Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen


July 16th, 2012 by Carolyn

When you hear the extraordinary word CHEESECAKE, a lot of us think about New York Cheesecake with strawberries on top or a chocolate drizzle, or this place:





Yes… that place, the one where you eat until you hate yourself, and then you get 3 more slices for the way home.







You read that right, the way home. Apparently our cheesecake loving roots go way back, here in the Colonial Foodways Dept. we have quite a few 17th century cheesecake recipes, including this one…




To make Cheesecakes.

Take 6 quarts of stroakings or new milke & whey it with runnet as for an ordinary cheese, then put it in a streyner & hang it on a pin or else press it with 2 pound weight. then break it very small with your hands or run it through a sive, then put to it 7 or 8 eggs well beaten, 3 quarters of a pound of currans, half a pound of sugar, a nutmeg grated or some cloves & mace beaten, 2 or 3 spoonfuls of rosewater, a little salt. then take a quart of cream, & when it boyl thicken it with grated bread & boyle it very well as thick as for an hasty pudding. then take it from the fire & stir therein halfe a pound of fresh butter, then let it stand until it be almost cold, & then mingle it with your curd very well; then fill your coffins of paste & when they are ready to set into the oven scrape on them some sugar & sprinkle on some rosewater with a feather. If you love good store of currans in them, you may put in a whole pound, & a little sack If you please. & soe bake them.

-Hess, Karen. Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery. C 106.


This is very different from the “traditional” New York Cheesecake, but still absolutely delicious. According to Robert May in his book, The Accomplisht Cook, in 1685, these images below are how you could form your cheesecakes. No pie plates here, they would either be free-form pies, or they would have used a pie mold.



Being the daredevil I am, I chose the triangular option, because when making 17th century cheesecake why would you do it the old boring circle way? Next we need a special occasion to make this, because a treat like this would have been rare in 1627 New Plimoth. Thankfully Mary Warren and Robert Bartlett got married this past Saturday!

Here’s what it looked like coming out of the modern oven….



Our sources say that once presented and shown off you cut it up in lozenges sized pieces and eat!


Those square pieces on their plates are the delectable cheesecake. Photo Courtesy of Miriam Rosenblum

Here's Martha getting her cheesecake fix. Photo Courtesy of Miriam Rosenblum






























A great time was had, and all had good belly cheer.

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One Response to “Cheesecake”

  1. carolina says:

    Love it. HUZZAH for those glorious cheesecakes of centuries past!

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