RECIPE: Basque cheesecake brings taste of Spain to your table

As a baker, it can be hard to not be an annoyingly reverent Francophile, but my travels to northern Spain this summer made me realize how singular and limiting putting French pastry on a pedestal can be. While croissants and baguettes are glorious, let us not forget the other corners of this world that make amazing and unique bread and pastry.

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Located in the northern coast of Spain, the Basque region has a plethora of food influences that deserve all their own marks. The fresh fish and seafood caught and served daily from the Bay of Biscay are enough to make your head explode, but for me, it was the insanely fresh and creamy sheep, cow and goat milk dairy that really turned this Francophile into an Iberophile.

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After eating some delicious cheese in San Sebastian, I realized it’s that beautiful full fat, uncut with water or other processing methods, that makes all the difference. That fat makes this cheesecake such a decadent yet simple dessert to pull off. Just a hint of sugar, a pinch of vanilla and citrus, and a sprinkling of flour to bind it all together, and you have an amazing dessert that takes about 15 minutes to put together.

Serve this beautiful rustic cake with macerated peaches, stewed apples or maybe even some warm caramel as the weather starts to turn, and you, too, might start researching your next trip to northern Spain.

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Basque Cheesecake

If you want to try something outside of the typical Philadelphia Cream Cheese, head to the newly opened Capella Cheese in Atlanta’s Armour Yards and ask for Catalonian Bauma Madurat. For this recipe, we recommend using 8 ounces Bauma Madurat and 8 ounces of your preferred full-fat American cream cheese.

Basque Cheesecake
  • 1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound full-fat cream cheese at room temperature (see headnote)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a springform pan by lining with parchment and buttering or spraying the parchment. Parchment should hang over the edge to ensure that the cheesecake does not stick to the pan and to give the cheesecake its classic, rustic look.
  • In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together heavy cream, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until well incorporated and there are no lumps, about 2 minutes. The mixture will start to look lighter in color and fluffier. Scrape down sides of the bowl every 30 seconds to ensure sugar is dispersed.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, in 15 second intervals. Beat another minute to aerate mixture to achieve desired soufflé texture.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the heavy cream mixture and mix another 30 seconds. Sift in flour and mix on low 30 seconds more.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60 to 65 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center is slightly jiggly but mostly set.
  • Let cool at least 1 hour before cutting. This cake is best served at room temperature or after refrigerating overnight. When ready to serve, dip a sharp knife in hot water to get cut the cleanest slices.
  • Cake will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to 7 days. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 415 calories (percent of calories from fat, 69), 7 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 32 grams total fat (19 grams saturated), 161 milligrams cholesterol, 358 milligrams sodium.

Sarah Dodge is an Atlanta-based bread baker, pastry chef and baking instructor. She is the owner of Bread is Good, which offers bread subscriptions to the general public and wholesale baked goods to local markets and restaurants.

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