This post is sponsored by Polish Pottery Westlake. You can also find them on Facebook. All opinions are my own.
Polish Zebra Cheesecake (Sernik Zebra) had my attention at first glance. The alternating stripes of vanilla and chocolate cheesecake are mesmerizing. The fine concentric circles really do catch the eye. It’s true; we eat with our eyes first.
Call me a show-off, but I love to serve guests an impressive dish that leaves them wondering how I did it, and this is so easy! It’s just a matter of alternating the two fillings.
Adding 2 – 3 tablespoons at a time builds up this amazing pattern. I can imagine trying it with other colors and flavors too. A pink strawberry zebra cheesecake perhaps?
The cocoa flavored zebra is delicious!
A word about the crust
I prepared this crust in a food processor, and I do recommend this method to you. As you begin, it seems like this is nothing but flour and it will never come together. Eventually, the flour takes on a yellow color from the butter and egg yolk, but even then, all you have is yellow crumbs.
Continue to process, and the dough will look like it’s trying to become a mass. I followed the instructions and did not add any liquid. For gluten’s structure to develop, you need to have some water in the mix, so I didn’t worry about over working the dough and making it tough.
This very short crust dough did hold together a little better after it had chilled, and the wee bit of moisture that was in the butter and egg had a chance to more evenly distribute.
I’ve come across similar dry pastry crust in Polish recipes before when making mazurek. This is a very dry short crust pastry. No water is meant to be added. I have given in before and added a spoon or two to make it workable, but not this time!
Substitute cottage cheese for twaróg
Readers often ask what to use for sernik if they don’t have easy access to twaróg, the Polish farmer’s cheese. I have a variety of responses, some that are frowned upon by purists
- Try making your own. It’s quicker and easier than you imagine. My recipe even includes a how to video.
- Have you checked the fancy cheese area in your posh or health food style markets? I can usually buy it at Sprout’s.
- Try substituting ricotta
- What I’ve done today, I think it’s the ideal solution. Just use cottage cheese! Every supermarket carries cottage cheese. I put the cottage cheese in a strainer lined with paper towels while I was making the crust in an attempt to dry it. The paper towels below the cheese soaked up liquid and I folded a coupled of paper towels and patted the top and declared it good to go!
- (this is the same thing I do to make Greek yogurt; I strain plain yogurt overnight sitting the paper towel lined strainer in a bowl to catch the substantial liquid that drains out)
Baking in Polish pottery
I’m a huge fan of Polish pottery and brought home several pieces from our time in Poland. This pie plate has been supplied by our friends at Polish Pottery Westlake. I love the finishes, the geometric patterns, the more intricate hand painted patterns, but it’s not just for show. It doesn’t just live in our china hutch.
We use our Polish pottery everyday as serving pieces. I’ll fill ramekins with smalec, wrapping several in foil and freeze them, pulling them out days or weeks later when guests are on their way.
The recipe I made today was originally written for a springform pan, but I baked it in a Polish pottery pie plate. I didn’t bother with a water bath for the pan, something that’s usually recommended when making cheesecake.
The clay from Bolesławiec is so heavy and dense, that these pieces transfer heat, more slowly than metal and bake very gently and evenly. You’ll notice there is no crack in my cheesecake.
This recipe comes from the Polish food blog, http://smakolykibereniki.blogspot.com. I’m including their original measurements as well as approximations that more closely match American packaging.
Tag me in photos on Facebook or Instagram! I can’t wait to see what your Polish Zebra Cheesecake looks like!
A light, striped cheesecake with hints of vanilla and cocoa
for the crust:
- 3/4 cup flour (110g)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (50g)
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed (55g)
- 1 large egg yolk
for the filling:
- 24 ounce container cottage cheese (700g), room temp
- 8 ounce container marscarpone (200g), room temp
- 3/4 cup sugar (150g)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted & cooled (50g)
- 4 eggs, room temp
- 1 egg white (leftover from crust)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
for the crust:
- Combine flour, powdered sugar, butter, and egg yolk in food processor until it begins to form a mass – OR – Combine flour and powdered sugar, cut in butter until mixuture resembles coarse meal, work in egg yolk until mixure begins to come together
- The dough will still be crumbly, compress into a disc and wrap in plastic, refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
- The dough will be too crumbly to roll out, just pat it into the bottom of your pan, either a springform or a pie plate (9 or 10 inch), bake 15 – 20 minutes, the the crust begins to bubble, prick with a fork to allow steam to escape, the crust will take on a golden color around the edge when it’s done, cool, grease sides of pan, or grease and add parchment paper
for the filling:
- Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C)
- Drain the cottage cheese in a paper towel lined colendar, press paper towels on the cottage cheese to remove most of moisture
- Blitz the cottage cheese and mascarpone with sugar, and melted butter in a food processor, add eggs, one at a time, add flour, corn starch, and vanilla, divide batter into two bowls and add cocoa to one bowl, blending until smooth
- Add 2 – 3 tablesppons of the vanilla batter to the center of the cooled crust, genetly pour 2 – 3 tablespoons on the cocoa batter directly into the center of the vanilla batter, keep alternating until batter is used up or pan is full, use less batter for the last 2 or 3 circles of batter
- Bake for 70 – 80 minutes, the top of the batter will puff up a bit, the outter edges may take on a hint of color, and the center is set when touched lightly, cool, and chill over night
- Before serving, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, carefully slip out parchment paper from the side if you used it
If you have twaróg, you should certainly feel free to use this (rather than cottage cheese) with the marscarpone as the original Polish recipe does. The recipe recommends, grinding the cheese 3 times.
I was worried about overflowing my pie plate, so I didn’t use all of the batter, that would have fit in a taller springform pan, so I baked the extra in a shallow dish, an extra, crustless cheesecake.
If you have potato flour on hand feel free to substitute it for the corn starch to duplicate the Polish original recipe
Keywords: polish zebra cheesecake recipe sernik