The State of Cheesecake

There is New York Style Cheesecake, and then are all the others.

There is cheesecake and then there is New York Style Cheesecake. New York Cheesecake is pure, undulated cheesecake with no fancy ingredients or flavors.

While cheesecake originated in Ancient Greece, and just about every country and culture has its own version of “cheesecake”, native New Yorkers claim that cheesecake wasn’t really cheesecake until it was cheesecake in New York.

Surprisingly enough, New York Style Cheesecake is easy to make. Just plan ahead, follow this recipe and soon you’ll proudly be slicing and serving the best cheesecake you’ve ever tasted.

 

 New York Style Cheesecake

Yield: 1 9-inch cheesecake

1 9-inch sponge cake crust, baked and cooled (recipe follows)

4 (8 ounce) packages of full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 2/3 cups of sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 extra large eggs, room temperature

¾ cup of heavy cream, room temperature

Make and bake the sponge cake crust, as directed. Leave the oven on. Let the crust cool while you make the filling.

While the crust cools, place 1 package of the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat on low for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. After the starter batter is well mixed, beat in (low speed please) the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time. Beat well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Make sure each package of cream cheese is well incorporated before adding the next package. This may take up to 3 minutes to get all the cream cheese perfectly incorporated.

Increase the mixer speed to medium (no faster) and beat in the remaining sugar, then the vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the cream just until completely blended.

Gently spoon the filling over the cooled crust and place the pan in the center of a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1” up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake until the edge of the filling is light golden brown and the top is light golden tan, about 1 ¼ hours.

Gently remove the cake from the water bath, and transfer the pan to a wire rack, remove the foil and leave the cake on the rack for at least 2 hours.  Walk away; leave the cake alone to cool in peace. If you move or jiggle or otherwise bother the cake you risk cracking the top.

Once the cake has cooled for 2 hours, cover with loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Do not remove the cake from the pan yet. After the cake has chilled overnight, release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the chilled cake to a serving plate.

If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the pan, place the chilled cake in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then warm the bottom of the pan by placing the cold cake on a hot towel or over a stove burner set on extremely low heat. Warm for no more than 15 seconds, just enough to melt the butter used to grease the pan but not long enough to make the pan hot.  Release the spring and remove the side of the pan.  Insert a long metal spatula between the cake and the pan bottom, move it in a circle and lift up on the cake just enough to release the vacuum.  Slide the cake onto a serving plate.

This cake store refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

 

 

Sponge Cake Crust

Yield: 1 9-inch crust

1/3 cup of sifted cake flour

¾ teaspoon of baking powder

pinch of salt

2 extra large eggs, at room temperature and separated

1/3 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon lemon extract

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan (preferably a non-stick pan). Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending up the side of the pan, so water will not leak into the cheesecake as it bakes.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and then place the dry ingredients back in the sifter.

Beat the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer set on high speed for 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly add half the sugar and continue beating until the egg mixture is thick and light yellow ribbons form when the mixture is dropped from a spoon, about 3 minutes more.

Beat in the extracts; sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir with a wooden spoon just until no more white flecks of flour are visible. Stir in the melted butter. Set the batter aside.

Wash the beaters well and dry them completely. Place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the egg whites are frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Stir 1/3 of the egg white into the batter to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites. Fold until barely combined; you will see white streaks, this is ok. Do not over mix.

Gently spread the batter into the prepared springform pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake until the top looks golden and set, 10-13 minutes. Do not over bake, the cake should be golden and not brown. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool while you make the cheesecake batter.