If I had a New York cheesecake, I had to have a London one, and this is surely it. My paternal grandmother instructed me in the art of adding the final layer of sour cream, sugar, and vanilla: and it’s true, it does complete it. I cannot tell you how much the velvety smoothness is enhanced by cooking the cheesecake in the water bath. It’s not hard, though you really must wrap the pan twice in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Once you’ve tried it this way, you won’t even consider cooking it any other.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Formal Dinner Party
Mealdinner, lunch, snack
Taste and Texturecreamy, rich, sweet
Type of Dishcake, cheesecake, dessert
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons or 5 ounces graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or very soft
- 20 ounces cream cheese
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8-inch springform pan
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Process the crackers until they are crumbs at this point, then add the butter and pulse again. Line the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the crumbs in with your hands or the back of a spoon. Put the pan in the refrigerator to set, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Beat the cream cheese gently until it’s smooth, then add the sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, then finally the vanilla and lemon juice. Put the kettle on.
Line the outside of the chilled pan with foil so that it covers the bottom and sides in one large piece, and then do the same again and put it into a roasting pan. This will protect the cheesecake from the water as it is cooked in its water bath.
Pour the cream-cheese filling into the chilled base, and then pour hot water from the recently boiled kettle into the roasting pan around the cheesecake. It should come about halfway up; don’t overfill as it will be difficult to lift up the pan. Put it into the oven and cook for 50 minutes. It should feel set, but not rigidly so: you just need to feel confident that when you pour the sour cream over, it will sit on the surface and not sink in. Whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla for the topping and pour over the cheesecake. Put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Take the roasting pan out of the oven, then gingerly remove the springform, unwrap it, and stand it on a rack to cool. When it’s cooled down completely, put it in the refrigerator, removing it 20 minutes before eating to take the chill off. Unmold and when you cut into it, plunge a knife in hot water first.
2001 Nigella Lawson