Introduction: How to Make QUARK and Create a Nice Cheesecake With It - Even for Diabetics

About: I like to improve myself and things I find :) Learning new things every day is next to impossible but I still try - only a working brain can work. I have no special sector to cover, electronics, electrical stu…

Update 19/04/2015: The images and videos are up now, enjoy :)

Note: My phone messed up with the pictures I made during the process, so there are currently none included.
I will make another cake from scratch over the weekend and add the pics accordingly, so if you need them please wait a few days before trying.

If you found this Instructable than I can think of two reasons why:
a) you have no clue what QUARK is
b) you do know what it is but can't get it anywhere (at least not at reasonable costs)

I am type B and here in Australia I would have to pay around 15$ for 500g of good quality quark.
As my great grandmother was using the old ways of cooking and baking I had a chance to learn how make a good cheesecake entirely from scratch, so I though I would share it with you.

Step 1: What Is Quark and Why Would I Need It???

Quark is not really a cheese in the traditional way but it no yogurt either.

If you ask someone in Europe he might tell you it is a soft cheese made with special cultures or he might say it is a type of yogurt - I think both are right in some way.
What counts is the fact that you can make it home very easy and in mayn different ways, although most are forgotten in our fast paced ready meal society.

Quark on it's own is a nice dessert to mix fruits in, put over your cerials or use as a dipping with some herbs and spices if you like.
Add some thickend cream to it and you have a thing close to a sweet yogurt but with the real tast of milk still in it.

A traditional cheescake is based on quark although some prefer other soft cheese like ricotta, philadelphia or whatever is labeled as a "soft cheese" even cottage cheese.
I call those cheesecakes american cheesecakes as they reflect the US taste for things they know over things they never heard of ;) (No offence!!)

Quark is relatively sweet (at least if done the way I will show you), so you don't need much sugar for the cheesecake and a diabetic can do perfectly fine without any sugar at all in the entire cake mix - I will come to that point later.

If you don't know what quark is you should still try to make some - you might be very surprised and actually like it.

Step 2: How to Make Quark at Home

Things you will need:
* a few good sized mixing bowls
* a good sized sieve, like the one used to drain salad, although a normal metal one will do if it is big enough
* milk - fresh and full cream, no long life milk, the stuff that stays fresh for months is not that good for our needs
* Vinegar or lemon juice/orange juice - makes no real difference as we only need the acid and it won't go into the final
product, alhtough lemon and orange juice can add to the flavour
* dish washing cloth or similar, just something to drain that is not too fine, an old shirt will do too ;)
* some twine, cord or similar
* a place to hang the quark to drain

As we work with fresh milk and create something that has no preservatives we need to work clean!!
All tools, bolws, cloth and so on should be rinsed with boiling water to prevent conamination with germs and bugs.
(Don't worry too much as the final product will be eaten faster than you think ;) )
Have the milk at room temperature before you start.

Ok, let's do it....
Put the milk in a good sized bowl or pot - one liter makes 300-350grams of quark depending on high the fat content of the milk is.
Per liter of milk add about three tablespoos of vinegar or juice.

Please note the milk in pics is only to show - I used fresh milk but already had it in another bowl.

Stir well for about a minute to make sure all is evenly mixed.
Put it your oven at about 40° celsius (about 105° F) for about 20-30 minutes - using a thermometer here is a good idea to make sure you won't go too high with the temp.
It is enough to have the oven set to (and checked) to 40 degrees and to place the bowl in, you can turn the oven off after that as the remaining heat should be enough to warm it up.
If you are in a warm climate it is enough to leave the bowl as it is.
Now place the bowl somewhere to let it seperate the quark from the rest.
The rest will be whey if my english serve me right and some like it as a drink.
It takes 16-30 hours for a nice seperation.
You will see the milk starts to look like buttermilk and might even have some clumps floating around - that is a good sign.

You can check the progress by stirring the mix slowly, if it thickens up and you have a lot of lumps it is perfect.
In most cases you will only see "milk" some yellowish liquid (whey) and some lumps - that is still ok if after a few hours it still does not thicken further.

If it looks like in the below video you need to wait a little longer and maybe even add a bit more lemon juice or vinegar to it:

What you get at this stage hugely depends on the milk you used!
Full cream with 3.5% or more fat will be smoother, will low fat milk can be quite clumpy.
You can speed the seperation up by heating it now again to about 40° Celsius (105°F) and should get bigger lumps.

Do a test with the cloth:
Make it wet (this helps so the quark won't stick to it) and put a bit of your mix in it to drain.
If it drips out milky white it is not ready yet, you only want to see a clear to yellowish liquid dripping out.
(Once you got a feeling for it you won't need this test anymore)

If all is looking good cover the sieve with the cloth and start filling it.
Here you can see a video that shows how the quark / whey mix looks after warming it up so it is ready:

Let it drip for a little while if your sieve can't hold all the mix at once.

If it looks like this you are ready to hang it up to drip out for a few hours:

When done let the sieve rest on the pot or sink for a while until you see the quark is shrinking enough to bind the cloth into a nice bag.
Hang the bag and let it drip out over night.

