This thing they call smearcase: It's sweet and cheesy

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Sandra Hartman

of Allison Park wrote Kitchen Mailbox in search of a cheesecake-like pastry/breakfast food called smearcase.

"The cheesecake-like filling sets atop a very thin yeast dough base. It is garnished with a sprinkling of cinnamon. I think it may be a German recipe. The filling is custard-like and has a vanilla/cream cheese-like flavor. I have only been able to find it in the Baltimore area," wrote Ms. Hartman.

What is smearcase?

According to Bernadette M. Przybylski of New Castle, it is a German word for dry curd cottage cheese. Kitchen Mailbox was prepared to make Ms. Przybylski's recipe for smearcase, which she called Cheese Buns, but we couldn't find dry curd cottage cheese.

Another reader, Gina Costello of Upper St. Clair, sent us a Smearcase Cake recipe and different definition for the word smearcase. According to Ms. Costello, smearcase is a Pennsylvania Dutch term for cottage cheese. It's from the word Schmierkase meaning soft cheese that can be smeared or spread. Cathy Tulley of West View sent the same recipe with this note: "The word smearcase (schmierkase) is pronounced shmeer-kay-za." Ms. Costello and Ms. Tulley's recipe is featured here.

Kitchen Mailbox would like to make it clear that today's recipe, Smearcase Cake, is most likely just one version of this ethnic recipe.

This cake has a cheesecake-like filling just as Ms. Hartman said. But it does not have a yeast dough base. This is a good cake to serve for breakfast, brunch or even a Steelers party. Steelers fans who sampled this cake gave it a big thumbs up.


  • Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Filling:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 13-ounce can evaporated milk
  • Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add eggs, oil and sugar, stir well. Press on the bottom and up the sides of a 9- by 13-inch pan. Set aside.

Mix all filling ingredients; beat until smooth. Pour filling over cake. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Freshly made pretzels

Haila Buskirk of Parkersburg, W.Va., was searching for a recipe for soft pretzels similar to the pretzels sold by street vendors in Downtown Pittsburgh. Carol Lang of Whitehall responded to the request, "Some of the street vendors told me that they purchased the pretzels at the Pretzel Shop, 2316 E. Carson St. By the way, if you can get there before 10:30 a.m., go around the alley behind the store and go in the back of the pretzel shop to see the pretzels being made." The oven, she wrote, is from the 1870s, and you can buy a hot pretzel right from the oven as well as in the shop.


Susan Herron of Mercer: "I wondered if anyone had a recipe for the Outback Steakhouse's new Chopped Blue Salad. I am not certain of the exact name, but the salad has a blue cheese vinaigrette dressing with candied chopped pecans, blue cheese crumbled, chopped lettuce and maybe rice noodles."

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to . Include a name, neighborhood/city/borough/township and state and a daytime phone number.


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