Positively Perfect Cheesecake Recipe


For the Crust:

  • 15 Whole Graham Cracker Sheets (not just the halves, or about 1 ½ cups of crumbs)
  • ½ C. really cold unsalted butter, cubed
For the Filling:
  • 5 packages (8 oz. each) full-fat cream cheese
  • ¾ C. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 C. full-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. full-fat sour cream
Additional Equipment Required:
  • A large, 3-inch deep roasting pan, kitchen towel, parchment paper, shortening. A stand mixer and food processor are nice, but not essential. A quart (or more) of boiling water will be necessary for the water bath. (A major appliance work-around will be detailed in the Notes section, below of the body of the recipe.**)

Positively Perfect Cheesecake Recipe


To Prepare the Springform Pan:
  1. For this recipe, use a 10-inch springform pan with 2 ½-inch high sides. Please use a pan with these dimensions, as it is the best for the job.
  2. Remove the bottom of the springform pan and trace it’s diameter with a pencil onto a sheet of parchment paper. Use a measuring tape to measure distance around the (closed) exterior band of the pan, as well as measuring the height of the band. Use those measurements to mark off a long strip of parchment. Cut both the bottom circle and the side strip(s) out of the parchment. Reassemble the springform pan. Set both the bottom circle and sides of parchment in the pan to ensure a proper fit without wrinkly overlaps. Trim edges for a better fit, if necessary.
  3. Lightly grease the bottom and interior sides with shortening. (Baking Spray can be substituted in a pinch, but shortening is really best.)
  4. Line the greased pan with the parchment and lightly grease the top of the paper with a little more shortening.
  5. Wrap the bottom and exterior walls of the prepared pan with a double thickness of aluminum foil; set the prepared pan aside.
For the Crust:
  1. Set the oven rack to the second to the lowest position in the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  3. Break the graham cracker sheets into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor 5 or 6 times, or until the crackers resemble gravel, with some larger pieces.
  4. Cut the cold butter in ¼-inch cubes, and toss them in with the graham cracker pieces in the processor. Pulse the butter into the crumbs until it disappears and the mixture is very moist. (Creating about 1 ¾ to 2 cups of the mixture.)
  5. Dump the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the prepared springform pan.
  6. Press the crumbs into a compact layer on the bottom of the pan, and about an inch up the side walls.
  7. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
  8. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F.

For the Filling:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, cream cheese, flour, and cornstarch on medium speed until very smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl as necessary; turn off the mixer.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream until well blended.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed, and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture and continue to mix until all is incorporated and smooth; scrape down the bowl as necessary. (I find that Speed 2 on my stand mixer works best. I end up scraping down the bowl three times during the process.)
  4. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
To Bake the Cheesecake:
  1. Fold a clean kitchen towel to line the bottom of a large roasting pan.
  2. Set the filled springform pan onto the towel in the center of the roasting pan.
  3. Place the roasting pan onto the second to the lowest rack in the now 250 degree F oven.
  4. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan around the springform pan, until it comes 1 inch up the side of the pan, being cautious not to splash any water onto the filling.
  5. Bake for one hour and ten minutes. Do not open the door of the oven, turn the light on, or otherwise peek at the cheesecake during this time--doing so will cause the oven temperature to fluctuate, and will affect the final results.
  6. After 70 minutes has passed, turn the oven off, and open the door to peek at the cheesecake and allow some of the heat to escape. The outer inch and a half of the cheesecake should look mostly set, with the interior being runny in appearance.
  7. Close the oven door, and continue baking the cheesecake for an additional 62 minutes. The heat remaining in the walls of the oven and in the water surrounding the cheesecake will finish baking the filling. Relax! It’ll be fine!
  8. Again, don’t open the door and peek during this time.
  9. At the end of the final hour of baking, carefully remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan, open the foil around the pan to let any water escape, and set the pan on a wire rack to cool for one hour. The center of the cake may still look a little jiggly, but so long as it doesn't look like soup, this is fine. The custard will continue to set as it cools.
  10. After an hour of cooling on the wire rack, finish removal of the foil surrounding the springform pan. Run a thin knife between the parchment and wall of the pan to ensure that the cake isn't sticking to the sides. The cheesecake will pull away from the wall of the springform pan as it cools. Set the pan in the refrigerator to cool overnight. Do not wrap the pan in any way, as steam will continue to escape during this time. Wrapping the cheesecake would trap the evaporating moisture and cause a layer of water to form on the top of the cake.
For Serving:
  1. Verify that the cheesecake isn’t sticking to the wall of the springform pan before unbuckling the ring and removing it.
  2. To prevent the cake from sticking when cutting, slice it with a sharp knife that has been run under hot water and then dried. If the cake begins to stick or clump on the knife, repeat the warming under water process before continuing.

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