Hello! I’m here to talk about cheesecake. Before this weekend, I’ll be honest, I had never made a cheesecake in my life. For some reason, I had it in my head that it would be so difficult and it kept me away for years. But then, after quite some begging from my sweet sister Clare (who’s favorite dessert is a good cheesecake), I obliged for her birthday weekend. I followed a recipe from my newly purchased “Vanilla Bean Baking Book” by Sarah Kieffer, and WOW how cute. There’s an entire page in the back for music to listen to while baking!! Anyway, I used her “Classic Cheesecake” recipe as my guide and got going. To my surprise, it was SO simple and SO rewarding. It bakes up smooth and creamy, with a crisp and buttery graham cracker crust, and it’s perfectly offset by the tart, citrusy blueberry sauce that I added. All in all, a perfect combination for a summery dessert, and I am quite pleased with myself.
I think we’re just about in summer now, and the idea of going to the farm and getting fresh corn and watermelon and greens is almost too much to bear. I feel some corn chowder in my future and I’ve never been more excited. But I’ve also hit a kind of inspirational roadblock, so if there’s anything that any of you feel like seeing, by all means, let me know!
But for now, I’ll keep it short and sweet, and let’s get to the baking!
Makes: 1 9″ cheesecake, serves 10-12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 hours (for chilling)
Total Time: 6.5 hours
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or 14 whole graham crackers, pulsed in the food processor)
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. If you’re using whole graham crackers, pulse the pieces in the food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Add to a medium mixing bowl. If starting with pre-made crumbs, start now!
2. Whisk together the crumbs and the granulated sugar until combined. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are coated and pack together if you squeezed them. Pour into a 9″ springform pan and pack down the crust firmly using the bottom of a measuring cup or other flat utensil. I spread most of the crust on the bottom and some up the side of the pan, but if you like a thicker crust, feel free to put less on the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes until slightly crisped and golden.
3. Once the crust has cooled, wrap the sides of the pan with aluminum foil (shiny side facing out) to keep the sides of the cake from browning during baking.
4. Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl 2 or 3 times during the process to make sure that everything is completely smooth.
5. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl down 2-3 times as well. Then, add in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt, and beat until incorporated. Drizzle in the melted butter on low speed.
6. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs and the egg yolk one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. At this point, scrape down the bowl again to make sure that the bottom and sides are all evenly mixed.
7. Pour the filling over your cooled crust and smooth out the top if necessary. Tap the pan on the counter until all the air bubbles rise to the surface- it will take a few tries, there are a lot of bubbles!
8. To bake, place the tin foil wrapped pan in a large roasting tray. Create a water bath by pouring boiling water into the roasting tray so that it reaches about halfway up the springform pan. This will keep the cake moist and prevent any cracks during baking. *Tip- it’s easiest to place the roasting tray on the rack of the oven with the springform pan already in it, and pour the water in then, so that you’re not juggling a tray of boiling water and cheesecake batter into a hot oven!
9. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour without opening the door. After 1 hour is up, check the cake. If the outer 3 inches or so are set and the middle is still slightly jiggly, then you’re finished. If this is not the case, bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, turn the oven off and open the door just slightly, and allow the cake to cool here for 30 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Run a thin knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the pan before cooling, then allow to cool completely. Once the cake is cooled, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight.
11. To remove, run your knife around the edges once more, then carefully remove the outside ring of the springform pan. Slice the cakes into desired sizes and top with a generous portion of the roasted blueberries (recipe immediately below). Yay!
Roasted Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups blueberries
3 tbs granulated sugar
Zest of ½ lemon
Roasted Blueberry Sauce Steps:
1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Place the blueberries in a shallow roasting dish and sprinkle the sugar and lemon zest over the top. Mix to combine.
2. Roast the blueberries for 15 minutes until they are just beginning to burst. Stir the berries around 2-3 times during the roasting to make sure everything is cooking evenly.
3. Allow to cool slightly before serving. This would also be delicious on top of ice cream, pound cake, cocktails, you name it!