Who doesn’t want a piece of cheesecake? Cheesecake is one of the most famous and most delicious desserts. Many people think that cheesecake originated in northern Europe, and that it travelled to America with the European migration and settled in New York, hence the famous baked New York cheesecake.
But the ancient Greeks had their version of cheesecake thousand years before New York even existed as a city.
In ancient Greece, cheesecake was given to the athletes at the first Olympic games in 776 B.C. to provide them with energy.
Cheesecake was also used in ancient Greece as a wedding cake. Greek brides baked and served cheesecake to her new husband’s friends as a gesture of hospitality. This tradition of making wedding cakes continues even today.
The first earliest recorded Greek cheesecake recipe was made by the writer Athenaeus in 230 A.D. This is the oldest known surviving Greek recipe. The recipe itself was pretty simple: pound the cheese until it is smooth mix it in a brass pan with honey and spring wheat flour, heat the cheesecake “in one mass”, allow to cool, then serve.
When Romans conquered Greece, they modified the cheesecake recipe by adding crushed cheese and eggs, and they served it warm. They called their cheesecake “libuma” and served it on special occasions. Eventually, the recipe spread to Northern and Eastern Europe. Locals began to experiment, with every region using its native ingredients to put their own unique spin on cheesecake.
When the first cookbook was printed in 1545, the cheesecake was described as a flour-based sweet food.
In the late 19th century in New York, cream cheese was invented, which quickly became the most popular type of cheese used for cheesecakes.
Through the years, the ingredients and the process of baking have evolved, and now there are countless recipes for how to prepare cheesecake, but everyone still owes this divine treat to the Greeks.