Cheesecake - The one and only New York Cheesecake recipe you will ever need

Cheesecake - The one and only New York Cheesecake recipe you will ever need

There are so many cheesecake recipes and I don’t mind experimenting with different flavour combinations, no bake versions, cheesecake bars, etc. but when it comes to a classic baked New York Style Cheesecake, there’s only one recipe that I do not dare to change. This iconic American version has a long history and the recipe held up through the decades, arguably being one of the most famous recipes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cherry-topping-cheesecake.jpg
I test recipes and techniques relentlessly. I cut this cheesecake into slices after waiting a certain number of hours. This picture here is after 18 hours of chilling time. As you can see, the cut is a lot more precise than very first picture which was sliced after only 12 hours.

I’ve always been obsessed with all things New York, in addition the history of 1920’s and 1930’s has been most fascinating to me with the Prohibition, speakeasies and the Great Depression. So to know that my favourite dessert was created in New York during that era, makes it extra special for me!

Although the cheesecake itself, outside of North America, has a long history dating back to the Ancient Greece, cream-cheese based version of the cheesecake did not come to light until 1930s.

The first American cream cheese cake dates to 1929 and the creation of it is credited to Arnold Reuben, New York Restauranteur and a German-Jewish immigrant, who developed first cream-cheese cake recipe after being served a cheese pie in a private home.

But it wasn’t until Leo Lindenmann’s famous New York Deli Lindy’s put the cheesecake on their menu, that this iconic dessert was really put in the spotlight. Lindy’s became most known for its cheesecake, which by many was considered as the most famous cheesecake in the United States. Unofficially, the rumor has it that Leo “Lindy” Lindenmann and his wife hired Reuben’s bakers in order to recreate the 1929 cake recipe, although the two cakes were not the same.

How about this for your next potluck to impress?!

Then the story takes another “Lost and Found” twist. According to the article published in the New York Times in 1977 by Craig Claiborne, Famous Lindy’s Cheesecake recipe seemed to “have disappeared from the face of the earth” after Lindy’s, famous New York Deli, closed its doors in 1969.

The story has it, that this recipe was later recreated by a famous pastry chef, Guy Pascal, who hired an older gentleman who used to make Lindy’s cheesecakes. The older gentleman refused to give away the legendary recipe, but Chef Guy Pascal measured the number of the cheesecakes made against the ingredients used, while watching the man from the corners of his eyes to eventually recreate this iconic treasure. As you can see, there’s a lot of love and history behind this recipe. In my version, I take out the flour (almost a Century after its invention, we now know that water bath helps prevent cracks, while eggs and correct internal temperature ensure the cheesecake sets, eliminating the need for flour) and replace the crust with the simple Graham Cracker crust (I find it a lot easier than the original crust as well as better-tasting.) In addition, the key to making this cheesecake is the temperature contrast. The initial burst of high temperature makes the cheesecake brown and puff up, creating a soufflé-like texture on the inside, while finishing cooking at low temperature ensures the cheesecake is properly cooked while preserving that luscious texture. Unfortunately, many home ovens’ temperatures may be a few degrees off. As such, I’m lowering and increasing the baking temperatures for the cheesecake by 50° (the original recipe calls for 500 and 200 temperature contrast, while I suggest 450 and 250 just to be safe.)

Absolutely no cracks when all the temperature and water bath steps are followed.
I cannot stop taking pictures of this gorgeous creation. I would give anything for you to taste it! You will be blown away by the lightness and texture.

Note: The original recipe calls for lemon and orange rind for a sunkissed finish. It certainly gives it je ne sais quoi. Personally, i prefer to replace this tablespoon of rind with lemon juice, as it provides a more smooth texture. But this is simply a personal preference so I encourage you to try both ways.

