31 December 2011

Polish Cheesecake or Sernik

I was asked on Facebook by Chrystal if I knew of a recipe her mother in law remembered.  It was a cheese pie made with farmer's cheeseSernik (pronounced Sehr-nyeek) is Poland's very popular version of cheesecake, using Twarog or Farmer's Cheese.

I originally meant to make the version my Babcia's recipe describes.  It involved doing something that I think is secretly quintessential to Polish foods-stuffing it.  In the original recipe, raisins and almonds are in the cake.  Hence, stuffing it.

However, after such wonderful help from my toddler at the extremely packed grocery store, I became distracted watching her concentrated face as she focused on putting sour cream, milk, and other items into the shopping cart for me and jumping "I big helper!" each time.  And forgot to purchase the raisins, which we buy quite often but are the snack of choice in my house.

So, you will forgive me as the finished product does not have raisins (and therefore, almonds since I think they should go hand in hand in this recipe).  But I will share the recipe as it is written with the raisins and almonds in it.  The pictured version below has chopped prunes instead-another delicious substitution.

Also, there are other equally lovely versions of this recipe which involve more separating and mixing of the eggs and other ingredients.  But this is the easy version my Babcia shared with me.  It is thicker because you are not adding any whipped egg whites or leavening agents, such as baking soda. 

Sernik covers a range of versions, from light, fluffy souffle like to thick and rougher textured but equally delicious and sweet versions.

Sernik can also have a crust or not.  I personally like mine crustless.

I will share another version that is light and fluffy in a week or two.  I will also make it with a crust, in case you would like to have it that way.


2 pounds Twarog *
6 Eggs
6 tbsp. Flour
1 1/3 cup Sugar
4 tbsp. Butter
1/2 cup Raisins**
1/2 cup Almonds***
up to 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract (you might have to experiment with how much you prefer)
3 tbsp. Orange Zest

Crumble the cheese well.  Add eggs and sugar.  Mix well together.

Soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes to plump up.  Dry and coat with the flour.

Add raisins, flour, almonds, orange peel, vanilla to the filling mixture.

Add warm melted butter.  Mix well.

In a greased springform pan, pour the filling and spread evenly.

Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees.

Let sit a few minutes before removing from pan and cutting.

You may melt chocolate and drizzle it on top.  I prefer whipping cream on mine and fresh berries.



*  The recipe originally calls for 1 kg Twarog, which is 2.2 lbs but I just rounded it to 2 lbs.

You can use ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese instead, but it must be very well drained and not soured. 

You could also make your own Twarog, which I personally have not yet done myself but plan to do in the next few weeks as a fun experiment with the kids.  I think, however, that you would probably need to get real fresh unprocessed cow's milk for it to be truly successful.

**  The recipe originally calls for using a Vanilla Bean instead of Vanilla Extract, but I've had difficulty locating it out here on the prairie.  I'm sure that closer to the city, you could find it more easily.  I did, at one point, find it for $9 for one bean, which to me is just extremely high.

If you decide to use a Vanilla Bean, you will have lovely black specks throughout the cake, which to me, look more authentic.  Just slice in half and scrape out the seeds and add to the dough where the extract is used.

You can also use Vanilla Sugar instead of the regular sugar and vanilla extract or vanilla bean.

***  You can either soak the whole Almonds in hot water for 10 minutes and then skin, or use sliced or slivered Almonds.  Your preference.

Related Posts:

Farmer's Cheese Spread or Pasta Twarogowa

 Placek, Kuchen, Coffee Cake, Delicious


Anonymous said...

That looks divine!

Chrystal Oates said...

Even here in Southern Maryland it is $19.99 for 2 beans. UGH! Super high. So I order from:


They are as low as $1.50 a bean and I have never been disappointed.

Thanks for the recipe. I ran out and got 2 pounds of Twarog.

I can't wait to make it tomorrow and run it over and surprise her. The best is her Mom is in town and she may remember it. But its hit and miss with her due to her dementia.

Anonymous said...

Polsih Mom Photographer sent me over this way to take a look at your cheesecake and how different the Polish one is from the American one. It looks delicious!