Traditional Polish Cheesecake {Sernik}

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Traditional Polish cheesecake. 

Cheesecake. The queen of Polish desserts. There are many varieties of it in Poland, this is the most simple and most traditional. Sernik [sehr-neek] is a simple dessert, made from farmer’s cheese and eggs with a few additions. As intimidating as it may sound it is not hard to make and if I can make it, even the least experienced home chef can make it. Trust me. Traditional Polish cheesecake. 

When I was growing up sernik was reserved for special occasions only. Normally exclusively for Christmas and Easter. Grandma would then use a large clay pot with grooves on the inside called “makutra” and a wooden tool called “pałka”. Like this: Traditional Polish cheesecake. 

Traditional Polish cheesecake. 
“Makutra and pałka” Source: etnomuzeum.eu/zbiory/makutra

She’d sit on a low kitchen stool with the bowl between her legs – I know you’re imagining this in your head right now 🙂 Starting with egg yolks and sugar she’d slowly add the rest of the ingredients until all was combined into a smooth batter. We would switch and take turns stirring because sooner or later our arm hurt too much to go on. Traditional Polish cheesecake. 

I don’t use makutra or pałka today, but modern cooking tools, which it pretty handy, considering I’m not a super experienced baker. A blender and a mixer will be enough to complete this task, so don’t be shy.

Traditional Polish Cheesecake {Sernik}

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr + cooling

Ingredients

  • 2 lb / 1 kg of farmer's cheese*
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup / 110g of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup / 200 ml of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbs of potato flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbs of milk

Instructions

  1. Place farmer's cheese in a food processor with a blade attachment and blend until smooth (about 5-6 minutes) and until most lumps are gone.

  2. Preheat oven to 165°C / 330°F.

  3. Separate egg yolks from egg whites and place egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and whisk on high for 2-3 minutes, until well blended.

  4. In a separate bowl mix whipping cream with flour and vanilla.

  5. Change whisk to a mixing paddle and add whipping cream mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix just until combined. Continuously mixing add blended cheese. Mix just until blended.

  6. In a separate bowl whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt to form a stiff foam. Gently fold into cheese mixture.

  7. Prepare a 10 inch / 25 cm spring form by cutting out a circle in parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom. With a little bit of butter and your fingers grease the inner side of spring pan and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Shake off access.

  8. In a small bowl with a fork combine 1 egg yolk with milk.

  9. Gently spoon cheese mixture into pan, even out. Spoon egg yolk/milk mixture onto the top on cheesecake batter.

  10. Bake for 1 hour. If the top starts to brown too much, cover with a piece of tin foil. Turn oven off and let cake cool in the oven for about 10 min, then crack the door and let cool completely.

Notes

Best to let cheesecake rest in the fridge overnight before serving.

Mine turned out irregular and a bit dark this time, but it tastes amazing. It’s soft and moist and just sweet enough. I sprinkled it with some powdered sugar to “even” the color out and it works for me. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Happy baking my hungry friends!

Smacznego!

Anna

* farmer’s cheese can be found in many large grocery stores these days. If no luck finding it, you can always make your own. Easy recipe here.

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19 Comments

  1. Although, I am Ukrainian, not Polish, I found your site very interesting. Many of our recipes are the same, as are our traditions. There are some variations on names and ingredients, but very similar. Thanks, for posting.

  2. Thank you for your recipes! I can’t wait to try them out. They bring back some very nice childhood memories.

  3. Your site is really wonderful Anna.
    Thanks so much for all the fantastic information and demonstrations.
    I was fascinated to hear about Poland and all the early childhood memories of favourite family food from our friends last night. I’d love to surprise them with an all polish menu when they come over next time.
    I’m really looking forward to trying your recipes.

  4. My Nana used to make a Polish cheesecake that had a lattice pattern across it made with pastry. It was amazing. Do you know what I am talking about and do you have a recipe for this?

  5. Right here is the perfect web site for anybody who hopes
    to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with
    you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a new spin on a topic that has been written about for
    a long time. Excellent stuff, just excellent!

  6. I grew up in a Polish American family. Anyway I made your cheesecake recipe and it came out beautifully. I can’t wait to share it with everyone this Christmas Eve! 🙂

  7. When you say to whisk the egg whites to a stiff foam do you mean the egg whites should be whisked until they are stiff peaks?

  8. Hi Anna, I had some farmer’s cheese but just 1lb. so I halved the recipe, and baked it in a 8″ pan. I think it maybe over baked. It’s a cake for my birthday, and it’s in the fridge until tomorrow, so we’ll see if it worked out at all. How can you tell when this cake is done?

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