Wednesday, June 3, 2009

i baked my first cheesecake the other day, and i have to say it was real delicious. i used a recipe from my "baking bible," baker's illustrated. i was a little shocked at just how much cream cheese goes into a cheesecake, but it was real good. the graham cracker crust really makes it incredible. i found that it's real important to keep an eye on the cake while it's baking, because mine ended up cracking a bit across the middle, which according to the book means that the eggs overcooked a bit while it was cooling. also make sure that it is refrigerated long enough before cutting into it; i would advise at least four hours, which is an hour longer than the minimum that they recommend. when i cut it at about 3 hours or so the center was not firm enough, as the piece i cut out was a bit goopy in the center. also keep in mind that this is not a short process - it takes a long time to bake it, as you'll see. 90 minutes or so in the oven at 200 degrees. i definitely recommend this recipe though. pics first, then i'll post the recipe.

look at all that cream cheese!

mixing all those gobs of cream cheese... still a ways to go!

looking much better, just about ready to go into the springform pan

the finished product, cooling on a wire rack before heading into the fridge

New York Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust:
5 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter (extra tblspn for greasing pan)
8 whole graham crackers broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor until fine
1 tablespoon sugar

2.5 lbs. cream cheese, cut approximately into 1 inch chunks, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

For the crust:
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325. Brush bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with sugar in a medium bowl, and then add the 5 tablespoons melted butter and toss it with a fork until it is evenly moistened. Press the mixture evenly in the pan bottom; it helps to use the bottom of a measuring cup for the center and then a spoon for the outer edges. Bake the crust until it becomes fragrant and begins to brown, about 12 - 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
For the filling:
Increase the oven temperature to 500. In the bowl of a standard mixer, beat the cream cheese and medium-low speed for about 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add salt and about half the sugar and beat again at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl again and then add the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and beat at a low speed until it is combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl, then add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and add the eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.
Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baing sheet (to catch any spills if pan leaks), and pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 500. WITHOUT opening the oven door, turn the oven temperature down to 200 and bake until an instant thermometer stuck into the cheesecake reads 150, about 1.5 hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, about 2.5 to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the pan sides (to prevent cracking as the cake continues to cool), and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan, and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.