Yields12 Servings
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins

For the crust:
 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
 pinch of kosher salt
 7 tbsp butter, melted
 3 tbsp sugar
For the cheesecake:
 5 blocks cream cheese, room temp
 1 tbsp vanilla
 1 ½ tsp lemon rind* see note (or simply 1 tbsp lemon juice)
 1 ½ tsp orange rind* see note
 ¼ tsp kosher salt
 1 ¾ cups plus 1 tbsp sugar
 5 eggs, straight from the fridge
 2 egg yolks, straight from the fridge
 ¼ cup cream (or sour cream for more zing, mix it up!)
 Suggested topping: canned cherry pie topping

1

For crust:
Preheat the oven to 325. Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, 3TBSP sugar and a pinch of salt and mix until blended with a fork. Press into the bottom of lightly greased 9" springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.

2

Increase the oven temperature to 450. Set the rack where your cheesecake will bake on to the lower third of the oven. Set another rack under it and place a large baking sheet/pan filled with water; this will be your "cheater" water bath that will ensure the top of your cheesecake doesn't crack.

I found this "cheater" water bath is just as effective as a more traditional and riskier water bath (that sometimes tends to seep into your cheesecake.)

3

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add room temperature cream cheese and beat on medium (start on low) for 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl and at that point add vanilla, salt, lemon and orange rind (or lemon juice, see note.) Mix on low and when mixed turn the speed up to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

4

Add sugar all at once and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Again, ensure to scrape the sides of your bowl.

5

This next step is used by pastry chefs to achieve the flawless texture of the cheesecake. Place a fine-mesh sieve over your cheesecake bowl and place your eggs and egg yolks in it. With the rubber spatula, press and whisk the eggs until they pass through the sieve; discard clot-like bits that remain. It may seem impossible at first and that the eggs will never pass through, but trust the process with a bit of patience, and they will! It's important to mix the batter on low for a minute or two, as mixing it on higher speed would aerate the batter too much, and these air bubbles may contribute to cracks.

I've attached a picture of what's left behind in a fine-mesh sieve. Doesn't look appetizing, does it? This step ensures all of those "clots" with the unpleasant textures, don't make it into your cheesecake.

6

Again, stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula. Add cream and mix on low for just another minute until combined. Pour the batter into prepared cooled crust and place in the oven for 15 minutes. You are looking for the cheesecake to puff and brown. If the cheesecake did not brown similar to my picture, give it another 5 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 250 and continue baking for another 55-70 minutes (65 for me.)

7

Friends, this next note is very important. This is such a technical cheesecake using the temperature extremes to create the certain texture. The digital instant-read thermometer is an absolute must for this recipe. Testing for doneness by jiggling and touching just won't work to produce consistently reliable results... The cheesecake is very similar in appearance and feel at 30, 45, 60 minutes of baking time... You are looking to get to in between 148 and 152° temperature measured in the middle of your cheesecake. The cake in the picture registered 150 and I found it perfect. At anywhere over 155, in my opinion, the texture suffers.

8

When baked, turn the oven off, leave the door of the oven wide open, pull out the racks gently so the cheesecake is almost on the outside of the oven. This will facilitate the cooling process while the residual heat from the oven will make the process more gradual, which will prevent cracks. After about 20 minutes run a clean thin butter knife between the cheesecake and the springform pan. This will help your cheesecake settle nicely and be easier to remove later. After an hour at room temperature, cover your cooled cheesecake with the plastic wrap and place into the fridge to chill.

9

Now comes the hardest part. Wait. And wait a while. My suggestion is overnight. Ideally 16 hours. But at least 8-12 hours. We are not just looking to cool the cheesecake. We are looking to give this delicate cheesecake sufficient time to set!

10

When ready to serve, run a thin sharp knife under hot water, wipe it with a paper towel (do so after each cut) and slice your cheesecake. Top with the toping of choice and enjoy! I suggest canned cherry pie filling. As much as I don't like pre-made canned things - it just works here!

