March 13, 2007

Tall & creamy basic cheesecake

I suppose it follows that if you're a freak for cheese, you're a freak for a good cheesecake. This is definitely true for me. I adore them both.

I think I must have tried almost a dozen different cheesecake recipes in my lifetime searching for the one. Not too long ago I followed a cheesecake recipe from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Classic Recipes book, thinking this would yield the quintessential homemade cheesecake I was searching for. It was good but not great. The lack of greatness may have been due to my own shortcomings but I'm pretty confident I followed it to the tee. I'm far from being a professional or even seasoned baker though, so don't take my word for it. :)

Those jiggly gelatinous cheesecakes just don't do it for me. And while I prefer my cheesecake plain, you won't find me turning down the occasional fruit-topped one or any of those gourmet flavored cheesecakes either. I'm pretty easy to please as long as it's creamy. Oh and the crust must be good! I'm partial to graham cracker crusts, but am also eager to experiment using the wide variety of options out there like gingersnap cookie crusts- yum!

When I'm craving and too lazy to make my own, I turn to the old reliable cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. You can pick up a pick up a frozen box at S & R (it's about P1,200 if I'm not mistaken) or buy them by the slice from The Old Spaghetti House. Recently I had the craving, but couldn't sleep so I consulted my new best bud Dorie then ordered 4 boxes of Philadelphia cream cheese from our neighborhood store - they deliver anything from candy bars to blank cds to ice to... you name it (yes, we are spoiled like that☺).

I knew this was serious business, using 4 boxes like that. And it was. I practically had to lift the cake out of the oven with a crane! It was super heavy and very dense. Nope, nothing light and fluffy about this baby. The top took on a golden brown sheen, the crust had a nice crunch to it and the sides were bursting with cheesy creaminess ( I didn't bother smoothing them out, I like how that makes it look 'rustic'). It was in my opinion perfect in every way. It was creamy, it was velvety, it was rich, it was luxurious. This, this right here my friends is the stuff dreams are made of!

Tall and creamy basic cheesecake:
recipe from : Baking, from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

for the crust:
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsps. sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

for the cheesecake:
2 lbs (four 8 oz. boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream (you can also use heavy cream or a combination of the two)

To make the crust:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan (with sides at least 2 inches high), and wrap the bottom of the pain in a double layer of aluminium 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. Transfer into the springform pan & use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350° F.

Center a rack in the oven and place the springform pan on a baking sheet then bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

To make the cheesecake:

Boil some water.

Beat the cream cheese at 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.

Put the springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape all of it into the springform pan. The batter may reach the rim of the pan. 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 & 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and crack the oven door open a little, if needed you can prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully remove the roasting pan out of the oven, then transfer the springform pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to come to room temperature. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate overnight.

At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake on a serving platter.

* * *

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. And as much as I adore this basic recipe, I'd like to play around with some variations such as adding lemon for a lemon cheesecake, slipping a layer of berries in the middle - blueberry most likely, and using a gingersnap crust.

In her book, Dorie offers us some very helpful tips on making great cheesecake:

Prebake the crust: the 10-minute baking is what gives the curst it's nice crunch. For best results, slide the pan with the crust into the freezer first while you preheat the oven.

Mix like mad: for that flawlessly smooth texture that is the hallmark of a great cheesecake. Make sure to blend the batter until it is satiny, any lumps in the batter will not disappear during baking.

Cool the cake: cooling and then chilling the cake is as important a step in its preparation as baking.

Unmold it with care: run a blunt knife around the cake and then warm the sides of the pan with a hairdryer.


Unknown said...

mmmm and double mmmm! we all love cheesecake! the kids will be on summer break. am lining up recipes to bake with them. this and the nuttela muffins are definitely on the list.

Anonymous said...

Apart from chocolate desserts, cheesecake is my favorite -- the richer and creamier, the better! And yours looks just perfect; I couldn't stop looking at the pictures! Many years ago, I used to bake a cheesecake based on my friend's recipe (she's a professional baker) which contained 3 boxes of cream cheese and had a sour cream topping. That was the richest cheesecake I'd ever had...until last year, when my sister found a recipe that called for FIVE boxes! It was almost TOO rich, but was perfectly tempered by the addition of lemon. I think a gingersnap crust would've improved it too, added some "bite" to it. Ooohhh...I am now craving and drooling!!! Your family's incredibly lucky to have you, always cooking and baking your goodies for them!

Anonymous said...

you know,it takes a foodie to understand another foodie... this cheesecakes looks delicious. and i havent had cheesecake in a long while

Sidney said...

You should start a cheesecake café!
I will be your first customer !

Unknown said...

Bravo Nens! That was a beautiful cheesecake. I used to make a pretty mean cheesecake back home. But there, my mom had maids to do the clean up afterwards. Plus we had the mixer too. Alas... I am just finding excuses really.... Once I get this year's Xmas gift (my Kitchen Aid mixer), I will make some.

