Our Best Cheesecake
Cheesecake is one of those desserts that you order at a restaurant but never seem to take the time to make at home. That’s a shame because a well made cheesecake is truly one of life’s pleasures.
This recipe is for a New York style cheesecake (think deli) made with a water bath. Before you panic about the water bath you need to remember that most bakeries and delis use water baths to make their cheesecakes, and there is a reason for that.
Why Bake With A Water Bath?
Simple-you want to reduce the number of cracks on the surface of your cheesecake as well as bake the cake thoroughly. By covering the water bath with foil you are creating a very moist environment in the oven. Normally your oven is dry and harsh, this added moisture will do wonders for your cake. Still, you don’t have to use a water bath, but you may have a drier dessert when you are finished. We found this recipe at Simply Recipes and loved it.
You will need a few baking utensils for this recipe:
One 9″ springform pan with a 2 3/4″ high edge
One large high side roasting pan
Heavy duty aluminum foil
If you don’t already have a springform pan I would recommend the non-stick leakproof pan from Hiware. It’s perfect for cheescakes and other desserts. It has a removable bottom, a non-stick surface and is water proof. You can check it out at Amazon by clicking HERE.
For the crust:
- 1 3/4 cups of Graham cracker crumbs (from about 15 Graham crackers)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- Pinch salt
- 4 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit the pinch of salt), melted
For the filling:
- 2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
For the topping:
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
Cake Baking Basics
Prepare the crust
1 Process graham crackers, mix with sugar, salt, butter: Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Put in a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter.
Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lower third of oven.
2 Press the graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan: Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are a nice even layer at the bottom of the pan, with maybe just a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan.
3 Bake the crust: Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. While the crust is cooling, you can skip ahead and start on the filling. Wait until the crust has cooled to wrap the pan in foil in the next step.
4 Triple wrap pan in heavy duty foil: Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking. Place a large 18-inch by 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil on a flat surface.
Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don’t create any holes in the foil.
If there are any holes, water will get into the pan and ruin the crust.
Press the foil around the edges of the pan. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan, and repeat, gently folding up the sides of the foil around the pan and pressing the foil against the pan.
To be triply safe, repeat with a third layer of heavy duty foil. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan.
Make the cheesecake filling
1 Beat cream cheese, then sugar: Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add the sugar, beat for 4 minutes more.
2 Add salt, vanilla, then eggs, then sour cream: Add the salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the sour cream, beat until incorporated.
3 Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer that paddle attachment has failed to incorporate.
Time To Cook the cheesecake
1 Prepare pan and boiling water: Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan. Prepare 2 quarts of boiling water.
Heat the oven to 325°F.
2 Pour filling into pan: Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, over the graham cracker bottom layer. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
3 Place in oven: Place the roasting pan with the springform pan in it, in the oven, on the lower rack.
4 Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan (without touching the hot oven), to create a water bath for the cheesecake, pouring until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan, about 1 1/4 inches. (Alternatively you can add the water before putting the pan in the oven, whichever is easier for you.)
5 Bake at 325°F (160°C) for 1 1/2 hours.
6 Turn off the heat of the oven. Crack open the oven door 1-inch, and let the cake cool in the oven, as the oven cools, for another hour. This gentle cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking.
7 Chill 4 hours: Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, so that it doesn’t actually touch the cheesecake. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
Prepare the cheesecake to serve
You’ve waited long enough, time to get ready to put toppings on your cheesecake. First, you need to properly remove it from the springmold pan.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Remove the foil from the sides of the pan, and place the cake on your cake serving dish. Run the side of a blunt knife between the edge of the cake and the pan.
There are some bakers that will suggest that you use a hair dryer to heat the sides of the pan to make it easier to remove. I have never tried it but I see this recommendation online a lot. Open the springform latch and gently open the pan and lift up the sides.
Prepare sour cream topping
Place sour cream in a medium sized bowl, stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla, until smooth. Chill until you are ready to serve the cake. Spread the top with the sour cream mixture. Serve plain or drizzle individual slices with your choice of sauces or toppings. Fresh strawberry or raspberry sauces are common but you can drizzle some caramel or chocolate. Go nuts! Almost everything tastes great on top of a cheesecake.