Ingredients

For the crust:
 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
 pinch of kosher salt
 7 tbsp butter, melted
 3 tbsp sugar
For the cheesecake:
 5 blocks cream cheese, room temp
 1 tbsp vanilla
 1 ½ tsp lemon rind* see note (or simply 1 tbsp lemon juice)
 1 ½ tsp orange rind* see note
 ¼ tsp kosher salt
 1 ¾ cups plus 1 tbsp sugar
 5 eggs, straight from the fridge
 2 egg yolks, straight from the fridge
 ¼ cup cream (or sour cream for more zing, mix it up!)
 Suggested topping: canned cherry pie topping

Directions

1

For crust:
Preheat the oven to 325. Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, 3TBSP sugar and a pinch of salt and mix until blended with a fork. Press into the bottom of lightly greased 9" springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.

2

Increase the oven temperature to 450. Set the rack where your cheesecake will bake on to the lower third of the oven. Set another rack under it and place a large baking sheet/pan filled with water; this will be your "cheater" water bath that will ensure the top of your cheesecake doesn't crack.

I found this "cheater" water bath is just as effective as a more traditional and riskier water bath (that sometimes tends to seep into your cheesecake.)

3

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add room temperature cream cheese and beat on medium (start on low) for 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl and at that point add vanilla, salt, lemon and orange rind (or lemon juice, see note.) Mix on low and when mixed turn the speed up to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

4

Add sugar all at once and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Again, ensure to scrape the sides of your bowl.

5

This next step is used by pastry chefs to achieve the flawless texture of the cheesecake. Place a fine-mesh sieve over your cheesecake bowl and place your eggs and egg yolks in it. With the rubber spatula, press and whisk the eggs until they pass through the sieve; discard clot-like bits that remain. It may seem impossible at first and that the eggs will never pass through, but trust the process with a bit of patience, and they will! It's important to mix the batter on low for a minute or two, as mixing it on higher speed would aerate the batter too much, and these air bubbles may contribute to cracks.

I've attached a picture of what's left behind in a fine-mesh sieve. Doesn't look appetizing, does it? This step ensures all of those "clots" with the unpleasant textures, don't make it into your cheesecake.

6

Again, stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula. Add cream and mix on low for just another minute until combined. Pour the batter into prepared cooled crust and place in the oven for 15 minutes. You are looking for the cheesecake to puff and brown. If the cheesecake did not brown similar to my picture, give it another 5 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 250 and continue baking for another 55-70 minutes (65 for me.)

7

Friends, this next note is very important. This is such a technical cheesecake using the temperature extremes to create the certain texture. The digital instant-read thermometer is an absolute must for this recipe. Testing for doneness by jiggling and touching just won't work to produce consistently reliable results... The cheesecake is very similar in appearance and feel at 30, 45, 60 minutes of baking time... You are looking to get to in between 148 and 152° temperature measured in the middle of your cheesecake. The cake in the picture registered 150 and I found it perfect. At anywhere over 155, in my opinion, the texture suffers.

8

When baked, turn the oven off, leave the door of the oven wide open, pull out the racks gently so the cheesecake is almost on the outside of the oven. This will facilitate the cooling process while the residual heat from the oven will make the process more gradual, which will prevent cracks. After about 20 minutes run a clean thin butter knife between the cheesecake and the springform pan. This will help your cheesecake settle nicely and be easier to remove later. After an hour at room temperature, cover your cooled cheesecake with the plastic wrap and place into the fridge to chill.

9

Now comes the hardest part. Wait. And wait a while. My suggestion is overnight. Ideally 16 hours. But at least 8-12 hours. We are not just looking to cool the cheesecake. We are looking to give this delicate cheesecake sufficient time to set!

10

When ready to serve, run a thin sharp knife under hot water, wipe it with a paper towel (do so after each cut) and slice your cheesecake. Top with the toping of choice and enjoy! I suggest canned cherry pie filling. As much as I don't like pre-made canned things - it just works here!

Cheesecake
Even though the cheesecake is so silky and smooth, sufficient chilling time and using hot dry knife ensures sharp crisp cuts!

Make it Gluten-Free: Replace Graham Crackers with Gluten-Free Graham Crackers. As with all gluten-free recipes, ensure all your ingredients are gluten free and not cross-contaminated. Canned cherry pie topping may not be gluten-free, feel free to serve this cheesecake with Gluten-Free toppings, jams or fresh fruit.

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