Someone just has to tell G that that is what I want for Xmas this year.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a vision! I was just thinking of making cheesecake...but didn't have the ingredients, including the pan (!), zoiks! This looks like the ultimate indeed! I must get that book soon...such excellent reviews!

christine said...

Hey gins! I've got recipes I wanna try with them too and I can't wait. Let me know if you're (or Luis is) coming over soon and I'll send you a slice to try. :)

Hi Katrina, thanks! :) On the flipside, they're also the unlucky guinea pigs for my unsuccessful kitchen experiments. hehe
Wow 5 boxes! I can't even begin to imagine that!

Hey Mirs! You gotta try this recipe, it's really that good. Do rocio and Tboy like cheesecake?

Sidney,haha, as much as I love the idea, I'm afraid it would go bankrupt. I'd probably eat out the display case, and give away slices for free to my friends who come in. :)

christine said...

Hi KM! G must know! How do we tell him? In the meantime, do you have a hand mixer? There really aren't that many bowls to clean up after. :) And I promise it's totally worth it!

Hi Jo, it's such an awesome book and has become an instant favorite of mine. There are so many recipes on it I wanna try but don't have enough time!

Anonymous said...

OHHHH YUM. YUM YUM ... I bet that wouldn't go down well in my healthy eating plan though. Boo!

Anonymous said...

Wow! The words freak, cheese, and cheesecake all within the first sentence. You are speaking my language! I adore cheesecake, and it's time to make the first cheesecake since moving here. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

The cake looks perfect! I love the way you've photographed it and I'm delighted that you were so happy with it. Given how finicky you say you are about cheesecake, it's very high praise that you like this one so much -- thank you!

And, please, may have one of those stores that delivers everything? Please.

christine said...

Alynda, I'm jealous of your will power. I wish I had a strict healthy eating plan as well, I need it! Ok, maybe after this cheesecake runs out. ;)

Hi Rowena! You must! And this is a good recipe to use for your first cheesecake in Italy. :)

Wow, hi Dorie! Speaking of high praise, I'm humbled and absolutely thrilled beyond words that you've come to my blog! Thank you so much for the kind words and for taking the time to drop by. - from one of your biggest fans :)

Watergirl said...

Beautiful cheesecake!!! And I can just imagine how it tastes, the creaminess and the rich velvety tones. Makes me want to fly to New York! But easier just to make it at home!
I'd definitely want a hint of lemon if I used 4 boxes of cream cheese though. Or some of Joey's kumquat marmalade to cut the cream.

christine said...

Hi Mila, I'm sure the addition of lemon would be wonderful, as much as I love it as is, so I want to try that next. I'm also dreaming of it with a sliver of blueberries in the middle, or slathered on the crust before pouring in the batter. Yes, definitely cheaper to make your own then fly to NY! But not as much fun :)

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful cheesecake! I'll take my slice with strawberries and a chocolate drizzle!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Uhoh, cheesecake. Love cheesecake.
Want cheesecake. Like at this minute!

(and a personal message from Dorie as well, you must be floating! Congrats!)

christine said...

Hi Sandi, thank you. Your slice sounds divine, I think I'll have the same!

Karen, I was floored! I didn't believe it at first, but have seen her comment on other blogs before so I know it's not entirely impossible, considering also that I left a note in her site to let her know I loved her cheesecake recipe. :) Dorie definitely made my day/week with that comment! :)

heather said...

nuttela muffins!!! gotta find that. i ~love~ nuttela. made the cheesecake today. how very yummy. thank you!

vina said...

wow...that looks reeeeally delicious. makes me miss bacolod's calea blueberry cheesecake :( have you tried that?

christine said...

Hey heather! Good to see you here. :) I'm so happy you liked it. Always happy to share a good recipe.

Hi Vina, no I haven't. How good is it? And will it survive the plane if I ask my brother to bring it home with him the next time he comes?

Lori said...

This cheesecake looks GREAT, Nena! Congratulations. I like the photo where the cheese appears to feather over the crust.

christine said...

Thanks Lori!! :) I liked it too and didn't want to ruin that by smoothing the sides. Receiving that comment from such a talented food photographer as yourself, I am very flattered! :)

Didi said...

The cheesecake looks wonderful!! Yummy!!

christine said...

Di, yummy is right! Try this recipe. I guarantee you'll love it. :)

vina said...

you should try it Tin, and i hope you do like it! and yes, it will mom sends us that cake through plane :)

christine said...

Sayang, my brother was just here last weekend for a wedding and I had forgotten he was coming. I'll ask him to bring it to Dumaguete when he meets me there from Bacolod for Holy Week.

You called me Tin :) only my cousins and friends from Bacolod and Dumaguete call me that. It must be a Negros thing? :)