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Happy National Cheesecake Day

Finally a good excuse to eat cheesecake… it’s National Cheesecake Day!

Today we celebrate a time-honored treat that has been enjoyed for centuries. In fact, Pennsylvania’s early colonists would have been making their own versions of cheesecake at this very time of year! During the warm spring and summer months, cows would be producing plenty of fresh cream to use in recipes and preserve as butter and cheese. Soft cheese curds could be made into hard cheese wheels for the winter, but could also be enjoyed fresh in some delicious seasonal recipes… like cheesecake! 

17th-century cheesecake, freshly baked in a cast-iron pot... yum!

For more information about the cheese-making process and dairying, check out our blog post from last year: We’re So Cheesy

Draining the cheese curds in the Kitchen House

William Penn’s first wife, Gulielma, must have been a fan of cheesecake, since she had three recipes (also called “receipts”) for this tasty dish. This type of cheesecake would have been made from fresh cream, cheese curds, and eggs – all ingredients that would only be available during the warm months. William Penn had his cousin Edward Blackfan transcribe Gulielma’s receipt book in 1702, and this is the only surviving record we have.

Here is one of the recipes – can you imagine how much cheesecake would turn out if you used 2 lbs flour and currants, 1 lb sugar and butter, and 20 egg yolks??

To make Cheese Cake

 Take 15 quarts of new milk warme as it is from the Cow, or else make it warm then, putt too it 4 spunfulls of Rennett, and Lett it stand, while it is Coming, make youre Cofins too 2 pound of flouer, take 1/2 a pound of butter youre Liquor must boyle and then youre Chees is pritiwell Com, then put it in a Cheese Cloath and Lett it hang and Drain till all the whay bee kum from it, then take the Curd and Rubb it through a sciefe of hairs and with thy hand, too this Curd take 2 pounds Corants one pound of suger 3 nutmegs, 6 spunfuls of Rose water the yeolk of 20 eggs, one pound of butter, and Lett the Coffin bee hardened in the oven and then fill them not to full and Lett the oven bee quick and 1/2 an houer will bake them.

 

By Hannah Howard, Volunteer & Special Project Coordinator