German Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

by Heidi Obermeyer

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On Saturday I bought some strawberries at the market at Hackescher Markt. Up to that point, it had been a happy and productive day- I opened a new bag of coffee for breakfast time, rode my bike in town without being killed by a crazy Berlin driver, and shipped a package back to the States. But then I bought the strawberries. As I walked back to my bike with the strawberries in one hand and my keys in the other, I was thinking, “Oh yeah. Sophisticated Berlinerin coming through folks. Watch out tour groups! Yes, please, excusez-moi, I do need to get to my bike. Oh why yes, I do live here!” And then I got on my bike and pedaled away just loving the sophistication of my Saturday market-shopping-moment.

And that’s when the strawberries decided to make a run for it, out of the bag and all over inside my bike basket. I glanced down as I navigated though traffic, unsure if it would be of any use to even bother putting them back into the plastic containers that had tipped over so easily in the first place. I decided to just get home as fast as I could and avoid as many cobblestoned street sections as possible, which tend to be particularly bumpy.

Note to self: Avoiding cobblestoned street sections is impossible in Berlin.

Additional note to self: You better have a damn good strawberry-utilizing recipe on hand when you successfully damage 2 entire containers of strawberries in 1 10-minute bike ride. And one that you can make fast, too, because those babies are already on life support just sitting on the counter and are going to be goners within 24 hours, max.

So once I brought my juicy bags of strawberries up to my apartment (without getting any on my white shirt, which partially recouped my losses for the day) I decided to roast them like I had in the past when I made this roasted strawberry buttermilk cake recipe from Joy the Baker. The cheesecake (or more specifically, the quark-cake) was already on the agenda for today, so instead of the peaches I was planning on adding the strawberries took center stage.

I’ve never made a cheesecake before, but this one just might have me making more of them- it’s light, fluffy, and much less sweet than traditional American cheesecakes. Quark isn’t usually available in the United States, so be aware that this will taste much different than its U.S. counterpart. You can find substitutions for quark here. The roasted strawberries recipe can be adjusted slightly to accommodate however many you plan to roast- it’s a pretty flexible recipe and tastes nice with a lot of leeway on ingredient amounts.

I baked my version for the recommended 75 minutes, although I like my cheesecake a little on the well-baked side and could have left it in for another 10 or 15. I also covered the cake right at the 40 minute mark, but again, depending on your desired level of brown crust, one could cover the cake at any time after the 40 minute mark. If you’re feeling extra lazy, a graham cracker crust might be nice instead of the crust recipe listed below.

Also… cheesecake is just awesome. Always. Especially with strawberries.

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German Cheesecake with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries

(adapted from Joy the Baker and Brigitte.de)

You will need a 29-cm (9-inch) springform pan.

For the cheesecake base:

250 grams all-purpose flour

60 grams sugar

125 grams butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg

1 packet of vanilla sugar, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

extra flour (for rolling out the crust)

extra butter (for greasing the pan)

For the filling:

2 eggs

200 grams sugar

1 lemon- both juice and zest

500 grams quark

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 packet of vanilla pudding powder (40 grams)

500 grams heavy whipping cream

powdered sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). To make the base, combine dry ingredients. Add egg and butter. knead together all ingredients until you have a smooth dough. Form into a disc and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out and place in the cake pan so that the crust goes about 3 cm (1.5 in) up the side of the pan. Put back in the refrigerator while you assemble the filling.

To make the filling, combine sugar and eggs with a mixer until smooth. Add vanilla pudding powder, juice of 1 lemon, lemon zest and quark and mix until smooth. Add heavy cream and mix until smooth. Pour filling into crust. The filling will go above the edges of your crust, which is desirable.

Bake for 75 total minutes (or a little longer) on the bottom rack of the oven, covering the top of the cake with baking paper at some point of your choosing after the 40 minute mark when the top has reached your desired level of doneness.

To let the cake cool once it’s done, turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. This lets out the moisture and heat slowly and reduces the likelihood of cracks forming. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing the baking paper and springform edge. Put on a serving plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional but obviously awesome) and enjoy with roasted strawberries spooned over top.

For the roasted strawberries:

400 grams strawberries, hulled and cut in halves or quarters

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey (JTB uses maple syrup instead)

2 spoonfuls balsamic vinegar

2 pinches of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Mix all ingredients except the strawberries together in a small bowl. Coat the strawberries with the mixture and bake in a single layer on a baking sheet for ~40 minutes or until juices thicken (but don’t burn). Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

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