Ex debate team members, listen up. Is cheesecake a pie or a cake? Or a cheesecake pie? Or is it its own thing? I've got a headache already. But stick with me. Before we get down and dirty into this sweet dilemma , lets just call cheesecake a dessert for now.
The ahem, dessert, is mainly a mixture of a soft cheese like cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, or neufchatel. There's usually sour cream or heavy cream. The cheese is blended with eggs and sugar. The cheese mixture s is usually poured into a pie pan or springform pan. A graham cracker crust crust or crushed Oreos usually makes the bottom and side crust. But some prefer their cheesecake with no crust at all. But it's not unheard of to use a pastry shell instead. Cheesecake may be baked or referred to as a no bake style of cheesecake to set.
There's New York Style cheesecake, which is very dense with more heavy cream cheese and a crumbly crust made of graham cracker crumbs. And then there's an Italian Style cheesecake which is fluffier and lighter with Ricotta cheese as the main ingredient.
Cheesecake may be sweetened with vanilla extract, cinnamon, lemon, chocolate, pumpkin, or even peanut butter flavors. The top of the "dessert" might be topped with fruit, whipped cream, pecans, almonds, or walnuts, cookies, fruit sauce, chocolate syrup, or really anything that sounds good to the lucky cheesecake eater.
We've got similar textured concoctions like lemon meringue pie, key lime pie, and pumpkin pie that don't bring on the ire that cheesecake does. Pie is in their names and no one says boo. But whether cheeseCAKE is a pie is a passionate debate.
So Is Cheesecake A Pie?!
The culinary classification of modern cheesecake is not still not a concrete answer. (This is getting frustrating!!) It's not classified as an actual "cake", despite the name. Some say it's a torte because of the eggs which are the only leavening agent. Others shout "custard pie!" based on the overall structure, with the separate crust, the soft filling, and because it's easily made without flour. And then we still have the flan crowd and the non-committal group who firmly believe cheesecake is its "own thing."
According to Wikipedia, the name "cheesecake" has been used only since the 15th century and the cheesecake did not evolve into its modern form until somewhere around the 18th century. Europeans began removing yeast and adding beaten eggs to the cheesecake instead. Early 19th-century cheesecake recipes were made with cheese curd and butter. And listen to these classy flavor options...currants, brandy, raisin wine, nutmeg and orange flower water! We are like heathens with our Oreos and Snickerdoodles.
Modern cheesecake comes in two different types. Along with the baked cheesecake, there's an American invention made with uncooked cream cheese on a brown sugar sweetened graham cracker base. That's the no-bake cheesecake.
Let's Agree to Disagree
So I asked my Facebook friends what they thought. Some of whom are culinary Institute trained chefs, by the way. We still don't have an answer. So, in the great American social media manner playbook, we've all agreed to disagree it seems. Here's some of their answers.
Lauren said, "It's considered a cake because in a traditional cheesecake recipe.... there is leavening involved. The egg."
Nadine commented, "It's definitely either a pie or Its Own Thing." This comment string got so heated, Nadine even suggested this argument could cause the next insurrection.
Candy was firm in her opinion. "A cheesecake is a pie. It can also be a cake, but it can't not be a pie."
Michele was very diplomatic. "When I think of pie I expect to have some sort of fruit. When you offer someone a piece you say...would you like a piece of "cheesecake" Not would you like a piece of pie or cake. So... maybe it is it's own category!"
Scott was thinking it through. "I've seen it done in a pie crust and served on a pie plate. The same could be said about Boston cream PIE, but it's a sponge CAKE."
Alva googled it. "Generally cheesecakes are cylindrical, 4-6″ tall or more, have a baked custard center, and a crumb crust... So, in short, a cheesecake is a pie. It can also be a cake, but it can't not be a pie."
Laura was up all night. "I'm actually sitting here debating in my head. What makes a pie a pie and a cake a cake? Is it the crust that defines the pie? If so there is a crust on the cheesecake which would seem to sway it towards pie but "cheesepie" just sounds gross."
Elana knows her stuff. "Batter poured into a straight-sided form & baked. Cake. A pie has a filling in a "shell." Cheesecake does not require a base or crust in its formation." when she makes them at home, her family prefers them with no bottom.
My cousin David backed up his argument with restaurant evidence. "Dock's Oyster House in Atlantic City serves a dessert aptly named 'Joe's Cheese Pie.' It is delicious"
Watch: Cinnamon Whiskey Pecan Pie