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Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

December 2, 2008

cheesecake3

So to kick off this holiday season, I was in search of the perfect cheesecake recipe. I’ve made a couple different varieties in the past but until now I’ve yet to come across a plain cheesecake with the “wow factor” that makes me want to make it my go-to cheesecake recipe.

cheesecake4

The issue for my finding an awesome cheesecake recipe has always been where to look.  There are hundreds and hundreds of different cheesecake recipes out there – which one would I choose?  I decided to not waste any time sifting through tons of recipes on the internet and I went straight for Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.  Many of the recipes I’ve made from Dorie’s most recent book have turned out wonderful, including the aforementioned Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake so I figured I’d give her plain cheesecake a shot too.

cheesecake1

This was hand’s down the best plain cheesecake I’ve ever made.  It was creamy, light, and just so flavorful that I probably could have eaten half of the cheesecake in one sitting.  This was the type of cheesecake that just melts away in your mouth.  The type of cheesecake that you want to linger on your taste buds forever.  The type of cheesecake that is the perfect for a kick-ass strawberry topping (see recipe below).  I followed the recipe and instructions exactly as Dorie wrote them and had no issues at all.  And after this being the 2nd Dorie cheesecake I’ve made using a waterbath, I’m totally sold on the technique, even if it is a little time consuming to set up.

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake: A Basic

source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours

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 boxes) 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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..
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

To Make the Cheesecake Batter

  1. Put a kettle of water on to boil
  2. 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.
  3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.
  8. 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.

Strawberry Topping

source: Smells Like Home

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries (we froze ours fresh after picking them this summer), thawed
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam (we used Smuckers)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp orange juice

In a small saucepan, stir all ingredients together over medium-low heat.  Cook until jam has thinned out and strawberries begin to breakdown, about 10-15 minutes.  Turn heat down to low if mixture begins to boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. joelen permalink
    December 2, 2008 12:44 pm

    That is one *gorgeous* cheesecake! Beautiful job… so much so that I’m craving a slice! 🙂

  2. December 2, 2008 4:05 pm

    This looks amazing! I’m so excited to get a springform pan (hopefully!) for Christmas so I can make this. YUM.

  3. December 2, 2008 5:51 pm

    wow, that first picture is just BEAUTIFUL! i can’t wait to make this later in the month for TWD now 🙂

  4. December 3, 2008 9:18 am

    Holy smokes that cheesecake looks awesome. I’ll give it a shot and hope it looks half as pretty as this!

  5. December 3, 2008 11:37 am

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it.

  6. December 4, 2008 10:11 am

    Creamy and dreamy! YUM!! Looks delicious!

  7. December 28, 2008 5:01 pm

    It looks sooo great..!! How did you not get cracks in your top? Mine had a few fissures..it did not change the taste at all but wow yours is visual perfection. Love it!

  8. Helen G permalink
    May 18, 2009 1:58 pm

    Can I make the crust go up the side of the cake without ruining the recipe. I am making it for a friend’s birthday party and she just loves the graham cracker crust all the way up the side of the cake.

    • smellslikehome permalink*
      May 18, 2009 2:32 pm

      Definitely! I’m pretty sure the amount of crumbs/butter in the recipe allows for the crumbs to run up the side. I always have trouble with that which is why I just made a bottom crust.

  9. Annette permalink
    December 31, 2009 10:19 am

    OMG! I tried the recipe and it’s great! Nice creamy texture. When I was growing up, family used to make cheesecake that was huge and tall. If my spring form pan was taller I think this would be close to what they made. They used the kind of pan for Angel Cakes.

    Thanks for the recipe and the Tips are 100% useful!!

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