light, creamy, and bright
The Jewish holiday of Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks) begins at sundown tonight, and many will be celebrating by eating dairy, and especially cheesecake, Shavuot’s traditional dessert of choice. There are many cheesecake recipes out there, but if you are looking for something simple, that’s also light and creamy (with a touch of citrus), this is the one for you. I trust Flour Bakery with all baked goods and their “luscious cheesecake” is no exception. One change I made to their recipe was to use granulated sugar instead of vanilla sugar. In good news for those without a springform pan, Alton Brown says “a cheesecake needs a springform pan like a fish needs a bicycle”–he’s right! For instructions on doing this springform-free, check out my instructions in the notes for baking this in a 9-inch round cake pan. Chag Sameach to all celebrating, and to everyone else, who doesn’t deserve a good cheesecake, even on a weeknight?
- 168 grams of graham crackers (I use the already-crushed ones)
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar (for the crust)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (for the filling)
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) of cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approximately 1 and 1/2 lemons)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of sour cream or crème fraîche
- Pre-heat oven to 350℉, with the oven rack in the center.
- Butter the bottom and the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom of it with parchment paper.
- Use 2-3 tbsp of the graham cracker crumbs to dust the sides of the buttered pan.
- Add the melted butter and 2 tbsp granulated sugar to the graham cracker crumbs and mix until they come together (I do it by hand but you can use a processor). Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan (on top of the parchment paper).
- Bake the crust at 350℉ until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
- Turn down the oven to 325℉.
- While you are baking the crust, beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer at medium speed for about 1 minute.
- Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar to the cream cheese and beat for 10-15 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the eggs and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt and sour cream or crème fraîche and beat for 1-2 more minutes. Give the sides and bottom of the bowl a scrape and mix for another 15-20 seconds, until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the baked crust.
- Place the springform pan in a deep roasting pan. Put it on the middle rack of the oven and then fill the roasting pan up with hot water until it reaches halfway up the springform pan height (baking it in the water pan will give you a smoother cake).
- Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set and the center wobbles a bit when you jiggle the cake – about 90 minutes.
- Turn off the oven but let the cake cool in the oven for an hour (you will avoid having a cracked cake by doing this).
- Remove it from the oven and and let it cool on a wire rack for an hour at room temperature. Refrigerate it for 3-4 hours before serving. To serve it, remove the pan sides and place the cake (still on the bottom of the springform pan) on a serving plate. Slice and serve! The parchment paper will help the cake slide off as you slice.
*you can store the cheesecake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
**Instructions for using a 9 inch round cake pan instead of a springform.
Use a 9-inch round cake pan and prepare it the same way as outlined above. Once the cheesecake has cooled at room temperature for an hour, wrap the pan in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer overnight. Remove from the freezer, unwrap it and place the cake pan directly on the stove on very low heat for 1 minute (this loosens the bottom of the cake from the dish). Run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan sides. Take a plate place it upside down on the top of the cake pan and flip the pan upside down. Tap on the back of the cake pan until the cake pops out of the pan and onto the plate. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake. Turn the cake right side up on a cake plate. You can keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.