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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

SYRNYK (Cheesecake)

When we visited our cousins in Ukraine, Miroslava went to no end of trouble with our breakfast.

 For sure, she served chicken noodle soup and vareniki, but, you name it, it was probably on the table that morning .

The most irresistible dish for me was Miroslava’s elaborately decorated Cheesecake.   


                             Alexander, Miroslava, their granddaughter, my brother, and I

According to Catherine Atkinson, a Raisin Cheesecake is a Ukrainian dessert that is an Easter specialty.

Cousin Marilyn wrote: "I actually prefer cottage cheese in my cheesecake, with fresh strawberries or other fresh fruit , you would love it too! I do remember Grandma making the cottage cheese cake with raisins."

I am not as much a fan, however, of cheesecakes made with ricotta cheese as of those made with cream cheese.  
  
Does anyone remember those wonderfully tart and creamy Eaton’s cheesecakes that you could buy in their Winnipeg Foodhall or Restaurants?  

 I’ve spent years experimenting with different recipes trying unsuccessfully to duplicate that Eaton’s Portage Avenue Cheesecake.
  
 Finally, Bryan and I have just developed a recipe for cheesecake that pleases us.   We gave it a fresh lemon topping that harmonizes with the slightly tart cheesecake.   This topping was inspired by a recipe in Grandma Rose's Book of Sinfully Delicious Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Cheese Cakes, Cake Rolls & Pastries by Rose Naftalin. 


However, its base was not so great.   I love butter pastry but have not yet found or developed a reliable shortcrust recipe.

Our cheesecake was made with Catherine Atkinson’s butter crust, but the dough was rather dry and the finished crust was tough.  Next time I make it, I’ll use more butter and water. 

A graham cracker crust would work, but I think another really good choice would be to use Suburban Grandma’s vanilla cookie base.  



MEMORIES OF PORTAGE AVENUE CHEESECAKE

1 cup whipping cream
500 g cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

  1.  Prepare the base for the cheesecake in a pie plate or springform pan.
  2. Soften cream cheese by leaving it on the counter for at least an hour.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla.
  4. In another large bowl, beat the whipping cream to the soft peak stage.
  5. Beat the whipping cream into the cream cheese.
  6. Pour the filling into the base and refrigerate for several hours until firm.
  7. Prepare lemon topping or use your own favorite topping.   (e.g. Cherry pie filling was used on the Eaton’s Cheesecake.) 
LEMON TOPPING

½ cup sugar
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup boiling water
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp lemon juice
grated rind of 2 lemons

1.      Put water on to boil in a kettle.
2.      Separate eggs and reserve yolks in a medium bowl.
3.      Mix together cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.
4.      Using a wire whisk, add boiling water to the saucepan.
5.      Stir until thick and smooth.
6.      Add butter to the sauce.
7.      Stir some hot sauce into the egg yolks.
8.      Stir all the egg yolks into the saucepan and cook for 3 minutes.
9.      Blend in lemon juice and rind and set aside to cool completely.
10.  Spread on the cheesecake and refrigerate.