Why Is Cheesecake Called CheeseCake? Is It Pie, Cake, Or A Tart?

Let’s settle this once and for all: cheesecake is no cake. Or so we think. Many are ready to fight this out.

If it is not a cake, why is cheesecake called cheesecake? For years, many people have argued about this and we just might have some convincing proof for you that it’s not.

Let’s explore the roots and origin of this amazing dessert as well as how it got its name. If it is not cake, is it a pie or tart?

Why Is Cheesecake Called Cheesecake?

Cheesecakes are popular desserts enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. They are creamy, delicious, but taste nothing like cakes.

They are made of cream, cheese, sugar, and eggs. Either baked or unbaked, the bottom layer of a cheesecake can be made of biscuits, crackers, cookies, or even pastry. There is nothing bread-like about it, yet, it is called cheesecake.

Arguably, the earliest mention of cheesecake was by a Greek physician sometime in the 5th century BCE. But it wasn’t exactly known as cheesecake until the 15th century. Its earliest version had more of leavened yeast and is different from the modern type that originated in New York which is more of cream cheese.

Eventually, it evolved and by the 18th century, Europeans started removing yeast and added beaten eggs to the recipe for cheesecake.

This substitution made cheesecakes taste more like dessert treats especially as the traditional flavor of yeast was gone for good.

As this new recipe spread across borders, other variations were invented with some adding fresh butter to the ingredients. So, bread, yeast, and their flavors are gone, but the name remains to this day.

Cheesecake is very different from what we know cakes to be. Cakes were modifications of bread that have evolved into much more. To be a cake, a pastry must have flour, sugar, butter, and baking powder among other ingredients. Cheesecakes lack these.

In form, they might look like cakes but a cheesecake is no cake. It though remains an incredible dessert that has found a place for itself somewhere between a pie and a tart.

Is Cheesecake A Pie?

Cheesecakes are baked in a pie crust, but does that make cheesecake a pie? Some features of the cheesecake make it look like a pie. For example, the soft filling and crust make it look much like a pie.

Also, a cheesecake and pie are both dry. Looking at both of these reasons, one might easily conclude that cheesecake is a pie.

However, a pie is made of flour. Are cheesecakes made of flour? No. The top cover or dressing is a prominent portion of cheesecakes. A pie does not have top dressing. So, what do we make of the ongoing analogy?

Even though many Americans consider cheesecakes a type of pie, the truth here is simple: its overall structure might qualify it as a pie but it is technically not one.  

Is Cheesecake A Tart?

A tart is a smaller pie made of a well-buttered crust. It often has a pastry base with a filling over it. This filling can be either custard or fruit-based.

They are indeed baked in a pan, but it also has a pastry ring on top so that the baking sheets can be unmolded before they are served.

Tarts are also very similar to cheesecakes by structure. When it is filled with cream cheese instead of custard, it automatically becomes cheesecake right? Also, cheesecakes are often topped with fruits just like tarts. Still, it technically isn’t.

Read also: Does Peach Cobbler Need to be Refrigerated?

Is Cheesecake A Cake?

It’s easy to conclude that they are cakes especially since they are technically not pies nor tarts. More so, the name has ‘cake’ in it. But here is another reality: cakes are bread-like and yes, they rise. Cheesecakes don’t.

Cakes are made from flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and leavening. From this list, cheesecakes have only two ingredients: eggs and sugar.

So basically, even though they are called cheesecakes, they are not cakes.

So, what can we conclude? Cheesecakes are neither cakes nor pies but very much like tarts. Since we cannot categorically call them tarts, we can say that they are desserts that transcend definition; in a category of their own.

Read also: Raw Vs Cooked Shrimp – What’s the Difference?

Fun Facts About Cheesecake?

  • Cheesecakes may have originated from the ancient Greek island of Samos. One source says athletes participating in the first Olympics (776 B.C.) were served cheesecakes
  • The Greeks used the following ingredients then: flour, honey, and cheese. On baking the mixture, they named it cheesecake.
  • The largest cheesecake on record was made on January 25, 2009, in Mexico. It weighed 4703 pounds.
  • The National Cheesecake Day is celebrated on July 30th
  • The American cheesecake was invented by mistake in the late 1800s. New York dairyman, William Lawrence was trying to recreate a soft French cheese when he made what is now known as the American cheesecake.