So last week I made a cheesecake for the first time. It took me so long to get around to making one because cheesecakes look hard! Happily, it wasn’t so bad. Preparing the batter and crust were easy — only the baking was a bit stressful as I wasn’t sure whether to do the recommended ‘water bath’ or not. So I compromised by putting a water bath in the bottom of the oven and baking the cake on a rack above it (instead of wrapping the cake pan in tinfoil, sticking it in the water, and hoping that it doesn’t get wet). This was also a great excuse to buy a springform pan from Golf. I got one with a cute little cover and handle so I could carry the cake to a party later that day!
This cheesecake has a slight lemon-y flavor. If you don’t want that, feel free to take out the lemon juice or reduce it.
I took the original recipe from here and made a few adjustments according to what I had available to me in Israel and user comments.
2 cups finely ground vanilla tea biscuits
(graham crackers are preferred, but good luck finding them in Israel)
1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour (corn starch)
500 mL sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (325 degrees F).
In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Don’t worry if this 1-inch is not completely even. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (a hand mixer is OK too), beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.Add sour cream, lemon juice, corn flour, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake.
This water-bath is done so that the cheesecake doesn’t crack. I am sure it will taste just as good if you don’t want to do it. In order to make sure no water seeped into the cheesecake, I modified this a bit and placed the roasting pan with boiling water on the bottom of my small oven while placing the cheesecake on the rack above. Make sure not to open the door of the oven often, as this will allow steam to escape.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate.
Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.