Gretchen's table: Mom's cheesecake was her pride and our joy

Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Entertaining

My mom wasn't a particularly touchy-feely person but I never doubted how much she loved me and my six siblings.

One way she showed it was through her desserts. While Ruth Trent hated to cook on a daily basis, she loved to bake. So holidays at the house when I was growing up were always flush with her famed chocolate chip cookies, cut-outs and other sweet treats.

One recipe everyone adored was her cheesecake. Smooth and creamy, with a crunchy-sweet graham cracker crust, it was everything a classic cheesecake should be: velvety on the tongue, luscious to lick the stray bits off your fingers and outright decadent given the calories. My mother always served it with strawberry sauce. Even as adults, we fought over the leftovers. (It makes a great breakfast.)

Unlike my mom, I love to cook but am not so keen on baking. All that exact measuring! Which is why I'm glad her cheesecake recipe, scribbled on an index card sometime in the late 1970s or early '80s, is such a treasure. Geared to the sometimes baker, its crust and filling are incredibly easy to make without any fancy ingredients — just mix, pour and bake.

It's not an original: My older sister got it from "Betty," the owner of a long-forgotten steakhouse near Penn State where she worked as a waitress during college. Because it was a top-seller, Betty made my sister promise to never share the recipe with anyone. But it was so good, of course it made its way to my mother, who in turn refused for years to give it to me because she didn't want it to end up in the paper. (She knew me well!)

Maternal memories are often sparked by the thought of something delicious your mom made when you were a kid, so chances are you're nostalgic for a certain dish of your own. To celebrate our mothers, I'm sharing her cheesecake recipe with you.


In honor of my mom's legendary sweet tooth — spice drops and peanut brittle were favorites — I'm including a recipe for homemade strawberry sauce, too. Try to use local berries, if you can find them, because they're sweeter. I got mine at a farm stand in Virginia.

Mom's Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

PG tested

For crust


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus