Cheesecake is hands down one of my favourite desserts, they’re rich, creamy and seem to be endless in flavours. While I do love a good rich, chocolate cheesecake, it’s summertime and that just seemed like it was going to be too heavy, and there’s such beautiful fruits and berries right now it seemed like a good chance to showcase them, so plain cheesecake it is!
A plain, vanilla cheesecake is a baking basic, and everyone should have a recipe up their sleeve for it. They’re simple, and you can dress it up however you wish and add any flavours that tickle your fancy. I’m not lying though – whatever you can come up with – throw some berries on the top, lemon curd, cover it in chocolate, whip cream, chocolate coffee beans, pie filling, cooked apples, cadbury chocolate eggs…see the list is ACTUALLY endless. Not to mention cheesecake is the perfect MAKE AHEAD dessert, and often tastes better after it has a day to relax and chill!
The whipped egg whites in this recipe are key. It makes the cake soft and fluffy and light instead of being dense and overly heavy. When the cake is done baking, you’ll notice it’s puffed up like a souffle, but as it sits in the oven it will sink back down to normal, so don’t panic if you see it looking like a big puff ball!
Now I’ve tried every trick possible to avoid cracks in my cheesecake. I’ve done the cooking low and slow thing, the water bath trick, the cook it above a water bath – and while some of the tricks have worked sometimes, I by no means believe that they are fool proof every single time. The one that works the most is definitely the water bath though – wrap your springform pan in a few layers of foil, place it in a roasting pan and put about 2 inches of boiling water into the pan. The foil will help the cheesecake cook more evenly and the hot water helps to prevent cracking.
Honestly though, I’m not on a cooking show, my home is not a bakery and people are just happy to have homemade cheesecake. If it does end up cracking…guess what…IT’S OKAY! I did the water bath and mine still cracked around the edges. My ultra secret trick to people not seeing my cracked cheesecake is by covering the top of it, and it’s like it never happened! Even if you don’t cover it with goodies on the top, a crack is not an imperfection, it’s rustic and adds character!
Like I said, even with a water bath my baby still did crack around the edges. I covered it with chocolate dipped strawberries, drizzled melted chocolate, raspberries and blueberries – all my favourite summer treats and it looked pretty good! There was lots of people taking pictures of it as it came out of the fridge – followed by oo’s and ahh’s and then a stream of people asking for the recipe and fawning over it, but little do they know that underneath all that adornment of fruit and chocolate was a cracked cheesecake that got a ” :(” emoji as I put it on the cake pedestal.
Creamy, light, delicious and super versatile – plain cheesecake isn’t so plain after all!
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/3 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 – 8 oz. packages of softened cream cheese
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups sour cream
- 5 egg whites (bring to room temp)
Preheat oven to 325 fht.
Melt butter and stir in graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Combine until it begins to clump up. Press firmly into an ungreased, 10 inch springform pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, until it’s brown. Put aside to cool.
While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling. Beat cream cheese, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth and creamy and no lumps remain. Beat in sour cream and put aside.
In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until a stiff peak forms. This is important because if they are not at a stiff peak you won’t have a fluffy light cheesecake!
Gently FOLD stiff beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture until JUST combined. Do not overmix or you will deflate your beautiful egg whites!
Pour into prepared, cooled crust and bake at 325 for 55-60 minutes until the cheesecake is just set. At this point, turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another hour.
Once the time is up, remove your cheesecake, let cool, and remove the spring form ring.
Now’s the fun part – decorate your cheesecake! Berries, chocolate and fruit are my personal go-to’s, but get creative with your flavours and toppings!
Serves 10-12 and can be made ahead!