The quark is ready when there is no dripping anymore.
You can use it now as it is but I prefer to use a spoon and to press it all through a fine sieve as it gives a much nicer texture - also required if you want to use it for a good cake.
Using full cream milk should result in a fairly "sweet" quark, unlike natural yogurt for example.
If you are diabetic and like it a bit sweeter you can use liquid sweetener or dissovle some artificial (or natural) sweetener in a little bit of milk or cream and mix it under.

We created a product from fresh milk without any preservatives at all (I don't like them much).
This means if your milk was good for another week before you started the process that you should consume the quark within this time.
Also once ready always keep the quark in a sealed container in your fridge.
Once it starts to smell or taste sour it is time to discard it!
If you use it for cooking or baking it is a different story though ;)

You want to make a traditional cheesecake now?
Check the next step ;)

Step 3: How to Make a Traditional Cheesecake Now

A word for our diabetics first:
If you can't use sugar you can substitude with liquid sweetener according to the instructions on your product.
Sugar replacements like flakes or poweder can be used too, although you migh want to check different recipes for an alternative shortcrust if your sugar substitude is not suitable for baking needs.
Sugar or sweetener is suggest for the recipe but for anything with fruits in the mix you might not need any!

What you need to get this:

* a spring form - those round one where you can take the rim off
* hand mixer with a good speed and good power
* a few good sized bowls
* baking paper (opional)
* a sharp knife
Ingredients (note that all is based on the right look and feel - if you ever made a cake you know what I mean):
Take as a guide only and adjust while you mix.
* about 100-150g unsalted butter
* 3 or 4 eggs depending on the size of the cake
* about 250g of flour - just flour, no self raising flour!
* a pinch of salt
* vanilla bean or crystals (optional)
* a bit of milk (about 200ml)
* lemon / orange juice or skin (optional, just for the good taste)
* about 400-700g quark, depending of the size of your spring form. Mine is 24cm in diameter and I use around 600g.
* other things you like in you cake, like schokolade flakes, fruits and so on (optional)

Step one, the shortcurst to hold our cake:
Per heat oven to 170°, 160° if fan forced (340°F/320°F)
Seperate the white from one egg and put aside, add the yoke to your mixing bowl.
Add a little bit of milk and some flour.
Add about 50g of the butter, it helps to heat it up to a liquid.
Start mixing.
You can add about 50g of sugar if you prefer a sweet shortcurst, it also helps with the texture but is fully optional.
Diabetics please refer to the instructions on their sugar replacement.
Keep adding flour so you end up with a lot of lumps instead of proper dough.
For a 24cm spring form you will need an amount that is slightly bigger than a tennis ball, a lot more if you like your cake with a thick crust.
So keep adding flour and milk until you have enough - too much is no problem as you can use the leftovers for some quick cookies ;)
Mix the dough with your hands to form a nice ball, it should be quite firm and keep it's shape to be right.
Now either use some flour on your benchtop or two sheets of baking paper (with the dough between them) to roll the dough flat.
You want it at least 3mm thick for a good crust, about 5mm for thick crust that can fully support the final cake.
Now you know why I said the ingredients are a guide only ;)
Place the closed rim of your spring form on the dough to get an imprint you can cut out.
At this stage you want to have enough dough left around to cover the rim of your form at least 2mm thick.
Either roll the cut out dough up or slide the plate of your spring form under it - if it NOT non-stick you need to grease it up a bit first.
Put the rim on the plate and use the leftove dough to cover the entire rim and also press it into the bottom part a bit so you get a closed "container".
Place in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on the top - take out when ready and don't forget it!

While the shortcrust is baking we can move on the filling that makes the actual cheesecake.
Take the previously collected egg white and seperate two more to mix them up really stiff.
Set aside when done.
In a new bowl add the egg joke, a bit of milk and if you like / need up to 100g of sugar (beware might be really sweet!).
Start mixing and add a bit of flour to thicken it up slightly - about the consistency of pancake mix.
If you have another bowl left you can make some whipped cream, otherwise add some cream to the mix now.
Add the quark and keep mixing to get an even consistency.
If the mix is lumpy and quite hard add some more cream or milk - here we want to end up a bit thicker than pancake mix.
In case you want to add some raisins or fruits, not would be a good time.
For the traditional slightly fruity taste you add now lemon or orange juice until you reach the taste that suits you - this is optional though if you like it more sweet or already used other fruits in the mix.
When done use a spatula, spoon or similar to lift the beaten egg white under the mix.
Try to do this carefully as a nice fluffy mix here makes a nicer cake when baked.
Without beating the egg white first and without whipped cream you will get a more compact cheesecake.
Fill your spring form with the mix and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Take out and make a cut around the rim at a distance of about 1cm - this will create the nice "broken" look on the finnished cake.
Bake for another 30 minutes.
If you see the top turning really dark before the time is up reduce the heat!

Open the door of the oven slightly, turn it off and let the cake rest in there for another 10 minutes.
Now the cake is ready to be taken out and to be seperated from the form.
Place the cake without the plate of your form on a cooling rack - this will give it the nice crunchy texture for the the crust.
Wait till the cake has cooled down before you eat it! ;)