La Viña inspired Burnt basque cheesecake


I went in search of a small cheesecake to serve for 2-6 people at home. I was intrigued with the burnt basque version that originated in Basque Country in Northern Spain. Chef Santiago Rivera needed to add a new dessert dish to his menu that was quick to make without compromising on flavour. It was created in 1990 in his restaurant La Viña in San Sebastian. Doing my research, I soon realised that I didn’t want to use a kilogram of cream cheese to learn. Cream cheese is exceptionally expensive. I had to find a way to scale the recipe to my small 15cm lose bottom baking pan.

Along the way I was also trying to find that perfect texture that most cheesecakes allude to, but elude entirely. Since 2020 I have been in search of the one cheesecake that came the closest to ✳︎my✳︎ expectations. It was from a legendary coffee shop that decided to close her doors after over 40 years of being in business. I was devastated to learn about their decision, as this was my go-to place to enjoy cheesecake when I felt I needed the comfort and joy. There is something very special about enjoying a homemade cake and even though this was from a coffee shop, I knew their story and it felt like family to me.

My memory triggered again on my recent trip to Spain. Brian and I were wondering around a market in Valencia and on a whim I bought a tarta queso at one of the stalls. As I handed over my euros, the man told me in his best English that it was an old family recipe. I wrapped it up and later that day when we returned to our apartment to enjoy an afternoon nap I remembered it. I was so mad with myself because I didn’t engage with the cheesecake man. I regretted not asking him more about it. We were so busy trying to cover as much new ground as possible that I never did get back to that stall. The tarta queso was absolutely heavenly and again I was reminded about my little coffee shop memory in East London.

recipe testing 2 different types of cheese – my oven has a hot spot that is why the top one burnt a little more

On my return visit home I was all fired up to get cracking. I learnt there are only 5 ingredients in this recipe. Cream cheese, cream, sugar, eggs and flour. Last year I bought a book about scaling recipes so I thought I would use that knowledge along with all the other research that I pooled together. I tested various combinations and finally settled on the Philadelphia and créme fraïche version for my taste. I decided to leave out the flour because I read as the cheesecake doesn’t spend too long in the oven, the flour actually doesn’t have time to cook. I applied the principals of a baked custard to ensure it would set and it worked. I decided to add a dash of salt to balance the flavour and to reduce the sugar. I also remember a distinct vanilla flavour from my coffee shop memory.

I threw out my previous cheesecake methods and latched on to one I discovered from a food writer at the Los Angeles Times. Instead of using a stand mixer use a blender. I’ve got an old Kitchen Aid blender that I used for all of my testing. It’s a game changer!

Another win for speed and efficiency is no biscuit base to this cheesecake. It takes 5 minutes to make this burnt basque cheesecake and then you stand around waiting for the oven to heat up. The oven is set at a whopping 230ºC and this is where the magic happens.

Burnt basque cheesecake

Servings 6 small portions


  • 225 g Philadelphia Full Fat Cream Cheese plain Substitute Lancewood med fat or Woolworths Full Fat also works
  • 250 g crème fraîche Substitute sour cream
  • 2 ExL eggs
  • 100 g sugar regular sugar NOT castor sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash salt


  • Pre heat oven to 230ºC and get all your ingredients together
    you will need :- 1 x 15cm (6") lose bottom baking pan or springform pan
    Blender, spatula, baking sheet, baking paper
  • Place all the ingredients in a blender and pulse blitz to blend together. Once the ingredients have come together, blend for a continuous 30 to 45 seconds
  • The consistency is thick smooth and creamy. Rest for 20 minutes
  • Prepare the baking pan. Crumple up baking paper large enough to fit comfortably in the pan with about a 5cm - 10cm overlap above the rim. Use the base of the pan to push the paper down into the pan, remove the base, then remove the paper
  • replace the base into the baking pan and replace the shaped baking paper back into the pan on top of the base.
  • After 20 min rest, pour the batter into the prepared pan
  • Lift and drop the pan rotating as you go to remove any air bubbles that are still trapped in the batter
  • The batter should smooth out on top
  • Place the baking pan on a baking sheet and gently place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. The top should wobble like jelly and be a tanned golden brown. It may look like the cake has not properly baked, but it will set once cooled
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack away from the heat of the oven. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours to set
  • Remove from fridge and let it come to room temperature. Gently peel back the baking paper and slice into 6 pieces. I find this to be a perfect size for me, but you may prefer to slice into 4. Tip - dip the knife in hot water for a clean slice, wiping between each cut.
  • Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee
Course: afternoon tea, Dessert
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: Burnt Basque Cheesecake
Philadelphia full fat cream cheese

Join the Conversation

  1. Diana Hawkins says:

    I can’t wait to try your recipe Jax

    1. And when you do, I want to hear all about it Di. I hope it’s everything you expect it to be.

  2. Noelle Perry-Earle says:

    Good morning. This is the perfect sized cheesecake for my husband and I and your recipe looks divine! I’ve read the post a couple of times but can’t see the size of the springform you’ve used. Is it a 6”? I do hope so, I have that size in my cupboard and all the ingredients on hand. Thanks in advance.

    1. Thank you Noelle, I have added it to the instructions, yes it is a perfect size for 2 people to enjoy over a couple of days. I have tested it after 5 days and it still tastes great. I’d love to know how it works for you. I have a small video posted to my Fresh Kitchen East London facebook page if you’d like a quick look at the actual process.

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