Serve this cheesecake with a large spoon, in a dish placed in the centre of the table. It’s a family-style cake and is absolutely irresistible.
In 2006, a few friends got together with a seed of an idea to create a cookbook that would share the best recipes from the best cooks in our food-obsessed community. We started to meet on Monday mornings, and the Monday Morning Cooking Club was born.
We’ve searched, tested, tasted, perfected and shared hundreds of recipes from the Australian and global Jewish community. We found both heirloom masterpieces and contemporary essentials with a common goal to preserve recipes for the future. We have just published our fourth book, Now for Something Sweet.
Growing up in the Jewish community in Australia has helped each of us understand the importance of the family table, and the idea of nurturing and being nurtured through food. We celebrate many festivals each year. And, to us, it is always about the food.
One delicious festival is Shavuot, where we enjoy dairy dishes, and everyone shares, talks about and bakes cheesecake after cheesecake. But we do have a favourite – the South African Cheesecake. This is a cheesecake served with a large spoon, in a dish placed in the centre of the table. It is a family-style cake and it is absolutely irresistible. It is the sort of cake that friends can gather round for afternoon tea. It is the sort of cake you’ll eat straight from the dish standing in the kitchen after your visitors have left. It is a dish that speaks of home. It speaks of community and traditions, of family and friends, and the passing down of recipes.
This cheesecake from our friend Dorryce Rock has a history. In our first book, one of our co-authors Lauren shared a cheesecake recipe which she was known for making so well – it was given to her by Dorryce, her friend’s sister. It was a perfect cake, and there was no need to change it. But when we looked into its history for our fourth book, it turned out Dorryce first received quite a different recipe in South Africa, sometime around 1975, scrawled on a scrap of paper. She has perfected the recipe, we have tested and tasted it and we are now excited to share it.
South African Cheesecake
- 375g plain sweet biscuits, such as Marie or Digestives
- pinch of salt
- 250g unsalted butter, melted
- 8 eggs, separated
- 230g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 750g cream cheese, at room temperature, chopped
- 150ml pure (35%) cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C. You will need a deep 3-litre baking dish.
To make the cheesecake base, put the biscuits and salt in a food processor and process until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the butter, then pulse to combine. Tip the mixture into the baking dish and press it evenly into the base and up the sides.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy, adding the sugar gradually. Add the cream cheese one-third at a time, and beat on high speed to ensure there are no lumps. On medium speed, slowly add the cream and beat until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks start to form. Using a spatula or metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, one-third at a time, then pour the mixture into the prepared crust.
Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top (probably with cracks), but still quite wobbly.
Turn the oven off and leave it to set in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature. To serve, scoop with a large spoon straight from the baking dish to a plate. Refrigerate the leftovers – if there are any!
This recipe was first published in Edition #608.
Photo by Alan Benson.