Quark (pronounced “kwark”), is a fresh cheese that is very common in Europe, where it mostly is eaten as a spread on bread–much the way we use cream cheese–or mixed with fruit or herbs and eaten like yogurt. Master cheesemaker Bob Wills, an alumnus of the CALS Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and owner of Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain, may be credited with bringing quark to our state. He’s producing it at Clock Shadow Creamery, his new cheese plant in Milwaukee. You can buy quark there or in a number of supermarkets under the Cedar Grove label–or you can be bold and try making your own. It’s easier to make than yogurt and requires no special equipment. You’ll need three cups to make the scrumptious German cheesecake recipe we provide below. Here’s a quark recipe from Mike Molitor, CDR process pilot plant manager.
Makes 1 1/3 cups of quark
4 cups whole milk
3 Tablespoons buttermilk with live cultures
Use a large pan with a lid. Heat milk to about 170°F for at least 30 seconds. It’s fine if a skin forms on it, but avoid scalding the milk to prevent a cooked or burnt flavor.
Remove from heat, put on the lid and let milk cool to room temperature. Then whisk buttermilk into the milk. Replace the lid and let the milk sit undisturbed at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours or until it’s the consistency of yogurt.
Once the milk has curdled, strain it by layering a sieve with cheesecloth, pouring the milk into the sieve and allowing it to drain overnight in the refrigerator. What’s left in the sieve is quark. You may need to stir the quark a few times to get it to drain thoroughly.
Even Easier, Buttermilk Only
Instead of adding buttermilk to plain milk—a process that essentially means you are “making” buttermilk—you can simply purchase a gallon of buttermilk (typically 1 percent butterfat) and strain it in the refrigerator as directed in the last paragraph above to obtain the quark.
KASEKUCHEN RECIPE (German Cheesecake with Quark)
¼ cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup wheat flour (can substitute white flour)
¼ cup white refined sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups quark
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup white refined sugar
½ cup dry milk powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
Powdered sugar for dusting cake
To make dough:
Mix eggs and sugar thoroughly. Combine wheat flour and baking powder. Cut butter (in small pieces) into flour mixture. Add egg/sugar mixture. Knead all into combined homogenous dough ball. Take 2/3 of dough and roll flat ¼ inch thick. Place in bottom of spring form pan. Take the 1/3 and make a long roll (like a snake), place around the outer edge and press into place (create a little rim).
To make filling:
Combine cornstarch, sugar, dry milk powder, and salt. Combine with quark. Separate egg. Mix egg yolks and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly with quark mixture. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold gently into the quark mixture. Spread the filling onto the dough in the spring form pan.
Bake at 325 F for 45-55 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
Where to find quark from Clock Shadow Creamery:
Cheesecake recipe courtesy of Clock Shadow Creamery