Ukrainian Cheesecake is much different than the one most Americans are used to, because it uses a type of farmers/cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. It is less heavy, but stronger tasting.
Making Ukrainian cheesecake is extremely simple, and is quite unusual for those who don’t live in Eastern Europe. The best thing about it is not having to worry about it cracking like with a New York style cheesecake. Ukraine actually has two main schools of cheesecake thought. One is the syrnyky style, which does not have a crust and has edges that are completely caramelized. This is most often the cheesecake you get if you are eating a slice at a coffee shop. However the one I like more is a more homestyle version, made with a buttery crust with caramelized edges and is much richer in my opinion than the former.
This Ukrainian cheesecake is filled with cherries which is quite common in the country, however probably even more common is raisins. I’m not a fan of raisins, so this recipe won’t have them, but if you like them feel free to substitute the cherries for raisins, or nothing at all if you just want to eat it plain. If you make this cake during the holidays, dry fruits are more common, but that does not mean you have to use them as a hard and fast rule.
This cheesecake is popular in Ukraine, and pairs well with coffee and is usually eaten in the afternoon as a snack.
- 800 grams Cottage Cheese; known here as home cheese or farmer’s cheese. Similar to quark but a bit more dense.
- 7 Eggs
- 300 grams Sugar
- 600 grams Flour
- 250 grams Butter, chilled
- 1 tsp Vanilla Powder, can use vanilla extract as a substitute.
- 500 grams Cherries; pitted (optional)
How To Make Ukrainian Cheesecake
In a large bowl add the eggs and cheese along with 100 grams (half cup) of the sugar and all the vanilla powder/extract. Mash everything together until you get a homogeneous mixture. It doesn’t need to be silky smooth, but it should be fairly creamy.
In another bowl add the flour and chilled chopped butter. I like to freeze my butter and then run it through a cheese grater. Add in the rest of the sugar and start to knead the mixture with your hands.
The dough should look like the picture above. It will hold together, but just barely. It is almost like a shortbread dough, very very crumbly.
Take a baking pan (this is 9x13x4) and line it with plastic baking liner. This is something I have never heard of before, but apparently the plastic doesn’t melt in the oven. It also makes it really easy to remove the Ukrainian cheesecake from the pan.
Press the dough into the pan using your fingers. The dough may seem pretty dry, but it will absorb a ton of moisture from the cheese and fruit. Just press down a thin layer and try to push against the edges as well. You don’t need it to go up a lot, but a nice edge makes the finished cake look great.
Place the cherries directly on the dough and spread them around evenly. If you are using a different fruit, spread it around in the same way.
Next spoon over all of the cheesecake filling and smooth it out. We don’t want to mix the cherries into the cheesecake filling because they will get crushed and not be as pretty. So just add the filling in big globs like shown above and then smooth it out with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Finally take the rest of the cherries (or other fruit) and spread them over the top of the cheesecake. If you aren’t using fruit you can sprinkle some granulated sugar over the entire cheesecake which will give a nice “burnt” sugar look. However I much more prefer the fruit pieces.
Place the cheesecake in an oven preheated to 200 Celsius and bake for 35-45 minutes. Make sure to watch your oven while it bakes and pull it out when the edges caramelize like in the picture below.
Special thanks to commenter Kristina for teaching me the touch trick: After you pull the cheesecake out of the oven touch the surface with the back of a spoon (or your finger) and if nothing pulls off then it is done!
After you remove the cheesecake let it rest on the counter for at least a half hour to finish setting. Ukrainian cheesecake isn’t traditionally eaten hot, but you can eat it warm if you want. I personally like to let it cool overnight and then chill in the fridge so it is super cold when I want to eat it with coffee. But that’s just my personal preference.
You can also serve this warm or at room temperature, but you’ll have to be careful removing it from the pan because when it isn’t cold it has a tendency to fall apart. You can garnish this with some powdered sugar, fruit jams/compotes, or more fresh fruit.
- Baking Tray (9x13x4)
- Mixing Bowl
- 800 grams Cottage Cheese known here as home cheese or farmer's cheese. Similar to quark but a bit more dense.
- 7 Eggs
- 300 grams Sugar
- 600 grams Flour
- 250 grams Butter chilled
- 1 tsp Vanilla Powder can use vanilla extract as a substitute.
- 500 grams Cherries pitted, optional
- In a bowl mash together the cheese, eggs, vanilla powder, and 100 grams of sugar until you get a homogeneous mixture.
- In another bowl mix together with your hands the flour, chilled chopped butter, and the rest of the sugar. Use your fingers to break the butter up into the flour and then knead the whole mixture a bit until you get a crumbly mixture. The dough will hold together, but will easily fall apart and this is okay.
- Line a baking pan with plastic baking liner and press the dough into a layer on the bottom with your fingers. Use your fingers to raise the dough a bit on the edges to form a higher crust a bit (it doesn't need to go very high, just a bit.
- Spread half the cherries on the bottom of the pan and then cover with all the cheese mixture. Smooth it out with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
- Cover the top with the rest of the cherries.
- Place in an oven to bake in a convection oven at 200 Celsius for 35-45 minutes, or until you see the edges blacken and caramelize a bit. When you pull it out, touch the surface with the back of a spoon and if nothing pulls off then it is done.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for at minimum a half hour. I like to let it rest for hours and then chill in the fridge, but you can eat it slightly warm. It is necessary to rest for a bit though so the cheese sets and it doesn't fall apart when you remove it (the plastic liner makes it really easy to remove though).