It’s amazing to me the phenomenal change a simple little adjustment can make to a recipe… take this apricot quark cheesecake for instance. The first time I made it, for some strange reason, I decided to put the apricots on the bottom between the crust and the filling. I thought it would look neat to see them when the cake was sliced. However, it made the cake quite dull and plain looking on top as everything was beige coloured. Now, I’ve had this delectable cake before so I knew it was tasty, but my eyes were like “meh”. Not ok. At least for me. Food needs to not only taste good, but look good too. I want that all encompassing feeling where my eyes widen at the sight of it, my nose flares at the smell of it, and my tastebuds dance in anticipation…. this one with the apricots on top, well, it did it for me. My mouth is literally watering just typing about this cake. 😀
You may be thinking “what the heck is quark?”. Quark is a European-style, soft spreadable cheese. It falls somewhere between cream cheese and ricotta for me, but there really is no comparison. Quark is light and a little tangy and makes for delicious cheesecakes like this one but is equally as tasty mixed with fresh herbs and eaten with baby potatoes straight from the garden. Quark can sometimes be tricky to find. My favourite comes from a cheese maker in Agassiz, BC called Farm House Cheeses. Rocky Mountain Cheese also sells a slightly creamier version that I have found at IGA here on the Sunshine Coast.
Although I haven’t tried making this cheesecake with ricotta or cream cheese, I imagine it would work, but the consistency of the filling would change. The best example I give people when trying to explain the difference that quark makes is that cheesecakes made with cream cheese are heavy, I only ever want a small slice and I need a BIG glass of water to wash it down. Quark cheesecakes are so light and delicate that I always want seconds (and thirds) and don’t need anything to wash it down (although a cup of tea pairs really well).
On that note, who’s coming for tea? 🙂
Apricot Quark Cheesecake with Spelt Flour
- 250 g + ¼ cup organic all purpose, unbleached spelt flour also known as white spelt flour
- 75 g organic sugar
- 180 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 2 19 oz. canned apricots halves
- 454 g quark
- 125 g organic sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 40 g cornstarch or tapioca or arrowroot powder
- 3 large eggs separated
- icing sugar for dusting
Put the quark in cheesecloth or a large coffee filter for 1 hour to drain the excess liquid. Set aside. Pour the canned apricots over a sieve and let the excess liquid drain off. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or large mixing bowl and hand mixer, whip the butter until creamy then add the sugar and salt. Beat until combined. Add the egg and beat again until combined. Mix the flour and baking powder together and then gradually add them and beat until combined. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and grease the bottom and edges of a 26cm spring form pan. Flatten the dough into a disk with your hands and cut away 1/8 of it and set aside to chill in the fridge. Cut away another ¼ of the dough and set aside. Generously dust a work surface with flour and roll out the remaining dough so it is slightly larger than the bottom of the spring form pan (no thinner than a ¼ inch). Lay the bottom of the spring form pan on top, cut away the excess dough with a sharp knife and set the excess dough aside. Lock the sides of the pan to the bottom. Dust the top of the disk of dough with flour, fold in half and lay into the bottom of the spring form pan. Gently press the dough out to the edges with your fingers.
Take the remaining ¼ dough (not the dough chilling in the fridge) and roll it out into a long tube. Take long pieces of the tube and place them along the bottom inside edge of the pan. Press the dough down to connect with the bottom layer and up the edges approximately 2 inches high. Use your fingers or the dull edge of a knife to even out the top edges of the dough. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or large mixing bowl and hand mixer, beat the three egg whites until stiff. Set aside. Beat the three egg yolks, sugar, quark, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch and vanilla extract until combined. Gently fold in the egg whites with a large spatula until just combined. Pour the mixture onto the dough and spread evenly.
Place the apricot halves cut side down side by side on top of the mixture to fill the pan. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove from the oven. Mix the 1/8 chilled dough with ¼ cup of flour and sprinkle it on top of the apricots, then bake for an additional 25 minutes until golden brown.
Let cool for a few hours, then chill in the fridge before serving. Optional: dust finished cake with icing sugar before serving.