Monday, August 9, 2010

Paul Brezinski's Polish Cheesecake

Not only did I leave Chicago with a carload of food, I also left with a few recipes from my brother-in-law, Paul. He was particularly enthusiastic about a dessert that had been handed down though the family, so when I got home, of course I had to try that first.

When Paul told me about the recipe, he called a double-crusted Polish cheesecake, but it's not so much a traditional cheesecake as it is a a sweet yeasted bread with a cheese filling. If you think of it as a cheesecake, you'll expect more cheese filling and less dough. If you think of it as a cheese-filled cake, you'll expect it to be softer and a bit more delicate than this yeasted bread.

But think of it as a sweet bread with a cheesecake filling, and you're all ready for breakfast, brunch, or dessert.

When I made it, the outer edges of the cake had a higher dough-to-filling ratio than the center of the cake where there was more filling and less dough. I don't know if that's the expected outcome, or the result of how I rolled the dough and put it in the pan. But it's something to keep in mind as you cut and serve.

Here's the recipe as I got it:

And here's the recipe as I made it:

Sweet Bread Cheesecake

Close to the edge, there's less filling, more dough.
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 oz) AP flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temp. butter
eggwash (1 lightly beaten egg white)

3 8-ounce pkgs. room temp. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Milk, as needed to make a thick but pourable icing (just a few teaspoons)

The original recipe simply said to "mix all ingredience (sic) well" but Paul's notes said that he used his bread machine, so I assumed that meant it had to be well-kneaded rather than simply mixed. Also, the flour was measured in cups rather than weight, so I assumed 4 1/2 ounces per cup.

I used my trusty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, and mixed the flour, yeast, sugar, milk and eggs first, letting it start to get elastic before adding the salt and butter and kneading until it was smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.

There was no instruction to let it rise once first, so I didn't. But I think I might do that next time.

While the bread was kneading, I sprayed a 9x13 baking pan with baking spray, then lined it with parchment paper leaving the parchment hanging over the long sides for easy removal. Then I sprayed the parchment paper with baking spray as well.

I assembled the ingredients for the cheese filling in a second stand mixer bowl. It's handy to have an extra for recipes like this. When the dough was done being kneaded, I beat the filling ingredients using the flat paddle of the stand mixer.

I divided the dough into two pieces and rolled the first piece on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle approximately 9x13 inches and fitted it into the bottom of the baking pan. Not much flour was needed; this isn't a particularly sticky or goopy dough.

I topped the dough with the cheese filling, and smoothed it out.

Then I rolled out the second piece of dough to approximately 9x13 inches and placed that on top of the cheese mixture. It didn't fit exactly to the edges, but that was fine.

I brushed the top of the dough with the egg wash, the covered the pan with plastic wrap and set it aside to rise for 90 minutes. Nuts were an optional ingredient on top of the eggwash, but I didn't use any. Sliced almonds would have been a nice addition, or any chopped nut that you like.

About a half-hour into the rise, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

I baked the cake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees until the top was a nice golden brown. It was still a bit jiggly, but not violently so.

The filling was a bit thicker in th center of the cake.

When the cake was done, I let it cool in the pan until the cheese was set enough so I could remove the cake without damage, then put it on a rack to cool. When it was completely cool, I peeled off the parchment.

I made a drizzle using powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, and drizzled that decoratively over the top. Paul's directions called for an orange juice, vanilla, powdered sugar and hot water glaze, and the original directions just called for powdered sugar and orange juice with no indication of amounts, so take your pick.

Since I was making this a day ahead for company, I let it cool then stored it in the refrigerator. But I liked it best when in was closer to room temperature rather than completely chilled, so I let it warm up a bit before serving.

This was submitted to Yeastspotting.


Stefanie said...

Thats reminds me of a german cake called Bienenstich (bee sting).
Its prepared similar to the yeasted cheesecake but the filling is a vanilla pastry cream.
The variation with cream cheese sounds delious - another recipe for my toDo list.

Anja said...

Great idea!

Brilynn said...

I've never had anything like that, it looks really good though!

Brother In Law Paul said...

I like to use my bread machine because it is goof proof. Dump the ingredients in and in 2 hours 35 minutes I have dough that is ready to use. The orange juice option traditionally was for winter, especially around Christmas. I find I like very fine orange zest better(I use a microplane grater)
Also I do not use milk in the icing just water vanilla and powdered sugar. Lastly, I gently push more filling to the edges because there is a substantial amount of crust around the edges and that way the edges are not just dough with no filling.

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