The words world-famous cheesecake used to refer to Junior's in NYC—at least, until I traveled to Basque Country. In San Sebastián, you'll find La Viña, a bar where people from all over the world pack inside like Spanish sardines for a slice of the nearly burnt-looking cheesecakes lining the shelves.
Unlike their American cousins, Basque-style cheesecakes are crustless; instead, they're baked in a hot oven so the batter's edges caramelize into a natural crust. The result is a dessert that lands somewhere between a flan and a New York slice.
Thankfully, you don't have to fly all the way to Spain for La Viña's famous confection. In her soon-to-be-released cookbook, Basque Country, American expat (and now San Sebastián local) Marti Buckley is sharing the five-ingredient recipe for you to recreate at home. Just as important as the method, however, is how you eat it: Do as the Basque do and serve each slice with a glass of Pedro Ximénez sherry, such as González Byass.
To learn more, read “Guess Who's Basque.”
La Viña Cheesecake
Excerpted from Basque Country, by Marti Buckley (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Simon Bajada.
Yield: Serves 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus cooling time
1¾ cups (350 g) sugar
2¼ pounds (1 kg) cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
5 large eggs
2 cups (480 mL) heavy cream
¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) overhanging the top of the pan. (You can cut a circle to fit the base and then cut a band of paper to fit neatly around the sides, but the more rustic and simple method is to press an entire sheet into the pan, pleating the paper where it begins to crease.)
2. In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. (This can be done by hand as well—beat with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes.) Add the salt and mix. Incorporate the eggs one by one and stir until fully incorporated. Whisk in the cream. With a sifter, add the flour to the mixture and fold it in gently.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until browned and almost burned-looking on top. This can really vary oven to oven, so it helps to have your eye on the cheesecake from 50 minutes forward. The center will still be quite jiggly, but the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and cool.
4. Before serving, remove the outer part of the springform and gently tug away the parchment paper. Serve at room temperature.