This classic baked cheesecake is rich and creamy yet light, sweet without being overly sweet, and has a fresh tinge of lemon. With a couple of little but important tips, you will be very surprised how easy this is to make!
I think some people find the idea of making cheesecakes daunting, especially ones where the biscuit crust comes up the side like this one. But you know what? In my humble opinion, cheesecake is easier to make than cakes. You don’t need to worry about the cake rising, or even sadder is when it sinks in the middle while it cools (such a let down after thinking you’ve nailed it!). And it’s definitely easier than making pastry.
The risk of failure with baked cheesecakes is lower. There’s no rising agent, no gelatine to set it. Sure, you might end up with a cracked surface – in which case, just hide it under icing sugar and/or a pile of berries – or the biscuit crust cracks a bit.
See? How would anyone know if the surface is cracked?? 😉
The other thing (I think) people worry about is the biscuit crust. I always stress that the crust is going to crack but it always surprises me how well it holds together when I’m handling the finished cheesecake. It’s firm but has a little give so it doesn’t crack with the slightest bend.
One little tip I have to reduce crust cracking risk when handling the finished cake is to invert the base of the springform pan. Though the ridge around the base is small, sometimes it can be a real pain to transfer the cheesecake out of the base onto the serving platter. So make your life easier by inverting the base so it’s perfectly flat so the cheesecake will slide right off onto the platter.
And I think the other concern that people have is the thought of moulding the crust into the cake tin. But really, it is easy if you use a glass or cup to press the crumbs up the wall and flatten the base. See? (Baby Hands alert!)
There are many, many more technical tips I could share, but to be honest, I don’t overthink it. It’s hard to muck up the cheesecake filling, in fact, it’s the easiest part of the recipe. I’ve overcooked it by 15 minutes and while it was not quite as light as it should be, it was still lovely and creamy. I’ve experimented with different biscuits and once the crust on the side crumbled when I took it out of the pan. Of course I was disappointed, but I merely ran a knife around the edge to remove residual crumbs and served it as a cheesecake with only a biscuit base, as many cheesecakes are.
There is a video in the making. I was really keen to show you just how easy this to make. It would have been published with this post except a certain very large-furry-rascal with Giant Paws bumped the tripod while filming so I ended up with 10 minutes of footage of my dirty bench top.
I was extremely cranky with him. Yet look at him, eyeing the cheesecake! He still thinks he’s going to get some!!! Not a chance Dozer, not a chance!!!
What it tastes like
Even excluding fancy schmancy versions, the Cheesecake Spectrum is very broad and this version is a classic one that sits in the middle.
On one hand, you have cheesecakes that are very dense and creamy which weigh a ton. To be honest, these are my least favourite. Many no-bake cheesecakes have a tendency to be too heavy. On the other side of the Cheesecake Spectrum, you have cheesecakes that are so light and airy, it is almost like a mousse.
This one is in between. It is creamy and definitely indulgent, but not dense. The cheesecake filling is lightened up by beating it, the addition of sour cream and of course baking it which makes it rise slightly.
It’s sweet but not overly so. I have more of a savoury than sweet tooth so I don’t enjoy extremely sweet desserts too much.
And lastly, I don’t call this a lemon cheesecake because I only add a touch of lemon zest. But I really do think it makes a big difference – it just lifts the filling, gives it a slight fresh touch without being obviously lemon.
Does that makes sense?
All those words to describe the cheesecake. I should have just said – THIS IS DARN DELICIOUS!!! – Nagi x
- 250 g Arnott's Marie crackers (Aus) or 2 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers (US) (Note 1)
- 2/3 cup / 5.3oz / 150g unsalted butter , melted
- 1 lb / 500g Philadelphia cream cheese , softened
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp / 125g / 4.5oz sour cream (full fat)
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 eggs , at room temperature
- Icing sugar / confectionary sugar
Preheat oven to 160C/320F (fan forced) / 180C/350F (conventional).
Get a 20cm/8" springform cake tin. Turn the base UPSIDE DOWN (Note 2), butter lightly and place a piece of parchment/baking paper on the base. Then clip into the springform pan - excess paper will stick out, see photo below.
Butter and line the side of the pan.
Break up biscuits roughly by hand and place in a food processor OR crush in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin or large can.
Place biscuits and melted butter in a bowl and mix - it will resemble wet sand. (Note 3)
Pour into the prepared cake tin. Use a spoon or spatula to roughly spread it out over the base and up the walls. Use something with a flat base and vertical edges (I used a measuring cup) to press the crumbs up the wall and flatten the base. Make the wall 4cm / 1 3/5" high, measuring from the biscuit base.
Use a mixer or beater to beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy - around 1 1/2 minutes.
Add flour, beat until just combined. Add vanilla, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest. Beat until just combined. Add eggs one at a time, beat in between until just combined.
Pour mixture into prepared crust.
Bake for 45 minutes, rotating halfway. The top should be a light golden brown and hopefully not cracked, and it should jiggle slightly when you gently shake the pan.
Cool the cake in the oven with the door open 20 cm / 8" (Note 4), then refrigerate for 4 hours.
Top with berries, dust with icing / confectionary sugar, and serve with pride!
1. I find the absorbency of biscuits slightly different which is why the quantity of biscuits is slightly different. I am in Australia and with Arnott's Marie crackers, 1 packet is perfect. (Update: 1 packet 250g Arnott's Arrowroot also works perfectly).
With Graham Crackers, I pulverise 30 then measure out 2 1/4 cups and usually have a little bit left over. It's important to measure it out because otherwise the crumb will be too wet (hard to mould) or too dry (won't hold together).
2. The base of springform pans have a slight ridge. By inverting it, there is no ridge which makes it easier to slide the cheesecake on a serving platter without ruining the crust. There is no risk of batter leakage as the crust is thick enough to hold it all in.
3. Do not combine the biscuit crumbs and butter using the food processor as it can turn into a paste instead of a wet crumb which makes it very hard to press into the cake tin.
4. This helps stop the surface from cracking.
5. I have made this recipe using both US and Australian measures, using Australia Marie crackers and US Graham Crackers (the last packet I brought back!). The Graham Cracker crust is slightly crunchier because the biscuit doesn't crush to a fine sand like Marie Crackers do. Both are delicious!
6. No nutrition. Just accept that this is a treat! 🙂