Lemon Cheese Cake – Week 6 2022


Well Cook Off-ers, this is it. The 6th and final week of our 2022 Great Colonial Cook Off season. A HUGE thanks to each and every one of you who cooked along with us this year. The Cook Off wouldn’t be a cook off without you.

But, before we get too teary eyed, we still have one more dish to cook!

Cheesecake not Cheese Cake

This week’s recipe is a bit of a misnomer. It’s cheesecake with no cheese …. or cake. So why the heck is it called cheesecake? Honestly, we don’t really know, but we can take an educated guess.

Contrary to what you might think, cheesecake has been around for a very, very long time. The oldest known English language cookbook – The Forme of Cury compiled in 1390 – includes two recipes for cheesecake. Both were made with fresh cheese curds, which might explain why similar dishes later appear under the name “curd tart”. Makes sense … right?


The word curd was used to refer to either anything that curdles (like milk) or has the appearance or texture of curdled milk. Which might explain why there’s a 17th century cheesecake recipe that includes egg soaked breadcrumbs instead of cheese. There’s also one from Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (1739) that substitutes mashed potatoes for cheese.

Above: Eliza Smith’s recipe for potato-based cheese cake.


Which brings us back to this week’s dish. Lori found the following recipe in Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook, first published in 1660.

To Make Lemon Cheese Cakes

Blanch half a pound of almond, and beat them in a stone mortar very fine, with a little rose-water; put in eight eggs, leaving out five of the whites; take three quarters of a pound of sugar, and three quarters of a pound of melted butter, beat all together, then take three lemon-skins, boiled tender, the rind and all, beat them well, and mix them with the rest, then put them into your paste. You may make a lemon pudding the same way, only add the juice of half of a lemon; Before you set them in the oven, grate over them a little fine loaf sugar.

Just over a hundred years later, an almost identical recipe To Make Excelent Lemon Cheese Cakes appears in a manuscript recipe book in the collection of the Westminster City Archives. It goes like this:

To Make Excelent Lemon Cheese Cakes

Take half a pd of almonds. Pound them with rose water, but not too much, half a pd of loaf sugar. Boyle the yallow peel of a large lemon pared prity thick & pounded very well, 8 eggs, 4 whites well beat, 3 qrs of a pd of butter melted prity cool, 2 spoon fulls of rose or orange flower water. Mix all well together & bake them.

Above: “To Make Lemon Cheese Cakes” from the Westminster City Archives.

Both recipes call for a “paste” or pastry crust. We’ve provided a basic recipe for short crust pastry, but feel free to use your own.


Remember, add a photo of your no-cheese cheesecake to the comments of this week’s recipe post on the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page for a chance to win weekly and grand prizes.

Up for grabs this week? A Colony of Avalon gift shop classic – our exclusive reproduction tyg mug. Deadline for this week’s entries is 11:59 pm, Monday, September 5, 2022. That means you’ll have the entire Labour Day long weekend …. So no excuses! Can’t wait to see your cheesecake.

The Tyg – A multi-handled drinking cup made for sharing. Clearly a product of pre-covid days!