Now days there are hundreds of different cheesecake recipes. The ingredients are what make one cheesecake different from another. The most essential ingredient in any cheesecake is cheese (the most commonly used are cream cheese, Neufchatel, cottage cheese, and ricotta.)
Ever since the dawn of time, mankind has striven to create the perfect cheesecake. The earliest history of the art is lost, but we know that cheesecake was already a popular dish in ancient Greece. With the Roman conquest of Greece, the secret fell into Roman hands. The Roman name for this type of cake (derived from the Greek term,) became “placenta.” Placenta was more like a cheesecake, baked on a pastry base, or sometimes inside a pastry case. They were also called “libum” by the Romans, and were often used as an offering at their temples to their gods.
1st Century A.D. – Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 B.C.) was a Roman politican. His treatise on agriculture, De Agricultura or De Re Rustica, is the only work by him that has been preserved. He wrote about farming, wine making, and cooking among other things. This is his recipe for libum, the small sweet cake often given as a temple offering:
Libum to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.
Small cheesecakes were served to athletes during the first Olympic games held in 776 B.C. on the Isle of Delos.
230 A.D. – According to John J. Sergreto, author of Cheesecake Madness, The basic recipe and ingredients for the first cheesecake were recorded by Athenaeus, a Greek writer, in about A.D. 230:
Take cheese and pound it till smooth and pasty; put cheese in a brazen sieve; add honey and spring wheat flour. Heat in one mass, cool, and serve.
1000 A.D. -Cheesecake were introduced to Great Britain and Western Europe by the Roman conquering armies. By 1000 A.D., cheesecakes were flourishing throughout Scandinavia, England, and northwestern Europe.
1545 – A cookbook from the mid 16th century that also includes some accounts of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, called A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe dayes