What Is Cheesecake?

Cheese and cake. Cake and Cheese. These are two of the most popular food items on the planet. While some are filled with whipped cream, with a jam-like fruit mixture, others are more humble and traditional with their biscuit base, crumbly crust, and creamy texture.

When we consider that historians have found that cheese was being enjoyed by our ancestors as far back as 2,000 BC, it is no surprise that cheesecake recipes have become evermore popular throughout the generations.

It is believed that cheesecake was introduced in Ancient Greece and that this sweet dessert, consisting of a creamy filling and cookie crumbs, was actually fed to the participants in the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C.

It is also believed that Greek wives made and handed out cheesecake to their wedding guests around the same time. (That’s a tradition that needs to come back!)

Today, simply mention the word cheesecake and many hungry people will be salivating at the thought of the sweet flavored, dense dessert.

Are you hungry for some cheesecake now? So are we! But, before we both run off to the store and treat ourselves to, in our opinion, one of the best desserts out there, we want to discuss the different types of cheesecakes available.

From cream cheese to cottage cheese, and different flavors, such as strawberry, we are going to take a ride through the world of this popular thick pie.

Let’s get started before we get too hungry!

Cream Cheesecake

If you ask most Americans, they will associate a cheesecake with a cream cheese base. This is because cream cheese is the main ingredient in most modern day cheesecakes.

Founded in 1872 by William Lawrence, an American dairyman, creamy cheese was an accident after he tried to recreate the French cheese, Neufchâtel. By 1880, Lawrence had begun distributing his new-found cheese throughout New York.

By the year 1903 came by, Phoenix Cheese Company purchased Lawrence’s business. And, here began the famous Philadelphia trademark. Then, in 1912, James L. Kraft accidentally made pasteurized cheese for the first time.

Before long, pasteurized Philadelphia Brand cream cheese was available. And, to this day, this is the most used type used for cheesecakes.

So, cheesecakes made from creamy cheese have a relatively short history, especially compared to those made in Ancient Greece, but, a debate rages on. Are cheesecakes actually cakes or pies? Let’s find out.

Cheese Cake Or Cheese Pie?

Although it is traditionally known and referred to as a cake, cheesecake is, fundamentally, a pie. Because it is usually unleavened and tends to have a crust (whether that is baked or not), a cheesecake has to be considered a pie.

The majority of baked cheesecakes are made with a custard filling. These typically consist of eggs, milks, salt, sugar, and certain flavorings, such as vanilla or strawberries. The style of a cheesecake can be however you like it to be.

However, the traditional cheesecake recipe included creamy cheese but it still allows for some variation in how its crust is made. You can add different flavorings, such as chocolate, and various toppings from nuts to fruits, if you like.

There is one common misconception about this popular pastry, too. A cheesecake does not have to be sweet. Take the Quiché, for instance.

This French classic is, for all intents and purposes, a savory type of cheesecake. In fact, travel throughout Europe and the United States and you will find savory cheese pies in many forms.

Popular Cheesecakes

So, let’s take a look at some popular examples of cheesecake. Whether they have curd or cream cheese, the two following examples are beloved in many regions of the world.

Traditional Greek Cheesecake

The traditional Greek cheesecake is typically made with ricotta cheese. But, if you want to experience the authentic, real deal, you should look for mizithra or anthotyros Greek cheeses. These are made from either sheep or goat’s milk.

These types of cheesecake tend to be unsalted with honey added as a sweetener, too. You may also find that some put flour directly into the cheese and honey combination before baking, whereas others will just use the crust. Whichever you come across, we are sure you will enjoy Greek cheesecake.

And, we’re back to the cream cheese cheesecake. If you grew up in America, this is the type of cheesecake you will be most familiar with.

At the base of these sugar filled treats are usually a crust that is made from flakes of Graham crackers or other examples of cookies, such as Oreos on a chocolate cheesecake.

These are typically blended with butter and mixed into the base of a mold or pan. For cakes that have a custard base, they must always be baked.

However, over the years, countless recipes have transformed the humble cheesecake into something far more exciting with richer ingredients, like sour cream, heavy cream, or even Greek Yogurt.

Place these in your refrigerator and they firm up wonderfully. Many refer to this type as a no-bake cheesecake.

Different Types Of Cheesecake

We could go on and on, listing the different types of cheesecakes available in various countries. But, we have selected some of the most popular from around the world for you to find and try for yourself one day!

Here they are:

  • French cheesecake (tarte au fromage)
  • Bavarian baked cheesecake
  • German cheesecake (Käsekuchen)
  • Dutch cheesecake (kwarktaart)
  • New York–style cheesecake with strawberries
  • Romanian cheesecake
  • Japanese no-bake cheesecake with strawberry sauce

There are also some fruit varieties of cheesecake available too, such as:

  • Blueberry and mixed-fruit cheesecake
  • New York–style cheesecake with berries
  • No-bake cheesecake with orange jelly
  • Cheesecake with mango
  • Lemon cheesecake
  • Raw-food strawberry cheesecake

In Summary

The humble cheesecake has been popular in different societies for thousands of years. With so many varieties now available, why not try as many as you can and see which is your favorite. But, we can guarantee that you won’t be able to stop at one cheesecake!

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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