Papaya Feta Savoury Cheesecake

by Dr. Hennie Fisher
Papaya Feta Savoury Cheesecake

Most savoury cheesecakes are baked so that the eggs used in them can coagulate, creating a firm product that can be cut. This savoury cheesecake is not baked, but rather a fridge cheesecake on account of the papaya that is included. Papaya does not react well to heat, losing its elegant freshness. In this recipe, that freshness is retained along with delicious citrussy flavours, a bit of bite from onions, and richness from cream cheese and feta.

If you make this recipe in a cake tin, it can be cut into pretty slices and served as a starter at dinner, but you could also set it in a ceramic container and place it on a buffet table with crackers as a pâté. It is not complicated to make; most of the work lies in preparing the various ingredients.

For the best results you would need a cake tin around 18 to 20cm in diameter with a loose bottom. If your cake tin is not Teflon coated (non-stick), and you plan to make the cheesecake ahead of time, it would be sensible to prevent any acids in your mixture reacting to the metal of the tin. The easiest way to do this is to wrap the base of the cake tin in clingfilm and then secure it in the ring, tightening the clamp. Then cut a band of acetate to fit inside the tin. This will prevent the mixture touching the metal sides of the tin, ensuring not only food safety but also allowing for a pretty smooth surface when the cheesecake is unmolded.

The base of the cheesecake uses a combination of digestive biscuits and Provitas, but one could easily use any savoury biscuits to the same weight as required in the recipe. The marmite contributes a deeply rich umami that offsets the fresh papaya and cream cheese of the filling.

Ingredients for one large cheesecake, appropriate for 12 to 16 portions, depending on size:

For the biscuit base:
70 g butter
10 ml marmite (2 teaspoons)
60 g digestive biscuits
125 g Provita biscuits

For the filling:
130 g red onions, very finely diced and blanched in boiling water
100 g gherkins, finely diced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
130 g unflavoured plain dense cream cheese
180 g papaya, finely diced or roughly mashed
2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) salt
2 ml freshly ground black pepper
150 g plain feta, roughly crumbed
30 g fresh broadleaf parsley, chopped
Selection of fresh edible flowers


Prepare the cake tin – see note above. Melt the butter and marmite together. Finely process the biscuits in a food processor – add the warmed butter at the end. Scoop the mixture into the prepared cake tin and press down firmly in an even layer on the base of the tin. Refrigerate.

Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth and aerated. Gently fold in all the remaining ingredients, and immediately pour into the prepared tin. Smooth down the surface and refrigerate. Once the cheesecake has set, unmold and decorate with edible flowers. Cut in slices and serve with a papaya dressing and dark whole-wheat bread, pita crackers or a side salad.