cheesecake, homemade cheesecake, make cheesecake from scratch

Make Cheesecake from Scratch

I like to do things “from scratch.” At least I want to know how to do and make things from the most basic steps onward.  A lot of times knowing saves me time and money. For years it sometimes crossed my mind that I’d like to learn how to make cheesecake from scratch. This summer I finally got around to  trying it. There are recipes online (here’s a good one), but my idea of “scratch” generally goes a bit farther than other people’s idea. You see, most people start with the ingredients, say, for instance, the cheese. We aim to make the cheese from our own homegrown milk.

The most basic part of a cheesecake is the … cheese.

That’s right, cheesecake is made with cheese. I read that quark was first used to make cheesecake. Quark is probably the most primitive, basic cheese out there. I make it by simply inoculating milk with buttermilk culture and letting it set a couple days at room temperature. The milk curdles, making solids and whey, and can be strained through a cheesecloth lined colander.  A gallon of milk will make about 1/3 gallon of quark. Quark has a bit more texture to it than Greek yogurt and a slightly sharper flavor. My first cheesecake experiments were done with quark and they were good. Later I experimented, using Greek yogurt. I liked it even better.

Quark and Greek yogurt are both good for making cheesecake.

Cheesecake made with Greek yogurt was smoother in texture. Did you know that Homesteading Edu has a course on making yogurt? Our course tells you how to make yogurt from scratch. It even teaches you even how to start your own yogurt starter. Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt with more of the liquid strained out. It makes a great base for cheesecake.

straining greek yogurt, colander over bucket
A colander set over a pail or pot is the basic set up for converting regular yogurt into Greek yogurt.

Article: Lessons Learned from Dairy

colander lined with cheesecloth, straining Greek yogurt
Here’s the same set up now with cheesecloth in place.

A really basic cheesecake recipe

I experimented with a number of variations, finally settling on the absolute simplest recipe. It has no frills at all yet tastes great.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vainilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar (depending on your taste)

That’s it! I found that I prefer it less sweet than any store bought cheese cake. That way I can add a topping without getting overpowered by the sugar. Also, I came down on using a regular white flour based crust, which I can throw together myself (from scratch). The traditional graham cracker crust just adds too much sugar.

Cooking procedure:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Mix up all the ingredients using a wooden spoon or spatula.
cheesecake filling
Just dump the ingredients together and mix!
  • Pour the filling into a pie crust
cheesecake ready to bake
Ready to bake!
  • Bake until the top develops a few brown spots and filling is firm.
baked cheesecake
Notice the browned spots. Another indication that it’s done is that it show absolutely no sign of “pouring” if tipped.
  • Upon removing from the oven, cool the cheesecake and then place it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Chilling greatly improves its texture.

This is a super easy recipe. By making it less sweet, my cheesecake seemed more like “food,” and less like dessert. I did enjoy topping it with blueberry preserves, though it’s good as is. Experiment and decide for yourself, how sweet you want your cheesecake. That’s something you can’t do with store bought!

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