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Chicago Deli Cheesecake

 -----Original Message----- 
 From: Chris 
 Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 9:13 PM
 Subject: light fluffy cheesecake

 Back in the 50’s and 60’s in Chicago there were many places that sold  these 4 by 4 by 8 inch squares of the most light and fluffy cheesecakes. 
 They were ubiquitous in the ethnic delis all over Chicago.  In my search I  have read that Reuter’s bakery in Chicago used to sell them but the 
 baker  took the recipe with him when he died.  Another source said that the now  closed Nelson’s Swedish bakery also had this type of cheesecake.  
 I have not found this cheesecake anywhere currently. Can you help?


Hello Chris,

Well, let's see if I have enough information to find this recipe:

Reuter's Bakery in Chicago is a going concern. However, I cannot find any mention of a cheesecake sold by them. They have a web page at: Reuter's Bakery

I cannot find any mention of "Nelson's Swedish Bakery" at all. I did find a Swedish Bakery in Chicago, but no mention of their cheesecake. See: Swedish Bakery

Looking for "deli cheesecake" brings "Eli's Cheesecake", but no way to tell if any of them are what you want. See: Eli's Cheesecake

"Light and fluffy" is not helpful in finding this recipe. It's not a unique identifier. Anyone might describe their cheesecake as "light and fluffy."

In order to try and identify this recipe, I must have some sort of unique identifier such as the names and types of popular ethnic delis that sold it (Jewish? German? etc) or the type of cheesecake that it was (New York Style? Philadelphia style? etc).

I didn't have any success finding a type of cheesecake that was particular to Chicago.

You might be able to find out more about it by posting on some Chicago nostalgia message boards/forums. If you get more information about it, write me back and I'll try again.

I'll post this for reader input.


-----Original Message----- 
From: Chris 
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 10:17 AM
To: Phaedrus
Subject: Re: light fluffy cheesecake

The cheesecake was tall, airy and a light rectangle. It was at Polish and Jewish deli s. Eli's has the dense flat cheesecakes.

Hi Chris,

Descriptions of the way it's served - in squares, and descriptions of how it looked - "tall, airy... rectangle," are just not any help to me in locating such a recipe. Such descriptions are rarely part of a recipe.

Since it was served in Polish Delis, it might be "Sernik", although there is more than one Polish style of cheesecake. Look at these:

Sernik Recipe

Traditional Polish Cheesecake

SD Polish Deli

Top Polish Cheesecake Recipes

As for Jewish cheesecake, there are so many varieties that the fact it was sold in a Jewish Deli is not helpful. Look at the photos here and click on the image to get more information:

Pictures of Jewish Cheesecake


none of these are like the one i remember.  it was almost foamy in texture and shaped like a tall brick.  thanks for your help.

Again, this reader should find Chicago nostalgia message boards or forums and post on them, asking if anyone remembers more about this cheesecake. It's different enough from ordinary cheesecake that it must have a unique name. Responses from current and former Chicago bakery and deli employees would be helpful.

Hey Phaed:

I’ve been told “Chicago Style Cheesecake” is lightened (made less dense) with the addition of beaten egg whites. 
Here is one of the recipes I use.   
Timm in Oregon

Chicago Style Cheesecake


For the Crust:
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups fine Zwieback crumbs or substitute with graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar

For the Filling:
Two 8 ounce packages cream cheese softened to room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks, unbeaten
2 cups thick sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
5 large egg whites, beaten stiff


For the Crust: Finely grind the Zwieback. Combine all of the ingredients and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring pan.

For the Filling: Blend the sugar and cream cheese until well combined and smooth. Add the egg yolks one at a time only 
beating each egg only until just incorporated. Add the sour cream, vanilla and lemon juice; mix well until smooth. 
Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the mixture. Whisk in a little egg white first to lighten and 
then gently fold in the rest. Pour the mixture into the prepared spring pan on top of the crust.

Bake the cheesecake for1 hour at 300F degrees. Turn off the heat and let cake remain for 1 hour longer with door closed. 
Open door and let cake remain at least 30 to 60 minutes longer. The slow cooling is important to make sure the cheesecake 
doesn't crack. Chill the cheesecake for several hours or overnight if possible. You can place a fruit glaze of choice on 
top after the cheesecake has cooled.

Particular Sugar Cookies

From: Darcy 
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 10:58 PM
Subject: Very specific sugar cookie recipe


  I just stumbled upon your site while looking for the long lost approved (but not longer) canned bread recipe.   
although I badly want that recipe which was developed by one of the university canning departments, I'm writing 
this email in regards to a sugar cookie recipe.

  When my mother was a child in about 1974, she accompanied her mother to a garage sale.  The woman having that 
sale offered sugar cookies.  They were the rolled out kind, and cut with a around cookie cutter and they all had 
a air bubble in them creating a thin crust on top of the cookie.  They were not pie dough cookies.   They were 
like most rolled sugar cookies except for this inexplicable air bubble.  When my mother had one, she gasped and 
begged her mother to ask for the recipe.   The garage sale woman said she could go write it down but this 
embarrassed her mother and she said no and that they had to be going.   This took place in WI in case that 
information is relevant.  My mother has search for that recipe ever since.   My mother is gone now so it is I 
who carries the torch just so that I may include this recipe, hopefully, in the family history book.   

I thank you for your time,

Hi Darcy,

I cannot find any sugar cookie recipe in which an air bubble is part and parcel of the recipe. Air bubbles do sometimes occur in sugar cookies while they are baking, but they are considered a problem to be avoided, not a positive characteristic of a particular recipe. I doubt that you’ll find this by concentrating on the air bubble.

Darcy, if you want me to try to find your “canned bread” recipe, send me some detailed information about the recipe and I’ll have a go at it.


Almost Home Cookies

-----Original Message----- 
From: lydia 
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 5:39 AM
Subject: recipe request


I really enjoy your site and admire the hard work you make to help others. I was hoping you could help me, too. 
I am a child of the 80's, and have been feeling real nostalgic lately. One thing I miss and have fond memories of, 
yet for some reason no one else seems to recall them, are "Almost Home" iced oatmeal cookies. Oatmeal raisin 
(especially iced) are FAR from my favorite, but I loved theirs, it was that good! What made them stand out is that 
they were so outrageously soft, moist flavorful and chewy. The same goes for their chocolate chip. One time, in an 
attempt of fulfilling a craving for almost home chocolate chip cookies, I made the mistake of picking up a package 
of Keebler "Soft Batch" choc. chip cookies. Bleh!! So tasteless and rubbery! I hear the reason A.H. cookies were 
discontinued is because soft chewy cookies were unpopular, especially among adults. Huh?

Yes, I checked your site for help and read your disclaimer on your recipe request page, just so you know! 
Your help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Hi Lydia,

Sorry, I had no success finding a copycat recipe for "Almost Home" oatmeal raisin cookies, or even a recipe that claimed to be a "tastes-like".

I found a couple of recipes that called themselves "Almost Home Chocolate Chip Cookies". They might be worth a try. See:

Almost Home Cookies

Nancy's Kitchen

I'll post this for reader input.


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