Sernik Polish Cheesecake

Cheesecake
Fotosearch / Getty Images
  • Total: 105 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Optional Refrigeration : 60 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
546 Calories
28g Fat
61g Carbs
14g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 546
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 179mg 60%
Sodium 511mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 61g 22%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 44g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 109mg 8%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 149mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Sernik (SEHRR-neek) is one of the most common desserts served on Polish tables. Easily found in Polish supermarkets, bakeries, and coffee shops, this sweet treat has hundreds of years of history, thought to have arrived in Poland in the 17th century. Although many varieties have come with the passing of time, the traditional recipe is still a favorite: a sweet pastry crust filled with a type of farmer's cheese called twaróg (TVAH-rroog) and then baked to perfection.

Other modern variations use crumbly cake as the base or add fruits, raisins, or chocolate to the filling. One famous sernik is very similar to a strawberry cheesecake, but the base is sponge cake instead of the famous buttery graham cracker crust. Sernik can be baked in a square or round springform pan—both are traditional.

Although it's possible to buy twaróg in Polish gourmet stores, some cooks use quark instead. The difference lies in the amount of fat, as twaróg can contain a lot of it, while quark can be low in fat. Twaróg is also firmer. Using quark can yield a tasty dessert, but it won't be as luscious and creamy as one made with twárog. If twaróg is not an option, make the sernik with homemade farmer's cheese.

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 6 ounces butter (cold, cubed; divided)

  • 2 large egg yolks (room temperature)

  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

  • Optional:

    1 large egg

For the Cheese:

  • 2 pounds dry-curd cheese

For the Filling:

  • 4 large large eggs (room temperature)

  • 5 ounces butter (room temperature)

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this sernik dessert is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Crust

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl or food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

  3. Add 5 ounces of cold butter and pulse, or cut it in, until you get a sandy texture, similar to a pie crust.

  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks and sour cream.

  5. Add the egg mixture into the flour-butter mixture, mixing or pulsing until just combined. If the dough is too dry, add the optional whole egg. If the dough is too soft to roll, refrigerate for 1 hour so the ingredients dry up and firm.

  6. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch springform pan with the remaining ounce of butter.

  7. On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry dough big enough to line the pan and come up the sides.

  8. Fit the rolled dough into the prepared pan, making a crimped or rolled edge.​

Process the Cheese

 

  1. Place the cheese in a food processor, clean meat grinder, potato ricer, or high-speed blender.

  2. Process the cheese a few times so you have a smooth consistency and there are no big lumps. If using the blender, do not overmix—you want a creamy texture.

  3. Place the processed cheese in a bowl and reserve.

Make the Filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs.

  2. With the help of a manual or electrical whisk, bring the egg whites to stiff peaks in a large bowl. Reserve.

  3. Add the vanilla extract to the yolks and mix until well incorporated. Reserve.

  4. In a standing mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  5. Add the vanilla-yolk mixture into the sugar and butter mixture. Mix until well combined.

  6. Fold the processed cheese into the sugar-butter-yolk mixture.

  7. Fold the egg whites into the main mixture and combine well without overmixing. You want to retain as much air as possible.

Assemble the Sernik

  1. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry crust.

  2. If you have leftover dough, roll it into pencil shapes and lay them diagonally across the top of the cheesecake.

  3. Bake the sernik for 50 to 60 minutes or until the center is only slightly jiggly. The top shouldn't brown.

  4. Let cool completely before cutting it into squares.

  5. Enjoy!