The major ingredients in almost all plain cheesecakes are cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, egg yolks, whole eggs, and either heavy cream or sour cream. The ratios of these ingredients determine the final taste (tangy or sweet) and texture (dense or fluffy).
My recipe starts with a quick preparation of the crust. Assemble 4 ounces of graham crackers, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 4 tablespoons of melted butter.
Break the graham crackers into small pieces and place into a food processor.
Pulse the food processor until the graham crackers have been reduced to fine pieces (about 10 one second pulses). (The crackers can also be broken by placing them into a large resealable plastic bag and crushed by rolling a pin over the bag.) Then, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar and butter with the crackers until all the crackers take on a wet appearance.
Melt one tablespoon of butter and use half of it to butter the bottom of a 10 in. springform pan. Then, pour the graham cracker mixture into the pan. Use a flat bottomed cup to press the cracker crumbs down into an even layer.
Use a flatware teaspoon to press in the outer circumference of the crust.
Bake the crust for about twelve minutes at 325°F.
Once the crust has become fragrant and turned a golden brown, remove it from the oven to cool on a wire rack. When the crust has cooled, use the remaining half tablespoon of butter to butter the sides.
While baking the crust and letting it cool, assemble and prepare the filling: 2-1/2 pounds cream cheese (at room temperature), 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1-3/4 cup sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 large egg yolks, and 6 large eggs.
Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and place the pieces into work bowl of a standing mixer. Beat the cheese on low until smooth, about two or three minutes. It may be easier to beat half the cream cheese first, followed by the second half. Once the cheese is smooth, add the salt and about a third of the sugar. Beat until integrated and scrape down the sides. Add another third of the sugar and continue to mix until the sugar is mixed in. Then add the final third of sugar and mix in. Optionally, three tablespoons of flour can be added with the sugar to help add a bit of stability to the cake. Adding flour will not affect the taste or texture of the cake, but will reduce the likelihood of a cracked cake. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix.
Scrape the sides down and add the heavy cream. The cheese should be much easier to work with at this point.
Add the egg yolks and mix until they are blended in.
Now add three whole eggs and mix until the eggs have been completely mixed into the filling. Scrape down the sides and beat in the final three eggs. Now, pour the filling into the springform pan onto the cooled crust. A 10-inch pan should fill up to almost its rim with this filling. Lift the pan an inch or two above your counter or cutting board and drop it to bring any bubbles trapped inside to the surface. Place the springform pan onto a sheetpan (for easy handling and safety), and slide into the middle of an oven preheated to 500°F.
After ten minutes, reduce the temperature to 200°F and allow the cheesecake to bake as the oven gradually reduces temperature (do not open the oven door). Bake the cheesecake until the center of the cake registers as 150°F (making sure it does not exceed 160°F), about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Feel free to use an instant read thermometer in the center of the cake - a slight blemish is worth a perfect cake. Note: When baking the example cheesecake, I kept the cake at 500°F for only five minutes (thinking that the pizza stone would keep the temperature higher for longer). Notice that the edges of the cake had begun to brown, but the whole surface of the cake is still a light shade. This cake resulted in the texture of a New York style cheesecake, but failed to achieve the look. Remember to keep baking at 500°F for the full ten minutes. (Some recipes even call for fifteen minutes, but I generally use ten.)
Remove the cake from the refrigerator about thirty minutes before serving and slice with a sharp knife. Use a tall glass of warm water to dunk the knife into between cuts to make slicing easier. The strawberry glaze from the Strawberry Glazed Angel Food Cake works well with this cheesecake.}?>
Plain New York Style Cheesecake (serves twelve)
Graham cracker crust
|Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)|
|4 oz. (110 g) graham crackers||process to crumbs||mix||form in 10-in. springform pan||bake 325°F (160°C) 12 min.|
|4 Tbs. (55 g) butter||melt|
|1 Tbs. (12 g) sugar|
|Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C)|
|2-1/2 lb. (1.1 kg) cream cheese||mix until smooth||mix||mix in thirds||mix||mix||mix||mix in halves||bake 500°F (260°C) 10 min.||bake 200°F (93°C) 100 min. until 150°F (65°C)|
|1/8 tsp. (1 g) salt|
|1-3/4 cup (350 g) sugar|
|3 Tbs. (23 g) all-purpose flour (optional)|
|2 tsp. (10 mL) lemon juice|
|1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla extract|
|1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream|
|2 large (34 g) egg yolks|
|6 large (300 g) eggs|
|1 graham cracker crust|