Basque cheesecake is a dessert that hails from the Basque Country in Northern Spain. Also known as “tarta de queso al horno,” this dessert has been a staple of the region for many years. It’s not only popular in the Basque Country but also in other parts of Spain and around the world. One of the most famous versions of the cheesecake is the one from the bar La Viña in Donosti, which has become a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
My recipe is based on the classic recipe from the bar La Viña in Donostia (San Sebastian) that appears in one of my favorite cookbooks ever: “Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise” by Marti Buckley.
The history of the Basque Country can be traced back over 5,000 years, with its people, language, and traditions making it a unique and rich cultural area. The Basque Country is also known for its culinary culture, which is a blend of traditional and modern influences. The cuisine of the region is characterized by its use of fresh, local ingredients, with a focus on seafood and meat dishes.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that make up this delicious dessert:
- Sugar: Sugar is a staple ingredient in many desserts, and it’s no different in this recipe. Sugar is used to sweeten the cheesecake, and it also helps to caramelize the exterior of the cake during baking.
- Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is the star of this dessert. It gives the cheesecake its creamy texture and delicious flavor. It’s important to use room-temperature cream cheese to ensure that it mixes well with the other ingredients.
- Salt: A small amount of salt is used to balance out the sweetness of the sugar and cream cheese.
- Eggs: Eggs are an essential ingredient in this recipe. They help to bind the cheesecake together and provide structure to the final product. It’s important to add the eggs one at a time and mix well between each addition.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is used to add richness and creaminess to the cheesecake. It’s important to add the cream slowly to avoid curdling.
- All-Purpose Flour: Flour is used to thicken the cheesecake mixture and give it structure.
To make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Next, prepare a 10-inch springform pan by covering the bottom with a piece of parchment and then attaching and tightening the ring of the pan to hold the parchment in place. Cut a strip of parchment taller than the pan and line the sides with it. Grease the parchment lightly with butter or cooking spray.
In a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar on medium for about 5 minutes. Add salt and eggs one at a time with the mixer on low. Slowly add the heavy cream, and finally, the flour and mix until fully incorporated. It’s crucial to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate any cream cheese that may have gotten stuck. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes until medium-brown and nearly burned-looking. The cake will still have a bit of a wobble. Remove it from the oven and cool it completely on a rack. The center will drop, and a lip will develop on the edges. Finally, remove the springform and serve. This dessert can be served chilled or at room temperature.
In conclusion, Basque cheesecake is a dessert that’s simple to make yet impressive in presentation and flavor. Its rich history and cultural significance make it a beloved dish in the Basque Country and beyond. This recipe, based on the classic recipe from the bar La Viña in Donosti, has been perfected over time and is sure to impress your friends and family. So, go ahead and give it a try.
If you find yourself dining in a Basque restaurant, you may come across a few terms and sayings that are unique to the culture. Understanding these terms can enhance your dining experience and help you appreciate the rich history behind Basque cuisine. Here are a few terms that you might come across in a Basque restaurant:
- Pincho – A pincho is a small snack or tapa that is often served in Basque bars and restaurants. It’s typically served on a slice of bread and can be topped with a variety of ingredients, including ham, cheese, and seafood.
- Txakoli – Txakoli is a light, slightly sparkling white wine that is native to the Basque Country. It pairs well with pintxos and seafood dishes.
- Chuletón – Chuletón is a large ribeye steak that is popular in the Basque Country. It’s often cooked on a grill and served with a side of peppers or potatoes.
- Txistorra – Txistorra is a type of Basque sausage that is made with pork and paprika. It’s often served as a snack or as part of a larger meal.
- Bacalao al pil pil – Bacalao al pil pil is a traditional Basque dish made with salt cod, garlic, and olive oil. It’s often served as a main course and is known for its rich and creamy texture.
If you find yourself enjoying a delicious Basque meal, you may want to compliment the chef or the dish. Here are a few terms that you can use to express your appreciation:
- Oso ona! – This means “very good” in Basque and is a common way to compliment a delicious meal.
- Askatasuna! – This means “freedom” in Basque and is often used to express a sense of liberation or satisfaction after eating a particularly delicious meal.
- Gastronomia – This is the Basque word for “gastronomy” and is often used to describe the rich and diverse culinary culture of the Basque Country.
- Aupa! – This is an exclamation of encouragement in Basque and can be used to express your enthusiasm for a particular dish or ingredient.
By familiarizing yourself with these terms and sayings, you can gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history behind Basque cuisine. Whether you’re dining in a Basque restaurant or cooking at home, these expressions can help you appreciate the rich and unique flavors of this vibrant culinary tradition.
Basque Cheese Cake
Unlike American cheesecakes, there’s no crust to this cake. It’s actually just a few simple ingredients that caramelize in the hot oven to create a crust-like exterior, housing a luxurious and not-too-sweet creamy interior. When cool and settled, this cheesecake is almost impossibly gorgeous. In our house, we’re purists. We only serve this cheesecake chilled with no accompaniments, except perhaps a shot of espresso on the side.
My recipe is based on the classic recipe from the bar La Viña in Donostia (San Sebastian) that appears in one of my favorite cookbooks ever: “Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover's Paradise” by Marti Buckley.
- 1¾ cups sugar 350g
- 2¼ pounds cream cheese, room temperature 1kg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 5 eggs, large
- 2 cups heavy cream 480ml
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour 30g
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by covering the bottom with a piece of parchment and then attaching and tightening the ring of the pan to hold the parchment in place. Cut a strip of parchment taller than the pan and line the sides with it. Grease the parchment lightly with butter or cooking spray.
In a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar on medium for about 5 minutes.
Add salt and eggs one at a time with the mixer on low.
Slowly add the heavy cream, and finally the flour and mix until fully incorporated. It's crucial to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate any cream cheese that may have gotten stuck.
Pour batter into the prepared springform pan.
Bake for 50 minutes until medium-brown and nearly burned-looking. The cake will still have a bit of a wobble.
Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. The center will drop, and a lip will develop on the edges. Remove the springform and serve.
Serve at room temperature or chilled. Condiments aren’t necessary, but lightly sweetened whipped cream and/or a dollop of your favorite jam would be lovely.