Tall and creamy cheesecake: Everyone needs a classic New York cheesecake in their kitchen repertoire and this one – made consistently without a giant crack through the center! – totally fits the bill.
For updated photos, recipe write-up, and my 11 biggest tips for how to make the best cheesecake, check out this post: Tall and Creamy Classic New York Cheesecake.
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.
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.
The Best Cheesecake Ever.
This was hand’s down the best plain cheesecake I’ve ever made. Ever.
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 with this tall and creamy cheesecake. And after this being the 2nd Dorie cheesecake (this brown sugar apple cheesecake was the first) I’ve made using a waterbath, I’m totally sold on the technique, even if it is a little time consuming to set up.
How to Make a Waterbath
To make a simple waterbath for your cheesecake, follow these easy steps:
- Place a 16-inch piece of extra long (18-inches wide) heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. (If you only have regular aluminum foil, lay 2 16-inch pieces out in a criss-cross pattern/perpendicular and proceed with the steps below.)
- After you press the crust into your springform pan, place the pan in the center of the foil
- Tightly pull the foil up around the sides of the pan in the foil so that no pockets exist that could allow water to seep in between the foil and the pan. If the foil breeches the top of the pan, fold it down on the outside of the pan or cut it off
- Bake your crust and make your cheesecake filling according to the recipe instructions
- Set a large roasting pan out on the counter. Fill a teapot with water and bring to a boil
- Set the wrapped springform pan in the center of the roasting pan
- Pull the center rack of your oven out to its furthest setting
- Set the roasting pan on the rack then slowly pour the boiling water into the roasting pan. Try not to pour near the springform pan to avoid splashing water near the foil.
- Slowly and gently return the rack into the oven
2019 Update: In all the times that I’ve made this cheesecake over the past 11 years, we have yet to be let down by this recipe. It is still my go-to recipe and we still adore it!!
So trust me when I say that you will never be sorry for making this tall and creamy cheesecake!
For the crust:
- 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
- 2 lbs (four 8oz packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cups sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
For the strawberry topping:
- 1 ½ cups frozen strawberries, thawed
- ½ cup strawberry jam
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp orange juice
To make the crust: Butter a 9-inch springform pan - choose one that has sides that are 2 ¾-inches 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 aluminum 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° 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° F.
To make the cheesecake batter: Put a kettle of water on to boil. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
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.
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 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, at which point the top should be lightly browned and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. It should jiggle slightly when you wiggle 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, run thin, hot knife around the interior edge of the pan and remove the sides of the springform pan. Set the cake on a serving platter, slice, and serve.
To make the strawberry sauce: 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.
The most important hint I can give here for making the perfect cheesecake (which this is), is to make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. Cold cream cheese will yield a lumpy batter and when made as instructed, the batter should be silky smooth without any traces of lumps.
cheesecake adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan | strawberry sauce is a Smells Like Home original
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Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs, 13.5 Ounce
Wilton Aluminum Springform Pan, 9-Inch Round Pan for Cheesecakes and Pizza
Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
KitchenAid 6 Qt. Professional 600 Series Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer - Empire Red
Spring Chef Cooling Rack - Baking Rack - Heavy Duty, 100% Stainless Steel, Oven Safe, 12 x 17 Inches Fits Half Sheet Cookie Pan