• Cheesecake Bars. Photography: Daniel Lailah | Styling: Talia Assif
    Cheesecake Bars. Photography: Daniel Lailah | Styling: Talia Assif
  • Cheesecake Bars. Photography: Daniel Lailah | Styling: Talia Assif
    Cheesecake Bars. Photography: Daniel Lailah | Styling: Talia Assif
Recipe

Cheesecake Bars

This baked, dense and moist cheesecake with raisins (or cranberries), gets cut into rectangular bars, for a retro twist on the classic

These cheesecake bars are a take on the popular classic with a granny chic twist. Just line the mold with dough, fill with a delicious mixture of cheese and raisins (or cranberries) and bake. Note that you’ll need to let the cake set in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

I have been teaching pastry for many years, and every time I come to a class on yeasted shortcrust, I am asked the same question: “If the dough is supposed to be crispy, why does it need yeast?” My answer is simple: have you ever tried to roll or fold a shortcrust? The amount of butter in the dough makes it crack and tear. After all, even getting it into a pie dish or tart pan is a challenge.

So what do you do if you want to make, for example, stuffed crispy cookies or bourekitas, which need to be rolled and shaped? Just add some yeast and liquid (water, milk or cream), knead for 10 minutes, and voilà! We get a dough that is still crisp, thanks to all the butter, but that can also be shaped easily. You can fold, twist, roll thin, and it will still maintain a smooth, velvety texture and never tear. How does that happen? The prolonged kneading develops the gluten in the dough, the same fibers that keep it stable. And on the other hand, the small amount of yeast and the short rise means that the dough will not rise to an airy texture like that of bread, but only a little, just to maintain flexibility. The finished texture comes out more mellow and smooth than that of a shortcrust, so those who like their crusts to crumble and flake, will probably be disappointed.

In recent decades, the yeasted shortcrust has been somewhat forgotten, but you can still find it in the Austro-Hungarian wing of pastry, in pastries such as pressburger, poppy roulades and meringue roses, as well as in the Mizrahi cuisine, where it is used to make baba tamar and ka’ak cookies. But used here for cheesecake bars, it’s a perfect fit.

Ingredients for Cheesecake Bars

For the dough:

  • 3 cups (420 grams) flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream sweet
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 2 ⅔ tablespoons (25 grams) fresh yeast
  • 7 oz (200 grams) butter softened

For the filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cups (150 grams) Sugar
  • 1 lb 10.5 oz (750 grams) Tuv Taam cheese 5%
  • 2.8 oz (80 grams) Vanilla Instant Pudding 1 packet
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • lemon juice and lemon zest from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons raisins or cranberries

For egg wash:

  • 1 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoon milk

Instructions

  • 1. Prepare the dough: put all the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for 8 minutes until you get a uniform dough that doesn't stick to the sides. Cover and place in the refrigerator for two hours (and up to overnight).

  • 2. Prepare the filling: mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl.

  • 3. Heat the oven to 355F (180C) degrees.

  • 4. Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3. Roll the large part into a sheet 2-3 mm thick and line the bottom and edges of your dish. Fill with the cheese filling. From the remaining third of the dough, cut strips 1/4" (1/2 cm) wide and place them on the filling in a lattice pattern.

  • 5. Whisk the egg wash ingredients together and brush the dough strips.

  • 6. Bake for about 40 minutes until the dough is golden and the cheese filling is firm.

  • 7. Cool, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

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