If you’ve been following us for a while, you have probably seen how we love food and cooking. And if any of you have traveled around the world, you know that trying different foods is one of the best ways to learn about different cultures. So we want to invite you into our Israeli kitchen, so you can experience the tastes of Israel and at the same time learn about Israeli culture. Put your apron on and let’s hop into the kitchen!
In honor of Shavuot, we want to share with you a recipe for a classic Israeli cheesecake. But let’s first start with a short history of Shavuot. This holiday is also known as the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. It is a Jewish celebration exactly 50 days after Passover and commemorates when God gave Moses the 10 commandments. During this holiday, God commanded the Jewish people to celebrate with the first fruits of the wheat harvest.
“On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”
In the modern culture of Israel today, there are several traditions during this holiday. Many celebrate the first night of Shavuot with two meals because in Leviticus it says to give two loaves of bread as a first fruit offering to the Lord. Therefore, the first meal they have is all dairy and after waiting, then they will have a second meal with meat. It is also tradition to go to the synagogue and stay up through the night reading the book of Ruth.
As you walk the streets throughout Israel leading up to Shavuot, you will see that the main traditional food for this holiday is dairy recipes. Many believe this is because the nation of Israel is known as the land of milk and honey. So to help you celebrate Shavuot in the best way, we want to give you one of our favorite dairy recipes. In our opinion there is no Shavuot holiday meal without the star of the show — cheesecake.
There are a variety of cheesecakes in Israel. Some have a crust made of crushed cookies and some are topped with cream, fruit, or with additional cookie crumbs. Some are encased in dough. Some are baked and some are not. And there are many different varieties of cheeses used inside the cake, as well.
The classic Israeli cheesecake is airy and light with no crust. This is very different from the famous New York cheesecake. However, it is also very tasty. This crustless cheesecake is very famous in Israel and it takes some skill to produce a tall one without cracks. Every family has its own go-to recipe, and we found this one that we really like.
As we will be sharing many more recipes with you, we thought there was no better recipe to start with, than with dessert. We hope that you’ll enjoy making this recipe! Send us your comments and tell us how your cheesecake turned out.
7 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder
20 gr vanilla sugar (or 1 1/3 Tbsp sugar + 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
5 Tbsp cornstarch
750 gr Skyr cheese
200 ml (or 204 gr) sour cream
Pinch of salt
Butter for pan
Prepare the baking pan:
1. Grease the bottom and sides of a spring-form pan (22 cm in diameter) with butter. Trace a circle of the pan on baking paper, making it slightly larger. Cut it out and place it on the bottom of the pan. Press the parchment circle to the inside of the pan and slightly up the sides all around until it is completely covered. (It’s important that the whole bottom is covered with baking paper in order to extract the cake in its entirety.) Generously grease the top of the parchment well with butter.
Make the cheesecake:
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F.
3. Separate the eggs into two bowls.
4. In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, the cheese, and the sour cream into a smooth mixture.
5. Sift the pudding powder, vanilla sugar, and cornstarch into the cheese mixture. Mix well with a whisk, until the batter is smooth.
6. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt. When the foam begins to form, add the sugar in 3-4 batches while whipping. Continue until a very stable, white, and shiny foam is obtained.
7. Pour a third of the egg white mixture into the cheese mixture and fold from bottom to top in a wrapping motion. Add another third and continue until combined. Add the rest of the foam and fold in a wrapping motion.
8. Pour the mixture into the pan and gently knock it on the counter to level the batter. Cover the bottom of the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.
9. Place a large baking pan on the lowest rack in the oven and fill it halfway with boiling water. Place the cheesecake pan inside it. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 150°C/300°F and continue baking for another 45-60 minutes. The cake is ready when it’s golden on top. It’s important not to open the oven throughout the baking time to avoid cracks.
10. Turn the oven off, and leave the cake in the oven for at least 30 minutes to let it rest and stabilize completely.
11. Take the cake out to cool completely for at least two hours at room temperature.
Remove the cake from the pan:
12. After cooling the cake on the counter for 2 hours, place the face of a plate or platter on the pan. Then lift and turn it over. Take another plate (the plate you want to place your cake) and place it on top of the cake. Lift and turn it over again, so that the face of the cake is on top.
13. Place the cake in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. It’s recommended to prepare the cake a day in advance. The cake is best served very cold. You can top it with berries or whipped cream. Slice and enjoy!
We hope you enjoy this delicious cake.
Blessings from Jerusalem!