The Russian Picking Cake – German Cheesecake Variation

Hi guys,

today I want to introduce you to my favourite German cheesecake – the Russian Picking Cake, or Russischer Zupfkuchen in German. It gets it’s name from little picked off bits of shortcrust pastry that get scattered across the top and give the moist filling a chocolatey bite. It’s unclear where exactly the cake comes from, despite the name.


Shortcrust Pastry:

300g Plain Flour
100g Sugar
160 g COLD Butter
30g Cocoa Powder
1tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Medium Eggs or 1 Large Egg and 1 Egg Yolk
Pinch of Salt

Butter and Flour to grease the tin

Cheesecake Filling:

200ml Whipping Cream
200ml Sour Cream
500g Quark (or Cream Cheese, but expect a denser cake)
200g Sugar
125g SOFT Butter
50g Cornflour
5 Medium Eggs or 4 Large Eggs and 1 Egg White
1tsp Vanilla Extract


Using a standmixer, food processor, knife or your hands, combine flour, sugar, salt, cold butter, vanilla extract, cocoa powder and your eggs. If you are working with your hands, do it quickly, you don’t want the butter to get warm. When the pastry is smooth, cover it and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Grease your tin 26 inch spring form tin with a bit of butter or cake release spray and flour it to ensure that your cake pops out without a problem when it’s baked.

Take a quarter of your chilled pastry and pop it back in the fridge, we’ll use that for our little picked bits on top of the cake. Push the rest of the pastry into the tin to create a pastry case. I like forming little sausages and pressing them into the wall of the tin to create a 3cm high wall and then using the leftover bits to cover the bottom. When everything is covered press the back of your pointer finger into the corner of your pastry case to make sure there’s no cracks and the pastry doesn’t bunch up in the corner, as it will dry out when baking. Put your pastry case back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 170 degree C.

For the filling we start by whipping our cold whipping cream until it’s stiff, make sure you don’t over whip. Place it back in the fridge. Combine Quark (you can use cream cheese but it’ll be a heavier cake), sour cream, soft butter, sugar, vanilla extract and cornflour. Then add two eggs at a time and mix in well. Add your whipping cream and mix until just combined so, again, you don’t over whip the cream.

Fill your pastry case with the cheesecake mixture and give it a quick wiggle to even the surface out. Take the quarter of pastry that we put aside earlier, break of little bits, flatten them and then randomly place them on top of the cheesecake filling.

Bake the cake for about 1hr 10 minutes, but keep your eye on it and take it out when it stops wobbling in the middle. To avoid a brown top, cover it with foil after about 30-40 minutes.

Let the cake cool completely before taking it out of the tin and finally:




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