Parmesan Cheese Tart

  Ok, I am obviously some kind of cheese pie freak, and I admit this is my third cheesecake type recipe in the last couple of months, but you will just have to bear with me.


In the past, we made a couple of 18th century dishes that were called cheesecakes, but they were very different from the familiar modern cheesecake. 18th century cookbooks seem to have a lot of recipes that are called cheesecake, a few even containing cheese, but most do not come very close to what we now call a cheesecake. This dish comes a bit closer than most, but with a interesting twist: Parmesan.

The recipe is from William Rabisha’s The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected (1682)

To Make a Cheese Tart

This recipe makes quite a large tart so we are going to cut the recipe in half.

Parmesan Cheese Tart


  • 6 oz Parmesan cheese, grated fine
  • 3 whole eggs plus 3 additional egg yolks.
  • 4 oz of butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 3 oz fresh bread crumbs (the crumb of any white bread, crust removed, and pulsed in a food processor will work perfectly)
  • 3 Tbs of sugar
  • somewhere around 2 to 3 cups of heavy cream


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the cream, and stir with a spoon until well incorporated. Add as much cream as necessary to make a thin batter. The amount of cream needed will vary depending on the type of bread you use. The goal is to have a batter that you can pour — like pancake batter. The cheese and the bread crumbs will make the batter lumpy.

For a savory pie cut back the sugar to 1 or 2 Tablespoons. If you want it a sweeter pie,  add 3, even 4 tablespoons.

Pour the batter into pie pans lined with a short paste. This recipe filled one of our 9″ pie pans with enough left over to fill a tart made in our pewter bowl. You can place optional strips of puff paste across the top.  Finish by sprinkling a little sugar on top just before you place the pie in the oven, or add some sugar after baking and brown it with a salamander or torch.

savoringthepast_cheese tart 5

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Larger pies will take longer than smaller ones. The puff paste will puff up and brown, indicating when the pie is done.

The finished tart has a texture similar to that of a modern American cheesecake but is not nearly as sweet. You can take detect in this cheesecake the subtle bite of the Parmesan Cheese, but it’s not overpowering — perfect for the addition of fruit.

This entry was posted in 18th Century Cooking, Historic Cooking, Pies, Recipe, Video and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Parmesan Cheese Tart

  1. Bob Spencer says:

    Do you know to what Rabisha was referring when he mentions coffins?

    • Kevin Carter says:

      Hi, Bob. The word “coffin” refers to a standing crust. Check out our previous blog post where we show how to make an individual-size standing crust or coffin.

      Using hot clarified butter or suet and boiling water with flour produces an extremely hard crust that can stand on its own without the aid of a form or dish. Standing crusts were seldom intended to be eaten, rather, they served as cooking, serving, and even storage vessels.

      Some coffins were constructed with separate lids and then half-baked to be filled later. Others were filled prior to baking, and their lids were securely attached. The latter sort often required a hole to be cut in the lid. If the dish was to be served immediately, a gravy or lear could be poured through the hole before the dish was taken to the table. If the dish was to be stored for later use, processed suet or clarified butter was poured through the hole to seal the pie. Pies treated in this manner would be stored in a cool dry pantry or cellar for up to a week or ten days. Prior to serving, they would be heated up, the suet or butter was then poured off through the hole in the lid, and a gravy or lear was poured back in. After the filling was eaten, the crust was usually discarded or returned to the kitchen for later use as a thickening agent for soups or stews.

      We are scheduled to shoot a video this week on how to make a coffin, so keep a lookout for an upcoming post and video. If you haven’t subscribed to our Youtube channel you can do so here. By subscribing, you can receive automatic email notification of any new releases.

  2. Bob Spencer says:

    Thanks, Kevin. Very educational. I saw the video about standing crusts, but didn’t pick up on the bit about the coffins. Looking forward to the next, and am enjoying all of them very much.


  3. raspberry says:

    Have you ever considered opening a Pinterest account and pinning recipes from your blog? You could reach a lot of ladies and get even more people in your audience that way! In any case, when I open my account I know I will be pinning your videos and blog- our whole family loves it! Really high quality, historical and educational stuff!

  4. Pingback: 2015/12/23 – BOOKMARKS | JEC RECIPES

  5. Pat says:

    Does the bread crumbs need to be from fresh bread or dried bread.

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