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Best Authentic German Cheesecake (Käsekuchen)

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This German Käsekuchen (German Cheesecake) is made with Quark and has a hint of lemon. One bite and you’ll swear you’re in Germany!

There are many variations of German cheesecake. This version is light, fluffy, and has a crust. If you’re looking for a denser cheesecake or a simpler and faster one without a crust, check out my easy Crustless German cheesecake recipe.

Ready to make German cheesecake? Great! But don’t get out the cream cheese! This cheesecake is made with Quark.

Huh? What’s Quark?!

Quark is super popular in Germany and other parts of Europe but much less so in the US. It’s starting to catch on here in the US, though, and I’m so excited about that because I LOVE Quark!

I use it all the time in my baking, cooking, for breakfast, healthy snacks, an easy dessert…so many things.

So what is Quark? It’s is a fresh, soft, un-aged cheese. Quark has a texture similar to a thick Greek yogurt but tastes less tart. It’s also high in protein and is delicious spread on toast, combined with fresh berries (both make an excellent breakfast) or in lots of German desserts and baked items.

Using Quark in recipes that call for it (rather than using a substitute) will make your recipes more authentic and often healthier!

Where Can I Buy Quark?

It used to be SO hard to buy Quark in the US. Like, almost impossible. But now there’s Wünder Quark! They make authentic European-style Quark in both plain (great for baking) and several delicious flavors (perfect for everything else).

I stumbled across Wünder Quark while grocery shopping a few months ago and jumped for joy when I tried their strawberry Quark because it tasted just like what I used to eat in Germany.

When I saw that they also made plain Quark, I reached out to them to see if we could work together. I’m excited to partner with them so I can help you make your recipes more authentic and even more delicious!

You can find Wünder Quark at grocery stores around the US (use their store locator to find one near you) and you can now order it online! It’s super easy to order both plain and flavored Quark and then have it shipped right to your house.

My Quark arrived cold and in perfect condition. It shipped quickly, and love that you can reuse the ice packs and packing material or recycle it. (My husband took the plastic off to recycle the packing material and decided to use some to make his office chair more comfy!)

You can order both large (24oz) and small (5oz) plain Quark or 5oz cups in several flavors. All of the flavors I’ve tried so far have been delicious but my favorite is coffee. OMG, it’s amazing.

Wünder Quark has a shelf-life of 1.5 months in the fridge so you can stock up and have Quark at the ready when you want to do some baking or just enjoy a healthier breakfast, snack or dessert!

Click here to order Wünder Quark!

Can I Make German Quark at Home?

Yes, you can (here are my step-by-step homemade Quark directions)! I’ve done it loads of times. It’s pretty easy but you do need to allow 2-3 days for it to set and drain, and it can be kinda messy.

So you definitely need to plan ahead and make sure you have the tools you need and room in your fridge. What I do now is keep a couple tubs of Wünder in my fridge so I can bake at a moment’s notice!

Are There Any Substitutes for Quark?

I always recommend using Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese. I’ve used both. That said, using real Quark does make a difference and I recommend making or buying authentic European Quark cheese if at all possible.

Tell Me About the Crust for This Quark Cheesecake

Put the graham cracker crumbs back in the cupboard! Unlike most cheesecakes in the US, German cheesecake uses a short crust instead of graham cracker or cookie crumbs. The crust in this recipe is so tender, lightly sweet, and has a slight lemon flavor due to the lemon zest. It’s delicious!

How Should I Serve this Cheesecake?

I serve it with fresh whipped cream and sometimes also fresh berries on the side. It also tastes great with a dusting of powdered sugar or just by itself!

For next time I’m thinking about making a berry topping using Rote Grütze, which is another amazing German dessert. I’ll have to make a whole new cheesecake to try that, though, because this cheesecake didn’t last but a couple days.

If you’re looking for a new cheesecake to try or are just hungry for a taste of Germany, try this authentic German cheesecake!

What You Need for this German Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
  • Lemon zest
  • Butter (cold and room temperature)
  • Egg + egg yolks
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Quark (or alternative)
  • Corn starch
  • Egg whites (beaten to stiff peaks)

Equipment:

  • Mixing bowls
  • Stand mixer (or hand mixer)
  • Spatula
  • Scale or measuring cups/spoons
  • Flour sifter
  • Zester/microplane
  • Whisk
  • Springform pan

How to Make German Cheesecake with Quark

This recipe has 5 steps:

  1. Make the crust
  2. Make the filling
  3. Bake the cheesecake
  4. Chill the cheesecake
  5. Eat cheesecake! ?

To make the crust, sift the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the baking powder, salt, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract). Whisk to combine.

Then cut the cold butter into small pieces and add it to the flour. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until it resembles crumbs.

Add the beaten egg and form into a dough. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour.

After the dough has chilled, form it into a disc, press down on it a few times with your rolling pin to flatten it out, and then gently roll it out on a floured surface. If the dough is very crumbly and hard to work with, form it back into a disk and gently roll it out again. Just don’t overwork the dough.

Transfer dough to a prepared 9-inch springform pan. (See photos above for how to fold and transfer the dough to the springform pan.) Use your fingers to press the dough so it evenly covers the bottom and goes half way up the sides of the pa. Store in the fridge while you make the filling.

Make the Filling

First, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla sugar until pale. Add softened butter and continue beating until well combined. Add the heavy cream and beat again.

