Country Cheesecake

This Polish-style cheesecake is a favorite in Martha's family.

Prep Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 15 mins

A favorite recipe from Martha's mom (who in turn got the recipe from her mother, Martha’s grandmother), this rustic cheesecake is an Easter tradition in the Kostyra family. 

Instead of the usual cream cheese filling and graham cracker crust, this sernik or Polish-style cheesecake has a light, creamy filling made with tangy farmer cheese, sour cream, and plump golden raisins. Lemon and orange zest are the secret ingredients that complement the creamy filling. The crust is a rich pie crust-like pastry made with flour, confectioners’ sugar, butter, egg yolks, and sour cream. Once you try it, you may never go back to your old cheesecake!



  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar

  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

  • Ice-cold water


  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh farmer cheese

  • ½ cup sour cream

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)

  • Grated zest of 1 orange (2 teaspoons)

  • ½ cup golden raisins

  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • Unsalted butter, for pan


  1. Make the dough:

    Sift together flour, confectioners' sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Sift again. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add butter; pulse until largest pieces are the size of peas. Add egg yolks and sour cream; pulse until dough just begins to come together. If dough is too dry, add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until dough comes together. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm but pliable, at least 1 hour.

  2. Preheat the oven, prepare the pan, roll out the dough and fit:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in center. Lightly butter a 10-inch round springform pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 15-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Fit dough into bottom and up side of pan. With a paring knife, trim dough to about 1/2 inch below the rim. Crimp edges with the tines of a fork. Freeze until firm, 10 minutes.

  3. Blind bake crust:

    Line dough with parchment. Fill with dried beans or pie weights; bake until crust is firm and dry, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove parchment and beans; let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

  4. Make the filling:

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs and egg white on medium speed until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in granulated sugar to combine. Add farmer cheese, sour cream, lemon and orange zests, raisins, and vanilla; mix until fully combined. Transfer filling to cooled crust.

  5. Bake and cool cheesecake:

    Bake until set at edges but still slightly wobbly in center, 50 to 55 minutes (if cheesecake is browning too quickly, tent edges of crust with foil). Transfer to wire rack; let cool completely. Refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours; serve.

    slices of cheesecake on plates
    Bryan Gardner

You can follow Mrs. Kostyra's lead and pass the farmer cheese through the fine filter of a food mill for a more old-world texture.

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