This is the easiest most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever eaten!!! Others have said online it’s the best cheesecake in the whole wide world. I doubted the social media hype and had to try for myself to realise how right they were. So total thumbs up and enthusiastic clapping here. It’s simple creamy perfection and that’s the whole idea. The owner of la Viña bar in San Sebastian carried out a series of experiments to create this basque cheesecake. He says it’s a no-fuss cake that focuses on simple ingredients and eliminates the unnecessary biscuit base. I respected this idea and just played around with quantities to reduce the sugar and cream – it’s pretty flexible and I’ve seen varying ratios online. My glutenfree cheesecake‘s made up of cream cheese, eggs, sugar, cream and a tablespoon of cornflour. No vanilla extract or other flavourings to distract the palate. No extra flour to mar the utter creaminess. Not too much cream either. The rustic look is created with sheets of baking paper and the slightly burnt top provides the surprisingly most delicious contrast to the soft centre. Make this basque burnt cheesecake, swoon and go straight to dessert heaven…! 🙂
As basque cheesecakes are apparently failproof I’m posting this recipe now so we can all make and enjoy them. Repeatedly. Mine is based on the original recipe and tips given in an article in La Vanguardia newspaper El secreto de la mejor tarta de queso de España (‘the secret of Spain’s best cheesecake’) which also includes great info on the traditional Viña bar-restaurant, how they developed this cheesecake and snippets of an interview with the owner. There’s an interesting article in English here too.
I replaced the tablespoon of all-purpose flour with cornflour to make this cheesecake glutenfree and followed the order given in the original recipe for adding ingredients. You can even put everything in the bowl in one go and stir. I followed Spanish baking bloggers’ online advice to cool the cheesecake in the oven a while and store overnight before eating but am considering not doing this next time to see if it stays even creamier.
La Viña’s owner Rivera says the trick to this cheesecake is baking it in just the right conditions to get that utopian creaminess contrasting with the ‘burnt’ outer layer – don’t worry, it’s not horribly burnt but terribly tasty. The perfect temperature and timings will depend on your oven so play around with it and keep an eye on your cheesecake towards the 30-minute mark. The good news is this cheesecake is reportedly always delicious even if baked a little firmer but don’t let it burn too black (eek).
- Pre-heat oven to 210ºC/410ºF static non-convection oven (heated top and bottom).
- Line a 20cm/8in round springform baking tin (7cm/2.8in high) with 1 or 2 sheets of baking paper. I used 3 sheets for mine which I think is too many – the edges and bottom of the cake should be a little darker next time. Have the paper sticking out above the tin 2-3 centimetres (less high than mine) and you could moisten it a little as they do in la Viña (I haven’t tried this yet). The cake rises then comes back down a bit.
Make sure the eggs and cream cheese are at room temperature.
- 235g beaten egg (about 4 and 1/2 medium-large free-range eggs)
- 180 – 200g/4/5 cup to 3/4 cup + 6 and 1/2 tsp caster sugar (I used unrefined golden)
- optional pinch of salt (up to scant 1/8 tsp), to taste – the original has no added salt and I think I prefer it
- 590g/20.8oz Philadelphia cream cheese softened at room temperature (I used 1 bigger family-size tub + 1 standard tub) – apparently at la Viña they stick to using Philadelphia rather than any other cream cheese.
- 150g/ml liquid whipping cream, 35% and cold (not thick, heavy or double cream)
- 1 tbsp (9g) cornflour (cornstarch/Maizena), or all-purpose flour
- Using a standmixer or handwhisk slowly stir the eggs, sugar and salt 20-30 seconds to combine.
- Slowly stir in the remaining ingredients (cream cheese, cream and cornflour). Whisk a little if there are any little lumps to smooth out. Don’t whisk air into the batter.
- Pour into prepared springform tin lined with baking paper.
- Place in lower-middle of oven and lower heat to 200ºC/390ºF. Aim to bake about 40 minutes.
- After 30 minutes check cheesecake. If getting too dark cover with baking paper or lower heat a little. If too pale and flat raise heat to 210ºC/410ºF and bake the remaining 5 to 10 minutes, or more until cheesecake puffs and darkens a bit but isn’t black. At this point if the cheesecake is still pale don’t keep baking (as I once did, making it too firm) but place under the grill a few minutes to darken the crust.
- After 30-40 minutes move cheesecake a little to check it’s really wobbly. This is good. If it’s darkened and risen presume it’s baked. It’s best a bit underbaked than too baked though apparently it’s always delish.
Baking and cooling
Once the cheesecake is baked optionally leave in unlit oven (with door open) 30 minutes or so to cool down slowly towards room temperature (if it seems a bit too set then omit this step). Take out and after an hour or so if it looks solid enough carefully unmould onto a wire rack to cool completely (keep the baking paper on).
Eating and storing
In la Viña it seems they serve the cheesecake immediately once cooled to room temperature. Apparently it’s delicious with an almost runny centre. Must try that. But many Spanish online recipes leave the cheesecake in the fridge overnight in airtight tupperware before carefully unpeeling the baking paper and serving.
After its night in the fridge my cheesecake was absolutely delicious. It can be stored in the fridge up to 4 or 5 days. Allow to warm up at room temperature 20 minutes or so before eating. After 6 days it’s still yummy but more compact. But you can freeze it: set out separate slices on a tray in the freezer to harden then wrap in baking paper and place in airtight tupperware. Defrost at room temperature for a few hours before eating. They’re perfect and still so light melt-in-the-mouth delicious!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this burnt basque cheesecake: Do try it one day. It’s clearly not a ‘pretty face’ yet fully deserves its social media world-wide fame – the pure clean taste and creamy texture will blow your mind. You won’t regret it!!! 🙂
Yum yum. Getting pretty cold here in Barcelona and it’s a great time to be by the oven eating comfort food. Hope you’ll have a wonderful simply delish week with lots of happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x