Cheesecakes are one of the best things in the world, aren’t they? Even reading its name in our article will probably leave you craving for it! Cheesecake is undoubtedly one of the world’s most preferred and beloved desserts.
Most of us around the globe attribute the origins of this creamy delight to the city of New York but its real roots lie further back in time than NYC’s existence. If you want to learn more about it, here’s what you need to know.
Origins of Cheesecake
Some antiquated version of cheesecake was once popular in ancient Greece, way before the Romans conquered them and adopted the delicacy. Many historians and records indicate the presence of cheesecake in the first ancient Olympic Games back in 776 BC.
That said, the earliest verified mention of cheesecake is a Greek book, about the art of making cheesecakes, written by Aegimus, a physician from 5th century BC Greece. One of the earliest recipes about the extant cheesecake exist in a book called De Agri Cultura by Cato the Elder.
This book denotes recipes for cakes used in religious rites and ceremonies. Placenta, libum and savillum are three of them. The presence of placenta with its separately baked crust, being one of the most common forms of modern-day cheesecakes, in an ancient book shows how old the history of cheesecakes is.
An English recipe book from the year 1390 called Forme of Cury mentions one of the more modern versions of cheesecakes called sambocade, prepared using rose water and elderflower. On the basis of this historical record from the book, some chefs and bakers like Heston Blumenthal claim that the credit of inventing the cheesecake goes to the English people.
History of the Modern Cheesecake
It wasn’t until after the 15th century that the name cheesecake became common. Before this period, cheesecake was referred to with different regional names. To give you an idea, the form in which we usually see it today didn’t exist before the 18th century.
It was the Europeans who removed the yeast from the cheesecake and instead started adding beaten eggs to it. This proved to be an immense improvement in cheesecake’s flavor from the overpowering yeast taste and transformed cheesecake into a great dessert.
In Maria Rundell’s 19th century book, A new system of Domestic Cookery, there are cheesecake recipes that use fresh butter and cheese curd. According to one of its versions, almonds, cream and eggs are used to thicken the cheesecake along with currants, raisin wine, brandy, orange flower water and nutmeg. The commercial cream cheese in America came around in 1872.
It was this year when William Lawrence from Chester, NY, went looking for a way to reinvent Neufchatel, the French soft cheese. During his venture, he accidentally ended up with a creamier, heavier and un-ripened cheese. After that, numerous dairymen came up with their own creations too.
All the present-day cheesecakes are mainly of two major types with the usual baked cheesecake being one of the common ones. The other type is the cheesecake prepared using uncooked cream cheese on a graham cracker or crumbled-cookie base. This particular type has its origins in the United States.