Cheesecake is one of the cakes that have been around for ages, literally! Having been made by the Greeks on the island of Samos to provide energy to the athletes that partook in the first Olympic Games, it can honestly be said that this is a true historic cake that has survived the test of time. There are many variations of cheesecake but one of the “classics” is New York Cheesecake. As everything American, it is bold in taste and looks and has become a benchmark of sorts as far as cheesecakes go.
This is my version of the classic: no water-bath and tons of lemon!
For the base:
250g digestive biscuits
120g butter, melted
You need a loose-bottomed cake tin of at least 25/26cm in diameter. If you do not have one as large, bake it in a 23cm tin and make small versions in muffin tins with the leftover mixture!
Break the biscuits up, place them in a plastic bag and crush them to fine crumbs.
Mix with the melted butter and press firmly onto the base of the cake tin.
Place in the refrigerator to firm up.
For the filling:
750g cream cheese
6 eggs, separated
150ml sour cream
grated zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
5ml vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 170℃ on the conventional/static setting. No fan!
Add the sugar and cornflour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the cream cheese and egg yolks and beat until creamy.
Turn the machine to a low setting and with the engine running add the sour cream and cream, a little at a time, giving the ingredients time to incorporate.
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and incorporate.
Add the egg whites to a clean mixing bowl and beat to stiff but not dry, peaks.
Add a third of the egg whites to the cheese mixture and stir through to lighten the batter.
Fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter until evenly mixed.
Take the base from the refrigerator and spoon the cake mixture into it.
Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.
Turn off the oven WITHOUT OPENING THE DOOR TO PEEK, and let the cake stand in it for another hour.
Now, prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon and leave the cake to stand for another hour. This gradual exposure to cold/room temperature air will prevent the cake’s surface from cracking.
Take the cheesecake from the oven and wrap it tightly in aluminium foil. Place in the fridge for 4 hours.
Dust with icing sugar and serve.
For cheesecakes in muffin tins:
Make a crumb as with the large cake.
Spoon enough mixture into the muffin hole to reach two-thirds of capacity.
Bake for 35 minutes.