A couple of weeks ago it seemed to be raining pretty much non-stop. After a week of rain I was in need of a comfort food pick-me-up. Something to turn on my oven and work on throughout the day. Something more involved that I don’t normally take the time to make, especially in the summer. Something indulgent. Cheesecake.
I haven’t made one since we were in New York. I would say it’s about time. And it was so worth every bit of effort it took to make it.
Cheesecake can be an intimidating thing to conquer but with a few tricks up your sleeve you’ll realize that it’s really not that hard to make a perfect cheesecake, it just takes a little bit of time and patience.
Here are a few tips to get you on your way:
1) Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature and beat it well. You want it to be smooth and light. Don’t go crazy with the beating as this can incorporate air bubbles, but do make sure it is mixed until smooth and creamy – no lumps.
2) Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. This will help to keep any chunks of cream cheese that getting stuck to the side from making the batter clumpy.
3) Once the eggs are added, don’t over beat. If you over beat the eggs they will puff up while baking and crack the top.
4) Bake it in a water bath. This helps the cheesecake to bake more evenly and slowly which will lead to a creamier cheesecake and help avoid cracking.
5) Don’t over bake. You want the very centre to still have a slight jiggle when you shut off the oven because the cheesecake will continue to cook from it’s own residual heat.
6) Cool it slowly. Drastic changes in temperature may cause it crack. If you like you can cool it for 20 minutes to an hour in the oven with the door slightly ajar before removing it to cool completely.
7) Let it chill overnight. The longer it chills, the better. It will be dense, creamy and easy to slice.
8) For perfect slices, dip a sharp knife into hot water and wipe it off with a clean cloth between each slice. The warmth helps it slice through the cheesecake easily and cleaning off the knife each time ensures that there will be no sticking or clumping as it slides through.
9) If you won’t be eating all of the cheesecake at once, freeze individual slices for later. To do this, place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until frozen. Once frozen wrap in plastic wrap and place in a resealable plastic bag. Simply thaw in the fridge before serving.
This cheesecake has a light lemon flavour which pairs perfectly with summer berries. We love it just the way it is but if you’re not interested in a lemon flavour, skip the zest and add some vanilla extract in it’s place.
And just remember, even if it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time, it’s still cheesecake! And, that just means you get to make another again soon. Practice makes perfect. ;)
- 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 5 packages (8oz./250g each) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
For crust: In a medium bowl mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and butter, until crumbly. Press into the bottom, and 1 inch up the sides, of a greased 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 375ºF for 12 to 15 minutes, until browned and set. Let cool completely on a wire wrack. Reduce oven to 325ºF.
For filling: Beat cream cheese until fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add sugar gradually; beating well. Beat in lemon zest, juice, and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Do not over beat. Beat in sour cream just until evenly mixed.
Wrap the bottom half of the cooled springform pan in foil. Pour the filling over the crust and place in a roasting pan. Slide the centre rack of the oven out just enough to place the cheesecake onto it, pour boiling hot water into the roasting pan, until it comes halfway up the side of the springform pan, making sure to not get any drops of water in the cheesecake batter. Gently slide the rack back into the oven.
Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until almost set in the centre, a slight jiggle is preferable. Shut off the oven and open the door to be slightly ajar. After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the water and run a paring knife around the edge to loosen. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill overnight before serving.
Adapted from Martha Stewart.