Cake is one food item that is loved by people of all ages, ranging from a small kid to an old person. Cakes can be made in many different styles. The basic ingredient remains the same for all but people add few more things to change its taste and its outer look also. Cheese cake, as it is clear from the name itself contains cheese apart from the other basic ingredients.
Cheese cake is not a dish which is very new but is regarded as one of the oldest form of cake that uses dairy product other than milk. It is quite common and popular form of cake. The first real mention of the cheese cake can be traced back to the period of ancient Grecian Olympic Games in the occidental world. Steven Valli was one of the writers who wrote about the preparation of cheese cake in his book De Agri Cultura. There are many varieties of cheese available in the market that can be used in the preparation of the cheese cake. The ones that are worth mentioning here are: ricotta cheese, havarti, quark, twarog and the most common one cream cheese. The other ingredients that are common to any form of cakes are sugar, eggs, cream and fruit. Other than these common ingredients certain other additives such as vanilla flavor, chocolate flavor are also added to give it a new aroma. Fruit toppings such as strawberry can also be added further to give it a beautiful look.
By looking at its name, one may think that cheese cakes are much closer to cake. However, cheese cakes are actually much more similar to custards than to cakes. One thing which you should always take care of is that cheese cake should always be baked at low temperature. Cheese cakes also show a common tendency of getting cracked when cooled. The reason behind this tendency of the cake is the coagulation of the beaten eggs in its batter. However there are several measures that can always be taken to avoid the same. The most common way is to bake the cake in the hot water so as to ensure even heating. The other way that is quite common across the globe is to add a little cornstarch.
In United Kingdom, cheese cakes are used as a cold dessert. The interesting thing about them is that they are neither cooked nor baked. It consists of crumbled digestive biscuits mixed with butter and pressed into dish to form a base layer. As far as the filling is concerned, it is made up of milk, sugar, cheese, cream and gelatin. There are also some myths related with cheese cakes. The most popular of them is that some cultures believe that serving it on someones wedding brings bad luck. Although no one knows from where did it originated. Cheese cake also has one more usage. It is also used to describe the creamy, cheesy flavor of the cake. In this usage, there are cheesecake yogurts, ice creams and cookies. Another category of cheese cakes are termed as savory cheese cakes. It is most often flavored with blue cheese and served as hors doeuvres or accompanying salads.
Most of the countries have their own style of making cheese cake. The Americans rely heavily on cream cheese when preparing cheese cakes. The cream cheese was invented in the year 1872 and from then on it has substituted French Neufchatel. Later on, in the year 1912 James L. Kraft invented pasteurized Philadelphia cream cheese which became the top product for making cheese cakes. In New York, this type of cake was made popular by Lindys and Juniors Deli. The main ingredients used are heavy cream, cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks. The main purpose of adding egg yolks is to add richness and smooth consistency. These cakes are also referred to as Jewish-style. Sometimes cheese and lemon are also added to give it a different texture. In other variations of these cakes people add flavors like chocolate and strawberry to give it a new taste. In Chicago, it is commonly referred to as Elis Cheese cake and is basically a baked cream-cheese version that is firm from outside and quite creamy inside. Pennsylvania Dutch-style is little different as it makes use of a slightly tangy type of cottage cheese which has larger curd content and less of water and is typically termed as farmers cheese.
Sour cream cheese cake is another common category of cheese cake that originated somewhere in the mid 20th century in the United States. It is the most widely used cheese cake recipe outside New York. It was a result of the mass homogenization of milk and the loss of cream as a widely available ingredient. It does not make use of heavy cheese but uses cream cheese. A very interesting property of such a cake is that it can be frozen for short periods of time and that too without ruining its texture. This is precisely the reason why many factory-made cheese cakes use this method.
Romans use honey and ricotta-like cheese for making cheese cakes. Traditionally the cake is shaped into loaves. In some of their recipes one has to use bay leaves which is basically used as preservative. In Italy, these are still baked keeping alive the traditions after the fall of Rome. The Italian cheese cake can also be termed as the modern version of the Roman cheese cake.
Like Romans it still uses ricotta or mascarpone cheese but replaces honey with sugar, omits the bay leaves and adds other ingredients such as vanilla extract. This gives it a much drier look than other versions of it. People also prefer to add small amount of candid fruit to add to its taste. The French Version of Cheese cakes are popular for their light weight. It makes use of gelatin as the binding agent and is usually only to 1 or 2 inches tall. It generally has light texture and its basic flavor comes from the Neufchatel cheese.