People. You are not going to make this. I just know it. From top to tail, it takes nearly a day.  There is yeast in the pastry. It needs to rise. It’s buttery and fussy.

But, it is so damned good. Divine, actually. Divine in the purest divinity sense of the word. I phoned people to tell them about how good this tart turned out. I prattled on about it to school parents who don’t even know me. I confessed to the priest. Teddy, our Airedale, is sick of hearing about it. Now, it’s time for you.

I prepared the homemade cheese with the morning milk from our dairy. The baked filling tastes like a wonderful childhood memory that includes cheese Kolaches and Danish from Jerry’s Bakery with glasses of cold milk and cartoons on a Saturday morning. I think there was a crumbly cheese coffee cake that my grandmother used to serve as well. It’s that soft crumbly cheese consistency that I crave.

This is a recipe from Martha Stewart Living so, of course, it worked. Still, I was nervous throughout the proving process. The dough is really sticky. The kind that you simply cannot punch down without getting your knuckles stuck in.  I’d never used yeast for pastry before. But, now that I have succeeded, it’s one more notch on my ye old ‘pastry perfection’ stick. {If you are new here, I struggle with pastry and have vowed to win!}

If you come to the farm and visit we can make it together…fresh cheese and all. I need some company, and if takes temptation by tarte au fromage so be it.

Have a look at the recipe and see what you think.

Sweet Farmers Cheese Tart {or, if you’re French or fancy: Tarte au Fromage}


1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (from two 1/4-ounce envelopes)

1/2 cup warm water

1 large egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for bowl and pan


1 cup sugar, divided

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) farmer cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) creme fraiche, room temperature

1 large egg yolk, plus 3 large egg whites, room temperature, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup applesauce

Dough: Mix together flour, sugar, yeast, water, egg yolk, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until a dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Add butter, and mix until incorporated, about 3 minutes (dough will be sticky). Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, cover, and let rise 30 minutes. Refrigerate dough, still in bowl and covered, until firm, about 2 hours.

Punch down dough. Roll out into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a buttered 9 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing dough up to rim of pan. Prick dough all over with a fork, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise 30 minutes.

Filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lowest position. Whisk together 3/4 cup sugar and the flour. Whisk together farmer cheese, creme fraiche, egg yolk, salt, and vanilla; stir in sugar mixture, then butter, with a wooden spoon.

Beat egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high, and gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until medium glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Fold half the egg whites into cheese mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites.

Spread applesauce in crust, and pour filling on top of applesauce. Bake 30 minutes, then check crust; if it is starting to brown significantly, tent edge with foil. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and filling is puffed, golden, and just set (it should barely wobble when very lightly shaken), about 25 minutes. Let cool, undisturbed, on a wire rack 1 hour. Unmold tart, and let cool at least 30 minutes. Tart is best served slightly warm but can also be served at room temperature.


Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2013

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20 Responses to “Sweet Farmers Cheese Tart”

  1. Vicky says:

    So, I actually made this! I had a day off and thought I’d put some time into trying a new recipe. Although it seems like it might be some work, it really wasn’t. You just need the time to let the dough rest. It is also a very forgiving recipe. I had to kind of fudge some of the ingredients/amounts since I had less cheese than I thought I would and it still turned out beautifully and delicious! This is likely going to be a new staple treat in this house. I used coconut oil instead of butter (since somehow that is what I had) and it was so yummy! I encourage absolutely everyone to give this a go. Many thanks!

  2. Imen, this looks divine indeed. And cakes that take a day to make are my weakness! 🙂 I used to work at an authentic German bakery when I was young, and we sold a similar cheesecake — it was one of the most amazing things I have ever, ever eaten. Lovely shots, as always! xo

  3. I would LOVE to come to your farm and makes this with you 🙂

  4. Calantha says:

    This looks perfect. As someone who bakes sourdough that takes 72 hours or more of prep and waiting, I’m willing to tackle this one. Can’t wait.

  5. […] Irish farmer cheese tart looks […]

  6. It looks delicious, I would love to try your recipes

  7. sarah says:

    I do want to make this, I do. {Ah! Your photos are stunning.}

  8. Jenny says:

    I will (attempt to) make this when my goats freshen in April…looks delish! I love cheesecake, but never made a yeast-type crust!! BTW, I wish I could visit…

  9. Sonia says:

    I LOOOVE the little flag of victory sitting atop the tart! It seems to say, “Yay! I did it!!” ( trumpet blast here) it looks so delicious!

  10. Annie says:

    Oh, I found the tag and the recipe!! so just lemon cheese. I can do this! (Though truth be told I should NOT! 🙂 Thank you!

  11. Annie says:

    I would love to try that. It looks beautiful and delicious. What do you call farmer’s cheese? How exactly do you make it? I have my own goats so I would love to try this when they are in milk again.

  12. KathleenC says:

    This is so similar sounding to my Gramma’s cheesecake… though there are recipe differences; she had the same toothsome crumbly-cheesey-creamy cakelike texture to her cheesecake (NOT NY style at all), and it looked just like that top photo but taller. Oh, it was so, so good! In fact, since this cake is described as divine and her married name WAS Divine… maybe it is her cake!

  13. Donna Baker says:

    Once again, you have wowed me. I am so glad to have found your blog. I am still thinking about the hay ice cream and milk jam. Today, I am making a raspberry lemon marmalade from all the lemons I grew in my greenhouse.

  14. One more beautiful and delicious reason to visit you one day Imen!. That tart looks divine, and the promise to bake it with you and later on have a tea and a long conversation sounds like the perfect plan to discover more about the farming life!. xo

  15. Krista says:

    I know EXACTLY that crumbly, cheesy texture you described. 🙂 And now I’m scrambling back through my memory to figure out why. Where have I tasted that before??? This sounds wonderful. Once the weather cools a bit I will get back to making cheese. And then, maybe I will be brave like you and try this tricky pastry. 🙂

  16. I would love to try this with you. It seems quite somplicated and out of my comfort zone – so that means I must try it!!! We move in 4 weeks Imen- Yikes!

  17. Nessa Robins says:

    Your photos are beautiful and that tart looks so appetising! I’d almost drive down to Limerick for a slice. 🙂

  18. Parisbug says:

    This has always been a closeted favourite of mine in Paris/French patisseries. Le Mr proclaims it bland and weirdly cheesy, like a cheesecake gone French. I savour the light sweetness and creamy consistency, it’s a comfortable dessert meant to be enjoyed privately. The showy pastry sisters sit front row in all the patisserie windows to draw the crowds, but it’s the tried and true sister that’s a friend for life in the back corner and keeps the crowds coming back, that’s the tarte au fromage to me 🙂 So glad you mastered it, and know that my visit will be just for the company, no need to bribe with taste! (happily eat some Irish yummies, Imen made!) Come to Normandy and we can do a local taste test—my bribe for company 🙂 Bisous. xx

  19. Emily says:

    This looks delicious, Imen! I love the idea of the applesauce in the bottom. Yum!

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