Yes this cheesecake is a winner, with or without topping! I stuck with the recipe on this one. I have never baked in a water bath before, so I thought I had better just stick with the directions. I am very pleased with the results, I just wish I had more time to post and blog about this. I even had more pictures and don’t know where they went. :-P I’ve been working so much that squeezing these in is challenging to say the least!
For the Crust:
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 stick 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake:
- 2 lbs four 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream or a combination of the two
To Make the Crust: Butter a 9″ springform pan – choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4″ high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter left over) – and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminium foil.
- Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. ( I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach slightly above or below the midway point on the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
- Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
To Make the Cheesecake Batter:
- Put a kettle of water on to boil. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at a medium speed until soft and creamy; about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition – you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
- Put the foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
- Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula , just to make sure that there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the rim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower side and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or a small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
- After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster – be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
- When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.
- At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan – I use a hairdryer to do this – and set the cake on a serving platter.