I was only a little intimidated when I asked my German boyfriend’s mother for her kasekuchen recipe. He (extensively) described it as one of his favorite desserts, less decadent and cloyingly sweet than its American counterpart. I’d made a few cheesecakes in my time. How hard could it be?
Panic set in when his mom emailed me her translated kasekuchen recipe, and a note asking for updates on the finished product. I’d never encountered a cheesecake recipe like it before. No graham cracker crust? Only one package of cream cheese? Still, I poured my heart into the project...and encountered my worst baking failure in years. The crust leaked through the spring-form pan and also pooled in the center like an overly large sugar cookie, and I had to tell my partner (and consequently his mom) about it. I tried again and failed three more times. Practice, research, and a few tweaks later, I’m finally producing kasekuchen I’m proud of.
The end result is lighter in texture than traditional dense cheesecake, and not nearly as sweet. It’s a refreshing dessert, and is perfect for a coffee break.
—Hannah Lee Leidy
Test Kitchen Notes
You'll want the rolled-out dough wide enough to “build” a tall crust around the sides of the pan. If needed, take strips of excess dough and line them around the pan’s sides (like patchwork).
- Prep time 40 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Serves 6 to 8
(70 grams) granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
(1 stick) butter
full-fat cream cheese, softened
full-fat Greek yogurt
lemon, zested and juiced
- Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a medium bowl.
- Cut in cubes of cold butter with the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives, until evenly distributed into pea-sized clumps.
- Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix with a spatula or stand mixer until it comes together into a dough.
- Smooth the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and let chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll out the chilled dough 1/4-inch thick on a floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan or pie dish.
- Cover the dough with a sheet of foil or parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights to prevent the crust from bubbling or slouching as it bakes. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or electric hand mixer), cream the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add the Greek yogurt and sour cream, and mix well.
- On medium-low speed, add in the vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and flour, and mix to combine. Then add the eggs one at a time. Stop mixing when the last egg is incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the pre-baked, cooled crust, and bake at 350°F for 70 minutes.
- After 70 minutes, turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in to cool for an hour. This prevents it from cracking as it cools.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool and fully set on a rack (about 4 hours). It’s okay if the cake cracks or gets browner around the edges—this enhances its rustic Old World look.
- Slice and enjoy at room temperature with coffee for an afternoon treat.