Why 'San Sebastian cheesecake' is conquering the world
- Food and drink
- 2023 Jan 03
If the James Bond evil villains had been somewhat smarter they would have learned to cook. A tip for screenwriters of forthcoming releases of Agent 007: leave out the atomic bombs hidden on islands and the attempts to control satellites, the paralysing gas formulas and the bombs with gillette wings. Just put an apron on the villain and give him a recipe book for Donostia pintxos. I'm sure they'll be more successful.
Donostia is an example to be followed. The capital, Gipuzkoa, with just over 180,000 inhabitants, shines brightly in the schedule of Hollywood stars, high officials, elite sports figures, Nobel laureates and, in general, thousands of curious travellers who share a common dream: to be conquered through their stomach.
Yes, San Sebastian has a plan to dominate the world. And our new top-secret weapon is sweet, golden on top and creamy inside, with toasted edges and its mouth-watering centre wiggles like a Balinese dancer. It's true, it's not a myth. La Viña cheesecake is special. We know about it here and they also know about it in the select gastro circles in New York, Japan, Australia and even Istanbul, places where it is better known as San Sebastian cheesecake.
The secret of the La Viña cheesecake recipe
If the Basque Country is a gastronomic force, the region of Gipuzkoa is the bedrock of its stronghold. We refer to the evidence. Specifically, the Michelin stars: 18, no more and no less, in a 25 kilometre radius, with 11 restaurants distinguished by the Michelin Guide in 2019.
These figures, unique in the world, have their historical epicentre - a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground - in the Old Part of San Sebastian. It is there, on the legendary 31 de agosto street, La Viña restaurant opens its doors every day. Santiago Rivera is the alma mater of La Viña and one of the first to be surprised by the commotion caused by, what they are calling the best Basque cheesecake.
Although it has been served in the restaurant for almost thirty years, it was only about ten years ago that word of mouth (thanks to the internet) began to elevate this sweet dessert to the Olympus of the world's gastronomic charts. Santiago Rivera and his team are clear that there is no special secret to making what many consider the best cheesecake in the world. If you just put a lot of love into the process. Which is as follows:
Original La Viña cheesecake recipe (including tricks!)
Ingredients (for 10/12 people):
• 1 kg cream cheese
• 7 eggs
• 400 g sugar
• 1½ tablespoons flour
• 500 ml cream
• Springform cake tin
• Greaseproof paper
- Preheat oven to 210ºC.
- While it is getting hot, mix (with patience and love, which never hurt) all the ingredients in a bowl in the order in which they appear in the above list. Trick 1: do not beat the eggs beforehand. Trick 2: the flour serves to better bind together all the ingredients.
- Place the previously moistened greaseproof paper in the tin. Trick 3: this type of oven paper avoids the need for biscuits or pastry around it, contributing to the legendary lightness of this cheesecake.
- Pour the contents of the bowl into the tin and carefully place it in the oven. This is where the magic begins, the result of which you will be able to see after approximately 40 minutes at 210ºC.
- At the end of this time, take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it rest for at least four hours.
- When you remove it from the tin, it must be really cold… You'll be surprised how much it weighs! About two kilos, if everything has gone as it should.
The icing on the cake of a unique dining experience
As you can see, this is an apparently easy recipe… But much simpler still is to go to La Viña Restaurant and try the San Sebastián cheesecake in the place where it was invented.
Without a doubt, a perfect climax for the incomparable gastronomic experience of eating in San Sebastian.