No worries, I’m not going to post any poetry or love songs. Though, coming to think of it, May is the month of love over here, so I may add a few things after the bump, but for now, let’s stick with the Jewish seasons and


It’s a cow! It’s a plane! It’s a superhero in soiled PJs!

Eh, not quite; it’s a “Zupfkuchen” (approximately pronounces like: tseppppppfffffffkoochan or tsuppppppfffffffkoochan if you’re from Northern England), which translates as “pluck cake”.
As far as I know, the origins of that cake can be found in Russia (just as those of cheesecake in general). The nice twist to it is its tender chocolaty base and topping. It’s made with lowfat quark. Try Russian stores if you cannot find any at your usual supermarkets. Quark is much lower in fat than creamcheese and has got a mild, ever so slightly sour taste.

I used a 9″ diametre springform pan. Double the amount of ingredients for an 11″ springform pan or a deep 30cm by 40cm tray / tray plus baking frame.

For the base and “plucks”:
222gr flour
20gr unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
100 gr sugar
vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt
1 egg
125 gr margarine

Mix and sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and knead into a dough.

Roll out / spread two-thirds of that dough onto the base of your prepared pan. (I lined the bottom of the pan with baking tin foil by Melitta and greased the whole pan very, very lightly just so the cake would be easier to remove.)

For the filling:
500gr quark
125gr sugar
vanilla sugar
real vanilla
1 sachet vanilla pudding powder (If you don’t have access to that, use to-boil vanilla custard powder or three to four tbsp of starch and some extra vanilla.)
2 eggs
185gr melted and cooled down margarine or butter
1 pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients for the filling and spread the filling evenly onto the base. Pluck the remaining dough into large flakes and distribute them on top of the filling.

Bake the cake at about 160 degrees Centigrade for about 45-50 minutes, 60 minutes for the large springform pan or 40-45 minutes for the flat tray. Note, the filling won’t get dark.

[If you want a more smartish-looking cake, roll out the remaining third of the dough to about one-fifth of an inch and use nice, not too delicate, cookie cutters of your choice to cut out patterns.]

Want more? Click to see what else I did today:

This one comes without a base. I used the same filling as above, just double the amount of ingredients BUT liquid sweetener instead of sugar as this cake was made for a diabetic family member. On top there are pitted sweet cherries and blanched, slivered almonds.

The filling’s pretty versatile, so if you’d like to try different flavours of cheesecake, just make a huge batch of filling and add your additions to taste, e.g. with apricots, raspberries baked in or fresh strawberries on top.

On a final note, here’s the love poem I threatened you with above:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
B-D loves cheesecake,
And so should you.

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  • That’s not a Zupfkuchen … It sould well be some Russian Yiddishe-Kuchen, however …
    History shows that the first recorded mention of cheesecake was by the Greeks, in 776 B.C.

    Otherwise you’re right. It looks like a cake, it feels like a cake, it smells like a cake. It just isn’t a Zupfkuchen 🙂

  • It is a Zupfkuchen by any standard and recipe of Zupfkuchen that I know. Mayhaps you could give us a description of what you think a Zupfkuchen should be like, and I’ll tell you what it’s called in other parts of Germany.

    If you can justify cheesecake with goat cheese in any shape or form, with honey instead of sugar, and no vanilla, I’ll concede to Ancient Greek origins. However, the closest to current cheesecakes, culinarily as well as historically in a continued line, appears to be some kind of cake popular among Russian Orthodox Christians for their Easter celebrations. Considering the Russian Orthodox Easter date, the European as well as American areas where cheesecakes established themselves sort-of traditionally, namely in areas where migration from Russian Jewish communities took place well before the 1990s, the other types of traditional pastries in those areas we can set into contrast with the presence of cheesecake, elements of Orthodox Easter liturgy not to be found in the Western churches, and the lack of documentation of anything resembling what we today consider cheesecake in a continued line of documentation up to then, there are strong reasons to assume the Russian provenance as likely. 🙂

  • Nice cheesecake! I love these European recipes! It is rare to use quark here, or scales, or vanilla pudding powder! But quark does make a yummy, light cheesecake! Keep the recipes coming Froylein, they are the #2 reason I visit Jewlicious.

  • … Fro, I knew you’d come through with an interesting recipe for Shavuot! Thanks!

    Since 2 of our kids will be away for the holiday, we will not have a big enough group to justify cheesecake – so I am leaning towards making individual flans (milk custard with caramel coating) this year.

    Also, some of us stay up all night learning Torah, and others go to bed earlier, so the idea of individual portions makes sense for the lunch meal.

    This is one of the finalists in my recipe search… I probably will make this, as we now have juicy valencia oranges – the last of the year’s citrus.

    Orange Flan:
    * 1/2 cup sugar for caramelized sauce
    * 1/2 cup orange juice for sauce
    * 2 cups half-and-half (or heavy cream for a richer, denser custard)
    * zest of 1/2 Large Orange
    * zest of 1/2 Lemon
    * 1/2 cup orange juice for custard
    * 3 eggs
    * 1/4 cup sugar for custard

    Put a saucepan over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice.

    With the wooden spoon, keep stirring sugar and juice mixture constantly in pan until sauce is reduced and thickened. It should be a rich medium brown color (caramelized). This will take 3-5 minutes or so on medium to low heat.

    Remove from heat and quickly spoon caramelized sugar sauce into each of the 6 ramekins or large dish. (If you wait, sugar will cool and harden.) Set aside.

    Grate peel of half of a large orange and half of a lemon into a mixing bowl.

    Pour about 1/2-inch of warm water into a 9” x 13” baking dish for boiling water bath if using ramekins. If using one large open baking dish, be sure that the dish is tall enough to accommodate the water necessary to cover 3/4 or the height of the dish.

    Add 1/2 cup orange juice, the half-and-half and citrus zest to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir. Scald 2 cups of half-and-half in the saucepan and remove from heat. Keep a close eye on the pan, so the cream does not boil over.

    Meanwhile in a medium mixing bowl, beat slightly 3 eggs. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar.

    Stirring constantly, gradually add hot cream to egg yolk mixture. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture slowly into another mixing bowl, straining it using the cheesecloth to line the strainer. This should catch all the citrus zest. Discard cheesecloth.

    Ladle mixture into ramekins.

    Place each of the ramekins in the baking dish with water. If water level does not reach 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins, carefully pour more water in. Bake uncovered in water bath at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted half way between center and the edge of dish.

    Note: To ensure the custard does not over-cook, check doneness after 45 minutes, then every 5 minutes or so.
    Cool and Refrigerate

    Carefully remove each ramekin from the water bath. Set on a cooling rack until lukewarm, then chill flan thoroughly in refrigerator – at least 1 hour.

    When ready to serve, un-mold by running a knife around the inside edge of baking dish. Place a small dessert plate on the top of the ramekin. With one hand under the ramekin and the other on top of the place, turn over. Tap the ramekin and the flan should drop onto the plate. If it does not, carefully “prod” the flan out of the ramekin with a small paring knife. It should slide out of the ramekin onto the plate and the sauce will surround it.

    Garnish with orange peel or a slice of orange, if desired.


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