Cheesecake bars, inspired by Thilo’s russian pluck cake

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My former flatmate Thilo used to make this unbelievably yummy cake called “Russischer Zupfkuchen” (Russian pluck cake, roughly translated) and ever since he moved out, my other flatmates requested I should bake it. He always just threw all ingredients into a bowl, eyeballing the amounts, never measuring anything exactly but always got a beautiful and tasty cake. Wonder how he did that, lots of experience perhaps?

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When doing some research about the origin of russian pluck cake, I figured out that it does not really seem to be a russian cake. What’s funny is that there are said to be cakes like this one in some regions of russia, but apparently they’re called “German cake”.

Soft cheesecake with a crumbly chocolate crust, sprinkled with the remaining chocolate dough plucked into chunks, that’s basically what russian pluck cake is. It is pretty popular here in Germany, people tend to like the combination of cocoa and moist cheesecake filling, especially my flatmates. So I made a whole baking tray and cut the cake into nice handy bars. Turns out that I like cake bars, somehow. You can cut them into smaller bars and eat them piece by piece, enjoying every crumb, or just dig in, if you’re in a hurry and late for an exam like me this morning.

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Enough of the cake shape philosophy, here’s the recipe. As I am not as talented and/or experienced as Thilo, I wrote all the measurements down for you.

This version of russian pluck cake is rather heavy on the eggs and the vanilla, my flatmates seem to like that, but I think you could also vary  a little with the ingredients.

Cheesecake bars with chocolate crust
makes one baking tray
Ingredients – for the crust:
250g butter
400g flour
50g cocoa powder
3 tsps. baking powder
200g granulated sugar
2 eggs
for the filling:
1 kg low-fat quark
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
3 tbsps. vanilla
250g butter, melted
250g granulated sugar
60g corn starch, sifted
3 eggs
  • Put flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and granulated sugar into a bowl and mix well. Add 2 eggs and 250g butter (cut into small chunks) and knead until everything is combined. Roll batter into a ball, cover with clingfoil and cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Line a baking tray (mine was about 55cm x 36cm) with baking paper, set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees C/350 degrees F.
  • For the filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until homogenous.
  • Roll 2/3 of the dough out on the prepared baking tray, form a surrounding edge. Pinch the crust a few times with a fork.
  • Pour the cheesecake filling onto the prepared crust and spread evenly.
  • Pluck the remaining dough into chunks (or use cookie cutters to portion it) and put them on top of the cheesecake filling.
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. When cooled, cut the cake into bars and enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Cheesecake bars, inspired by Thilo’s russian pluck cake

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