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Cake with Grated White Cheese in it ?

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While growing up in Montreal, I had a friend whose mother came from Latvia. She used to make a really delicious plain white cake that she called "cheese cake" because it had grated white cheese in it (mixed through it). You could use any white cheese, like Havarti, or Mozzarella, or Colby, etc. And you would eat it like a snacking cake - no icing.
I've looked everywhere to find a recipe for this cake, and I've tried a few of my own versions, but I can't quite nail it.
And I'm not sure if it was even a Latvian cake, because I asked a different Latvian lady about it a couple of months ago, and it didn't ring a bell with her.
Does anybody have a recipe?

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  1. Try an Italian recipe called Torta Umbra al Formaggio. I really think you're looking for more a "shredded" cheese recipe as opposed to say a grated cheese recipe. 'Grated' implies a harder, longer-aged cheese. "Shredded" suggests a softer more mild cheese (like Colby, etc).

    Have a look at this anyway --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2-YR0...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cheese Boy

      You're right - I meant a shredded cheese, not a grated cheese. Thanks for the recipe suggestion, but it's way off.

    2. I'm guessing it's a quick-bread base -- the French have a lot of savoury "cakes" -- the recipes are what we used to call bread when we were kids -- zucchini bread, tomato bread -- are called cake (and indeed the English word 'cake' is used for the savoury ones, while 'gateau' is saved for sweet versions)

      A roundabout way of saying that perhaps you could look for some sort of cheese bread.

      8 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Thanks for the suggestions. But it's definitely a sweet cake, with sugar, vanilla, and eggs. It's not a bread.

        1. re: succeed

          Interesting....but I'm stumped.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Ditto on stumped. I have googled and done cookbook research and even called a friend whose mom still speaks Lettish, and there's nothing even close to what you're describing in Latvian baking that I can find. Closest is teacakes and coffee cakes and babkas made with cottage, pot or farmer's cheese. I don't think it's actually Latvian even though the person the recipe sprang from may well have been. Closest I could get is Wensley Cake, but that's more of a spice cake from the UK with cheese shredded into it, and it's definitely not white. I thought the "bread" idea might be a good one to follow up on, but nothing there either. You might be needing to work up what you've already started experimenting with: I'd head for a fairly dense and moist base in order to support the weight of the cheese, and I'd toss the shredded cheese with a t. of flour before incorporating it gently, to stop it all sinking to the bottom. Try to think of the predominant flavor: I'm betting almond, brandy or vanilla. Then start playing with white cake bases. Good luck to you; I find this very interesting. If you get more information, please do report back. Thanks!

            1. re: mamachef

              "Closest is teacakes and coffee cakes and babkas made with cottage, pot or farmer's cheese." <-- this was my thought too, and that this recipe started out as a "make do with what's available" sort of thing and eventually became the official recipe because it worked! There are SO MANY recipes like this in my family cookbook -- stuff that couldn't possibly have been made originally with velveeta or grape jelly or whatever, but that came to be that way out of necessity and availability! :)

              1. re: mamachef

                Mamachef, where did you find a recipe for Wensley Cake? I've been intrigued since I read about it in one of Laurie Colwin's books, but can't find a recipe that actually has cheese in it.

                1. re: Cliocooks

                  Clio, I'll find the recipe proper and get it to you here - but from what I understand and remember about the Colwin recipe, she made the cake and left the cheese out, but stated that it was "supposed to contain a layer of Wensley cheese". I think you can make her recipe, split the layer, and add your shredded cheese; then recap with other layer half. Should be done while warm.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Thanks, Mamachef. I've always wished that she had included the cheese int he recepe. I think she said she liked it but her husband didn't. I've never been sure whether the cheese would be added to the cooked cake, as you describe, or actually a layer put in before baking (batter, then cheese, then batter, then bake. If you have a recipe to share I'd love to see it, or I guess I could experiment.

                2. re: mamachef

                  Thanks for the suggestions. Actually I made this cake decades ago, and I remember you would just throw the shredded cheese into the batter - no tossing it in flour first. The cheese would be incorporated beautifully into the cake. You could definitely taste the cheese, but it was not overpowering, because it was such a mild cheese to begin with. Second to the taste of the cheese was the sweetness, with just a hint of vanilla. The cake also had a great texture. I guess I'll continue experimenting (which is a great excuse to eat a lot of cake :).

          2. This is totally random, but you MIGHT actually try finding your old friend on FaceBook, and asking her for the recipe, iffen you do find her. I wasn't seeking recipes, but I have found SO many old friends (and some new) that way.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mamachef

              Ha, ha - cool idea. But her name is so common, there are probably thousands out there with it. And she's probably been married 3 times by now :)

            2. I came across this recipe for a sweet/savory breakfast cake from El Salvador while browsing Food52 the website the other day. It's made with rice flour but otherwise sounds similar to what you are looking for.

              http://www.food52.com/recipes/12535_s...

              Good luck with you search.

              2 Replies
              1. re: potato or yam

                Wow, that's a really close recipe - I'm gonna have to definitely try it right away. I'll leave out the sesame seeds, and substitute regular wheat flour, maybe add some vanilla, but that recipe is a really great starting point. Thanks so much for posting this !

                1. re: succeed

                  Glad to help! Let us know how it turns out.

              2. I checked in with a friend of mine who is part Latvian and lived in Latvia recently. She checked with Latvian family members. They don't have any idea what this might have been. The closest they could come up with is cottage cheese bread, which she described as a very dense cake. The shredded cheese drew a blank for them. Hopefully the El Salvadoran recipe comes close for you!

                1. Ensaymada is a brioche-style Filipino bread that is topped with grated cheddar.