18th Century Lemon Cheesecake

This lemon cheesecake recipe dates all the way back to Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, published in 1747.


2 lemons

12 eggs (12 egg yolks and 6 egg whites will be used in the custard part of the recipe)

225 g brown caster sugar (I used raw caster sugar instead).

6 tablespoons of cream (save a little for serving with the lemon cheese cake).

225g butter

Shortcrust pastry sheets (or, you can make it, see below).


Preheat the oven to 190C/374F.

Grate the lemon zest. Put the zest and the juice of 1 lemon into a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix with a wooden spoon.

Beat the egg yolks and add them to the mix.

Beat the egg whites until they are frothy. This must have been a hard task in the 18th century when it would have to have been done by hand! Fortunately I could reach for my trusty electric beater. Add the frothy egg whites to the rest of the cheesecake mix.

Combine the butter and cream and over a low heat, until the butter is melted. Add the butter and cream to the rest of the cake mix and beat it for a minute.

Pour combined mixtures into a medium sized saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. This takes about 8 minutes on my stovetop.

Place the pastry sheet over a flan pan (or pie dish), making sure the pastry covers the sides of the pan (there is quite a lot of custard mix).

Take the mix off the heat and pour over the pastry base. You may have some left, so feel free to pour this into a bowl and eat it before anyone else notices.

Bake the lemon cheese cake for 30 mins or until the filling has set. In my oven it takes about 35 minutes. Cool and serve with cream.

Shortcrust pastry (if you want to make from scratch)

1 egg yolk

225 g chilled butter

1 1/3 cups of plain flour


Process flour and butter in a food processor. Add the egg yolk and 2 tsps. of cold water.

Once mix is worked through, take it out of the bowl and knead it on a board. Roll into a ball and let rest in the fridge for 30 mins. Then roll out flat when preparing to use it in the pie.