September 24, 2020

The history of cheesecake

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I can’t imagine a world without cheesecake. Actually, you’d have to search back to 776 BC, long before the first Cheesecake Factory opened as the Greeks are said to have served cheesecake to the athletes at the first Olympic games. The Romans soon caught on and spread the divine taste of cheesecake throughout Europe. From there it was only a matter of time before European immigrants brought their cherished cheesecake recipes to America and then to the Cayman Islands.

It seems that every region of the globe has embraced cheesecake in one form or another, adapting the recipe to local tastes and adding local flavours. In America, cheesecakes are typically made with a cream cheese base, but even there they vary the recipe by region. Many American bakers add sour cream for a creamy cheesecake that can be frozen without compromising taste or texture.

Italian cheesecakes generally use ricotta cheese, which makes them drier than their American cousins. The French prefer Neufchatel cheese and often add gelatin for a light and airy consistency. The Greeks use ricotta, mizithra, farmers, feta, Swiss, or a combination of cheeses, while the Germans typically rely on cottage cheese or quark. The Japanese incorporate cornstarch and whipped egg whites into their cheesecakes for a more custard-like effect. You can even buy cheesecakes  from vending machines in Japan!

Culinary historians cite cheesecake recipes dating back to the first century AD, with additional recipes floating around from the centuries that followed, but the basic premise of baking creamy cheese with wheat and sweetener, has stood the test of time.

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