Make this delicious Cheesecake for Shavuot to enjoy with a cup of tea as you celebrate and commemorate the spring harvest and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This kosher cheesecake is simple to make and bakes in just 40 minutes.
Cheesecake for Shavuot
This cheesecake recipe has been passed onto me by my [Jewish] mother-in-law, and with the Jewish festival of Shavuot upon us I wanted to share the recipe with you!
Shavuot is known as the Feast of Weeks. It is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan. Shavuot has a double significance, agricultural and spiritual. Agriculturally it marks the all-important wheat harvest in the Land of Israel (Exodus 34:22), and spiritually it commemorates the anniversary of the day when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.Wikipedia
Like many Jewish holidays, food plays a big part, and for Shavuot it is customary to eat cheesecake. I asked my husband and parents-in-law “why cheesecake?” and no-one seemed to actually know!
I turned to the internet and learned that…
With the giving of the Torah, the Jews became obligated to observe the kosher laws. As the Torah was given on Shabbat, no cattle could be slaughtered nor could utensils be koshered, and thus on that day they ate dairy.Chabad.org
So it would seem that to have something symbolic for this festival, cheesecake – a dairy based dessert – became what Jewish people enjoy for Shavuot!
- Potato Latkes for Chanukkah
- Cinnamon Balls or Almond Macaroons for Passover
- Apple Cake for Rosh Hashannah
Ingredients Used in This Recipe
The original measurements of this recipe imperial rather than metric, since the recipe came from my mother-in-law (MIL) who has all her recipes scribbled down on scraps of paper – I just love that!
Back in the day we used pounds and ounces instead of grams and kilograms – I remember as a kid always cooking with pounds and ounces!
Most food weighing scales will have both imperial and metric on them so you can follow the recipe without issue.
The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here is a brief outline so you know what to expect from the recipe.
I highly recommend always reading a recipe all the way through before starting.
- Plain (All-Purpose) Flour – for both the cheesecake and the pastry base (see note below)
- Digestive Biscuits (or Graham Crackers if in the US) – for the biscuit base (see note below)
- Mascarpone – an Italian cream cheese. If you’re in the UK you need 2 x 500g tubs, which is slightly more than the [1lb] recipe calls for, but my MIL told me that’s what she uses and it’s fine.
- Margarine – my mother-in-law uses Stork which she says it the very best thing for baking. I’m not sure of a US equivalent though – sorry.
- Milk – you can use full-fat (whole in the US) or semi-skimmed (2% in the US)
- Caster Sugar – or regular white sugar is okay
- Eggs – separated. Both the egg whites and the yolk are used in this recipe
- Lemon – zest and juice
- Sultanas – known as golden raisins in the USA. These are an optional ingredient – you can make this cheesecake with or without them.
My MIL also told me that you can make this cheesecake with either a pastry or biscuit base. You see, my father-in-law likes his cheesecake with a pastry base, and my mother-in-law like her cheesecake with a biscuit base (as do my husband and I)! I’ll be providing the instructions for both bases.
If you are making the cheesecake with a pastry base, it needs to be baked blind first, so you’ll need some baking beans.
What Size Baking Pan Can I Use?
Making the cheesecake in a square pan means you can get a lot of pieces from the dessert for example you can get 36 x 1″ pieces, or 18 x 2″ pieces – great when feeding a crowd of people. Or cut it into larger squares as dessert.
Depending on the size of wedge you cut, you could get anything from 6 to 12 servings
Make sure that you line the base of the pan with baking/parchment paper or use a springform or loose base pan for easy removal of the cheesecake when baked. My mother-in-law likes to use cake pan liners – they look a bit like huge coffee filters to lift the cheesecake out easily.
More Cheesecake Recipes
Need more cheesecake in your life? Take a look at these recipes next – not all may be kosher!
- Rich & Creamy Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
- Easy Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Recipe
- Oreo Spiderweb Cheesecake with Black Velvet Cake Base
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy! Please feel free to check them out too.
How Can I Make Kosher Cheesecake for Shavuot?
I’m glad you asked! Just check out (and print) the recipe card with full ingredients and instructions below.
For a Pastry Base*
- 8 oz plain flour
- 4 oz margarine
- ⅛ tsp (pinch of) salt
- Cold water
For a Biscuit Base
- 7 oz Digestive biscuits (or Graham crackers), crushed into crumbs
- 2 oz margarine, melted
For the Filling
- 2 eggs, separated
- 3 oz sugar
- 1 oz margarine, softened
- 1 lb mascarpone
- 1½ level Tbsp plain flour
- 1½ Tbsp milk
- 1 lemon - zest and some of the juice
- 6 oz sultanas (golden raisins), optional
- Line the bottom of an 6" square cake pan or a 7" round cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- If making cheesecake with a pastry base, set the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- If making cheesecake with a biscuit base, set the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- To make a pastry base: Place the flour, margarine, and pinch of salt into a mixing bowl and add enough cold water to bring to a dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling into a circle to cover the base of the pan.
- Line the pastry base with a piece of parchment paper and a layer of baking beans. Bake blind at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 15-20 minutes until just cooked. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Remove the baking beans and parchment.
- Increase oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 to bake the cheesecake filling.
- To make a biscuit base: Place the biscuit crumbs and melted butter in a mixing bowl and mix until they combine and stick together. Pour into the cake pan and spread evenly, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
- To make the filling: Place the eggs whites in a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Place the egg yolks into a bowl with the sugar and beat together till combined. Beat in the softened margarine. Set aside.
- Place the mascarpone, flour, and milk into a large mixing bowl and beat to combine.
- Add the sugar mixture to the mascarpone mixture and mix well to combine.
- Stir in the lemon zest and a little lemon juice to personal taste.
- Stir in sultanas if using.
- Gently fold in the stiff egg whites.
- Pour filling over cheesecake base and place in the oven at 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 10 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 30 minutes or until set and golden on top, turning the pan halfway through cooking.
- Allow cheesecake to cool before cutting to serve.
- Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Cheesecake can be frozen, cover it with parchment paper then wrap in kitchen foil and place in the freezer. You can freeze the whole cheesecake, or cut portions.
- Defrost in the fridge before eating.
*This quantity of pastry may be more than you require. As an old family recipe this was passed down, so maybe my MIL uses a lot of pastry in her cheesecake bases, or uses some for another recipe! Use what you need, and freeze the dough by wrapping well and placing it in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month. Thaw before using for another recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 6394Total Fat: 426gSaturated Fat: 180gTrans Fat: 34gUnsaturated Fat: 213gCholesterol: 1012mgSodium: 2844mgCarbohydrates: 592gFiber: 20gSugar: 307gProtein: 77g
This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.
Photos in this post are currently for illustrative purposes – due to lockdown we are still waiting for our groceries to be delivered on the weekend. Post will be updated when we make the cheesecake.