Add the Quark (or alternative) and beat one more time until everything is thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl beat egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites and sifted cornstarch into cheesecake batter. Pour cheesecake batter into the springform pan.

Bake on 300F/150C for 60-70 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the edges are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. I always check my cheesecake at 50 minutes and continue baking in 5 or 10 minute increments. The center of the cheesecake will be a bit wiggly and it will fall as it cools – that’s normal. 

After the cheesecake has cooled for a few minutes, carefully run a knife around the edge to prevent the crust from sticking to the springform pan. Let the cheesecake cool on the counter for an hour and then several hours in the fridge. It’s best to make this cheesecake the day before you plan to serve it.

Serve with freshly whipped cream and berries (optional). Enjoy!

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Authentic German Cheesecake

Authentic German Cheesecake

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 1 hour 11 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 41 minutes

Looking for a new cheesecake recipe? Hungry for a taste of Germany? Try this authentic German cheesecake!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Filling

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp extract)
  • 6 tbsp butter (room temp)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups quark (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

Crust

  1. Combine sifted flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla sugar or extract. 
  2. Cut in the cold butter. Add the beaten egg and then use your hands to form into a dough. 
  3. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  4. After the dough has chilled, form it into a disc and then roll it out on a floured surface. Shape dough into a disc again, and roll it out once or twice more. I found the dough very crumbly and hard to work with at first, but after I rolled it out twice, it became much easier to work with. 
  5. Roll dough out once more and then transfer to a prepared 9-inch springform pan. (See photos above for how to fold and transfer the dough to the springform pan.) Use your fingers to press the dough so that it evenly covers the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan. 

Filling

  1. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla sugar until pale. Add softened butter and continue beating until well combined. Add the heavy cream and beat again. Add quark (or Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese) and beat one more time until everything is thoroughly combined.
  2. Beat egg whites and salt to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Fold egg whites and sifted cornstarch into cheesecake batter. 
  3. Pour cheesecake batter into a 9-inch springform pan and bake on 300F for about 60 minutes. (My cheesecake needed 70 minutes.) The cheesecake is done when the edges are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. The center of the cheesecake will be a bit wiggly and it will fall as it cools - that's normal. 
  4. Let the cheesecake cool on the counter for an hour and then several hours in the fridge. It's best to make this cheesecake the day before you want to serve it. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 234mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1gSugar: 24gProtein: 10g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Big thanks to Wünder Quark for sponsoring the update I made to this recipe to make it even more authentic.

Disclaimer: The International Desserts Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for supporting my site and helping me make it the best international desserts and travel resource on the internet!

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Catherine Kasper

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

I've looked for this recipe for years. Thank you so very much. I grew up in a very German neighborhood in Milwaukee and those women certainly knew how to bake. Unfortunately, I never thought to ask for their recipes. I have not had cheesecake this wonderful since all the family run bakeries across the metro area went out of business. The flavors take me back. I use the farmer's cheese and it works just fine. Tastes divine. Texture is divine too!

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

I'm so glad you liked it! Isn't it fantastic when you can make something that you have such fond memories of? :)

Pam

Sunday 6th of December 2020

I’m curious what the difference is for using corn starch versus German imported instant vanilla pudding mix? Does the corn starch in your recipe stand-in for the pudding mix? I have a recipe from All Recipes that I used to make cheesecake before I found your recipe that used the instant vanilla pudding. I was fortunate to be able to get those ingredients (vanilla sugar, pudding mix, and Quark) from the German grocery and bakery in my city.

Erika

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

@Pam, I haven't tried this recipe yet but have one from my german family which said to use instand vanilla pudding - unfortuntely, german vanilla pudding powder and American instand pudding powder are different in that ours starts to set in a few minutes while the german kind sets while it bakes. It made my cheesecake scrambled, so I'm going to try switching out for cornstarch which sets in the oven.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

There are lots of German cheesecake variations. :) Cornstarch is supposed to help with thickening the cheesecake and preventing cracking (but I still sometimes get small cracks). Vanilla pudding would add a little more flavor. I haven't used it in this cheesecake but I do use a little in my Bee Sting Cake recipe. I imagine you could use pudding powder in this cheesecake recipe. I use corn starch mostly because I always have it in my pantry, whereas I don't always have pudding powder (and I don't have German pudding powder). But now I want to remake it and try the pudding powder! So many variations to test out! I'd love to hear how it turns out if you try it.

Tristan

Saturday 5th of December 2020

This came out perfectly and took me back 40 years when I was in Germany (West then.). The recipe is simple, yet the result is far superior to the typical American heavy cheese cake. This one is light and flavorful. I did find non-fat quark at the German deli, but it still was ausgezeichnet. Vielen Dank!

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Bitte schön! :) I'm so glad you liked it.

German Quark Recipe, Tips for Making Homemade Quark & How to Make Blackberry Dessert Quark - International Desserts Blog - Dessert, Sweet & Snack Recipes from Around the World

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

[…] can also use plain Quark in your cooking and baking recipes – like in German Quark Cheesecake or German Plum […]

Barbara

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

We’re going on a short trip in our travel trailer. I’ll make the cheesecake at home. As long as I slide a knife around the sides of the springform pan after it’s cooled, do you think it’ll be okay to separate the pan after we get where we’re going? This will be the fourth one I’ve made with your recipe - we love it!

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

Yep, that should work fine! I'm so glad you like it!

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Disclaimer: The International Desserts Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for supporting my site and helping me make it the best international desserts and travel resource on the internet!