Written down over decades, Nechama Rivlin’s collection of recipes has over 50 cheesecake recipes: from simple and quick-to-prepare cakes using the low-fat cheeses typical of Israel’s first decades, to complex, multi-step recipes that call for high-fat cheese, easily obtained in today’s markets. The plethora of recipes for cheesecake, and its perpetual popularity, testify to the pivotal role of dairy products in Israeli cuisine and identity.
- For the base:
- 8 tablespoons / 100 gr / 1 stick cold butter, cubed
- ¼ cup / 50 gr sugar
- 1 cup / 140 gr flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 yolk (reserve the white for the whipped egg whites)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Oil, for greasing the pan
- For the cheese filling:
- 21 oz / 600 gr fromage blanc (5-9%)
- 6 yolks, at room temperature (reserve the egg whites)
- ¼ cup / 50 gr sugar
- ⅔ cup / 200 ml sour cream
- ¾ cup / 100 gr flour
- 4 tablespoons / 40 gr instant vanilla pudding powder
- Zest of 1 lemon
- For the whipped egg whites:
- 7 egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- ⅔ cup / 130 gr sugar
- Prepare the dough for the base: Pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor until they just come together. Take the dough out and shape into a flat disk, working the dough as little as possible. Wrap in plastic and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 340°F / 170°C and oil a 9-in / 24-cm round springform pan with 2 ½-in / 6-cm high sides. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it between two lightly floured sheets of parchment paper into an 11-in / 28-cm circle. Flip the bottom parchment sheet carefully over the pan so that the dough drops into it and press the dough into the bottom and up the lower sides of the pan (make sure the dough is pressed tightly into the crease between the bottom and the sides with no gaps). Prick the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment and beans or baking weights and blind bake for 20 minutes until the crust is lightly golden. Remove the baking weights and parchment and bake 5 more minutes until set. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool to room temperature. Increase the heat to 425°F / 220°C. Set a deep pan filled with about 3 cups / 240 ml of water on the bottom of the oven.
- Prepare the filling: While the crust is baking, beat the fromage blanc until smooth. Add the yolks, sugar, and sour cream and beat until smooth. Mix in the flour, vanilla pudding powder, and grated lemon zest until combined.
- Prepare the whipped egg whites: Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until foamy, 1 minute. Slowly add in the sugar until stiff peaks form (that remain in the bowl when it’s turned upside down), 3-4 minutes.
- Fold a third of the whipped egg whites into the cheese filling until it is evenly incorporated. Repeat two more times until all the whites have been mixed into the filling. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust, leaving at least ½-in / 1 ¼-cm at the top of the pan.
- Place the pan in the lower third of the oven and bake for 15 minutes minutes until just set and the center is no longer shiny. Remove the pan from the oven, lower the temperature to 300°F / 150°C. Take a butter knife or offset spatula and trace the outside of the cake next to the pan (to release the cake from the sides). Return to the oven and bake for another hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven as soon as it is done baking (or it may sink) and allow it to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate it for at least two hours (the cake is be best after a night in the fridge). The cake keeps covered in the fridge for up to three days.