla flavor! You cannot beat this German käsekuchen!
Have a super sweet day!
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