Cheesecake: Cake, pie or tart? (Editorial)


Ashley Ivanoff

This well-loved dessert is causing controversy. Is it a cake, pie or tart?

One of the most profound debates throughout history lies in the world of desserts. Specifically, a cream cheese and graham cracker crusted delicacy. For centuries, people have argued about the terminology and classification of this food: Is cheesecake a pie, cake, or a tart?

According to, the beloved dessert is classified as a pie.

“[…] Let’s talk about cheesecakes,” said food writer Brian Geiger. “Generally cheesecakes are cylindrical, 4-6″ tall or more, have a baked custard center, and a crumb crust. With a minor change in appearance, any pastry that is a crumb crust filled with custard and baked, in my mind, is a pie.”

The opinion on the matter tends to vary among chefs. On Twitter, celebrity cook Rachel Khoo said the dessert is “probably more of a cake.” 

What do you think: Is cheesecake actually cake?

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Eater magazine copy editor Emma Alpern ( said  “In these unsure times, even as anti-intellectualism takes hold in the Western world, we should look toward our institutions for clarity and guidance. Cheesecake is a tart.”

With these three very different opinions, what are we supposed to believe? When considering the factual aspects of the argument, answers are simple.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pie is defined as a dessert consisting of a filling (as of fruit or custard) in a pastry shell or topped with pastry or both, whereas the definition of cake is a bread-like food made from a dough or batter that is usually fried or baked in small flat shapes and is often unleavened. A tart is defined as a small pie or pastry shell without a top containing jelly, custard, or fruit.

After careful examination of many different views from world-renowned chefs, numerous articles from opinionated writers, and three thorough dictionary definitions, I have come to the conclusion that cheesecake is a tart. The structure of cheesecake is composed of a somewhat pastry shell with a custard-like filling and sometimes contains fruit.

Despite the confusing terminology, cheesecake is by no means a cake. Also, since cheesecake isn’t topped with pastry, it cannot be a pie. Cheesecake is, and forever will be, a tart.

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2017-2018 Periscope staff, CHS Administration, or the CHS student body.