[Sca-cooks] OT/OOP: and in honor of the mid-Pennsic "sillyseason"...

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Aug 9 05:04:07 PDT 2007

On Aug 9, 2007, at 12:36 AM, S CLEMENGER wrote:

> So, uhm, being from many 1000s of miles to the left of Manhattan,  
> and thus unable to experience the true and deep pleasures of  
> knowing, intimately and instantly, what constitutes a True New Yawk  
> Jewish-American Cheesecake T, what should it contain? How high  
> should it be? Crust, or no crust?
> Displaced Yankee-Westerners are jonesing to know....
> --Maire, who's really come to abhor most cheesecakes, because  
> they're always way to freaking sweet, and too, well, soft (unbaked?  
> underbaked?...blech)

Please understand that this is a matter of adherence to a known  
style, as when the characteristics of an ale can make it an  
excellent, say, single porter but a lousy double stout, because it is  
not what it should be when it advertises itself as a stout.

So, the style is, it's baked in a springform pan, generally to a  
depth of 3 to as much as 5 inches, straight vertical sides (in short,  
it's not a pie!). The filling is made primarily with cream cheese,  
whole eggs, egg yolks, sweet or sour cream, sugar, vanilla  
(generally) and grated citrus peel, often a combination of lemon and  
orange. It is not frozen or set with gelatin. It is baked, and like a  
pumpkin pie or any of several custards, it is baked, the eggs set and  
the result is tender but firm, somewhat dense (this stuff is  
filling), softer than chilled cream cheese but not quivery like a  
custard. Sweetness is as sweet as you want it to be, but between the  
tang of the cheese and the citrus, you do want some sugar in it, and  
then it will behave differently as to texture without the sugar,  
also. But I agree, commercial versions are often too sweet. Gooey  
fruit toppings (somewhere in between fruit set in an appropriately  
flavored gelatin and commercial, starch-thickened pie filling) are  
extremely common, but technically, Officially Frowned Upon. In fact,  
when Lindy's was promoting itself as The One True Cheesecake, the  
Reuben's faction and others complained of Lindy's obvious heresy in  
the use of pre-applied fruit toppings. This may be true, but I never  
had any trouble getting plain cheesecake at Lindy's.

The crust (yes, there is one, ordinarily) is any of several pastry  
types, generally a sweet tart dough of some kind, most commonly some  
variation on the family of German tart doughs known as murbteig.  
Flour, butter, sugar, an egg yolk or two, and more grated citrus  
peel. It would probably roll out and bake into a quite acceptable  
sugar cookie.

Graham cracker crusts or the similar ones commercial bakeries used to  
make from stale cake crumbs, are generally regarded as being for  
people who can't handle real life, and no-bake cheesecakes are just  
cheese-flavored Jello. You might make one at home, but it's not  
really something to boast of ;-).

Now, my point in complaining about the clearly inauthentic nature of  
the prop cheesecake in "Guys and Dolls" was not so much a claim that  
there was anything wrong with it, qua cheesecake, but simply that  
Mindy's (or Lindy's) would never have served a cheesecake of this type.


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