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To Make Lemon Cheesecakes

Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home

The word cheesecake conjures up a lot of types and tastes. Those familiar with chess pies will find its mate with these lemony filled, flaky crust delights.

18th Century

Take the peel of two large lemons, boil it very tender; then pound it well in a mortar, with a quarter of a pound or more of loaf-sugar, the yolks of six eggs, and half a pound of fresh butter, and a little curd beat fine; pound and mix all together, lay a puff-paste in your patty-pans, fill them half full, and bake them. Orange cheesecakes are done the same way, only you boil the peel in two or three waters, to take out the bitterness.

— Hannah Glasse, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy“ 1796.

21st Century


  • 2 large lemons
  • 4 oz. white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 4oz. of cream cheese
  • Puff pastry (store bought or home-made)


  1. Peel the lemons avoiding the white part (or pith) as much as possible.
  2. Boil the peels in water until soft.
  3. Beat them in a food processer until mushy.
  4. Add the sugar, yolks of eggs and melted butter and blend thoroughly.
  5. Blend in the cream cheese until all is smooth.
  6. Place the puff pastry into several tin molds like little pies.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the pastry shells about half-way up.
  8. Bake these in a 375° oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden and firm like baked custards.

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