This is a showstopper, my title track (or photo). Truly, the perfect cheesecake. This is my sister's most requested dessert the last few years and she has eaten every dessert there is, so I KNOW it's good. And that's all I have to say about that.
Shout out to Inna Yasinka Photography for spending the day with me and truly capturing the essence of this stunning little cheesecake.
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
32 oz (four 8-oz blocks) cream cheese
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Berries, Cherries, Peaches (any fruit, really)
Powdered Sugar (optional wow factor)
Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the lower middle position. Wrap a springform pan (I used a 9") with one large piece of tin foil. Make sure there are no seams on the bottom of the pan. Repeat with another sheet or two of tin foil for insurance. Wipe the inside down with butter, margarine or cooking spray. I always add parchment paper to the bottom of my pan so I can easily transfer the finished cake to a cake stand.
For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir until well combined. Press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. I usually use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to make sure it's flat and even. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Start boiling some water for your water bath.
Next is the batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour together on medium speed for about a minute or until just smooth. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary. Mix in the sour cream. Make sure your mixture is just evenly combined, it's easy to over-mix and we don't want to over-mix it.
Once you're sure your oven has cooled to 325°F it's time to bake the cheesecake. Set the cheesecake springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter on top of the crust and then pour the boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. You will definitely think this cake is not cooked yet when it's time to come out. It shouldn't look too liquidy but it should definitely wobble. You don't have to worry- it will continue to cook as it cools down. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and put it on a wire rack. Cool the cheesecake in the water bath for 45 minutes to an hour or until the water is just warm. Then remove the springform pan from the water bath and remove the foil from the springform pan. I like to run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it's not sticking to the sides. When it cools and contracts, it'll crack if it's stuck. Cover with plastic wrap and cool it in the fridge for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve the cheesecake right from the base of the pan or transfer it to a cake platter. You can add berries, cherries, peaches, any fruit you want. I like to add a thin layer of blueberry compote to the top of my cake then coat my berries in it as well. That way when I decorate the cake with them, they shimmer and shine. I also like to add powdered sugar on top for the extra wow.
If you're more of a visual person, check out the video below illustrating the recipe step-by-step with tips and tricks peppered in. Video Length: 1:36