Let them eat (cheese)cake
Our tasters sampled the range of cheesecakes on the market for Shavuot and found that high price does not necessarily mean high quality.
Shavuot (the Jewish Feast of Weeks, commemorating the receiving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai) is known as the time when the country is flooded with cheesecakes. Strauss Dairies looked into the matter and found that as the holiday approached, there was a 50 percent increase in the sale of cheeses, compared to a normal month, and that is primarily due to people making cheesecakes for the holiday.
However, even if there are people willing to make the cakes themselves, there is no shortage of those who prefer to buy ready-made cheesecakes. For their benefit, we decided to taste a selection of cheesecakes in a variety of flavors and styles. We focused on cakes from private bakeries and select chains, such as Lahmi, Roladin and Lehem Erez.
The tasters found most of the cakes to be quite tasty and only a few managed to stand out among the others. Prices varied widely: the most expensive sell for NIS 100-140 and the cheaper ones were approximately NIS 30-40. While the less expensive cakes received ratings of medium and below, the more expensive prices for some of the cakes did not necessarily guarantee a gourmet taste. Usually, the expensive cakes justified their high prices primarily because of their impressive appearance - the kind that only trained chefs are able to achieve in a home kitchen - and an interesting combination of flavors.
Among the cakes that received praise from the tasters was the cheese, poppy seed and citrus cake from Lehem Erez (average score: 9.2). The tasters were amazed by the combination of poppy seeds and cheese as well as the sauces that came with the cake: passion fruit, chocolate and raspberry. However, several complained of a slight aftertaste and one said the cake was "a bit heavy."
The cheesecake with figs and fruit by Shkedim Catering was a little less well received (average score: 8.4). The fruit was piled up on the cake and seemed as if it really didn't belong to it. As for the taste, there was a difference of opinion: some tasters were impressed by the combination of fruit, but others complained of excessive sweetness. The blueberry-coated cheesecake from English Cake was also too sweet (average score: 7.6). The tasters noted that there was perceptible taste of gelatin. Nevertheless, one taster said the cake was "classy and airy."
Roladin's cheese mousse with crumbs surprised the tasters with its chilled frozen texture (average score: 8.7). In addition to the tasters who said the cake was tasty and somewhat sweet, there was one who felt that "with all the mousse, you don't taste the cheese," and another who complained that the cake "has a taste that is reminiscent of Bavaria."
After tasting the baked cheesecake with raisins from the Perah Artistic Bakery (average score: 6.7), the tasters complained the dough was dry and bland and there was an overpowering flavor of rum. They firmly stated: "We don't want to try more than one bite of this cake." However, it should be noted that individual-size cheesecakes from Perah, not tasted as part of this trial, fared much better.
Even less tasty was the honey cheesecake with pear topping from the Lilit restaurant (average score: 6.3). Its appearance was in sharp contrast to its flavor. The tasters complained the dough was too soft, as if not properly baked and that the cheese was sour. The pear flavor saved the cake from an even lower score.
Lahmi sent a baked cheesecake, with a simple, clean look, but it did not overimpress the tasters. They complained of a standard, industrial taste and gave the cake a medium score (average score: 7.6). The baked cheesecake with sour cream sent by the Metuka cafe-bakery was better (average score: 8.3). Undoubtedly, this cake's esthetic appearance - flower-shaped cookie decoration - added points to its score. On the other hand, there were deductions from the score because of the density and insufficient sweetness.
Another cake tried was the cheese flavored tofu cake from Meshek Tzuriel, which offered a decent alternative for those who don't eat dairy products. But the tasters nevertheless preferred the real cheesecakes and therefore only gave it a medium score (average score: 6.8). The best cake of all was the baked cheesecake with sour cream topping from the Ben Ami Bakery (average score: 9.7). The tasters liked the airy texture and homemade taste and were impressed by the dash of lemon flavor that was added. When asked which cake they would choose to buy for themselves, they chose this cake almost unanimously.