This baked cheesecake is rich, dense and very delicious. Flavoured with fresh lemon and vanilla, the contrast between the crispy, buttery crumb base and the creamy, luscious filling was superb.
It’s easy to make and lends itself to so many variations – the only limit is your imagination.
You can see from the photo, that rather than make a smaller cake that was high, I went with a 12″ pan, resulting in a larger, shallower cheesecake. You can choose the size of the pan you use – smaller tin for a sky-high cheesecake or bigger tin for the shallower cake.
Don’t be afraid to make it, have a try, really, it’s easy and you’ll be happy you did. It may not be the cheapest dessert to make but, for special occasions, it can’t be beat.
Preheat your oven to 160C.
You will need to make a crumb base for your cheesecake. Most plain biscuits/cookies are suitable. I used McVities Digestives on this occasion. You can add cocoa, nuts or coconut if you like. Gluten-free folks can use their favourite gluten-free cookie.
Process the biscuits in your food processor until they become fine crumbs.
Now mix in around 125g of unsalted butter that you have melted and cooled a little.
Get your springform pan and tip the butter crumb mixture into it. Start spreading it around the base until it forms an even layer.
Now, get yourself a flat bottomed cup or glass and go over the base with it, flattening down the crumbs.
Put this aside while you make the filling.
Put around 500g of cream cheese into your stand mixer. In Australia, this is equal to 2 of the silver-wrapped blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese.
Tip in one cup of caster sugar, the finely grated rind of 2 washed lemons and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
Start the mixer on low speed, the cheese, when cold, takes a while to start breaking down. It will though and it starts mixing with the sugar to form a smooth, creamy, whippy mix.
When it’s lovely and smooth, start adding 6 eggs, one by one. Increase the mixer speed gradually as you go – you don’t want the eggs flying out everywhere.
Stop the mixture every once in a while and scrape down the bowl with a spatula, just to make sure it’s all mixing together nicely.
When everything is mixed together, take a really good look at it and make sure there aren’t any flecks of uncombined, random cheese bits.
With the mixer on low speed again, add around 300ml of cream and 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the mix. Mix until it is all perfectly combined.
Pour the mixture on top of your crumb base.
Place onto the centre rack of the oven and bake for around 40-45 minutes. The smaller tin/higher cheesecake version will take longer.
When the cake is cooked – it may have a little wobble in the middle but will basically be set, turn off the oven and leave the cake in there, with the door shut, for a couple of hours.
This last bit prevents cracks forming in the top of your cheesecake.
Cool completely before cutting.
Now, I love my cheesecakes topped with fruit, either sliced strawberries glazed with jam or a fruit jelly poured over and allowed to set. However, the lemon/vanilla, unadorned version is the birthday boy’s favourite so, that is what we have here.
My other very favourite version replaces some of the cream cheese with ricotta and included some rum or brandy soaked raisins, along with candied orange and toasted almond in the base. This creates a cheesecake reminiscent of Russian Pashka or the Italian-style cheesecakes you see around the place.
Let me know how you go, I’d love to hear about your favourite cheesecake.