A la New York style cheesecake
I think it was around 2005, or even just a bit before, when I ordered a book from Cheesecake Factory and then one more, I don’t really remember. I was disappointed when what came was smaller than my wallet, but I studied them carefully nevertheless. What, when, why. It was a time, when Latvians still only ate sponge cakes, and only the lucky ones who travelled knew the beauty of silky cheesecake. I made them in a water bath, always. Eleven years later, I learned that you do not need a water bath, but a low temperature. I believe the truth still lies somewhere in between, and while bakers are still arguing about that, we just keep on baking and enjoying cheesecake as it is – very, very good.
for the base:
380 g cookies – pretzels and butter cookies
100 g butter, melted
for the filling:
900 g cream cheese, room temperature
45 g cornstarch
250 g golden caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
7 medium eggs
250 g sour cream
1 vanilla bean, only seeds
500 g thick, creamy sour cream
¼ tsp vanilla powder
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
handful of pretzels
Heat the oven to 200° from the top and bottom. Place the rack one level below centre. Line the bottom of a 23 cm diameter cake pan with parchment paper.
Prepare the base. Butter the sides of the pan. Process half the cookies quite finely and place in a bowl. Add the butter and mix. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, making it about 5mm thick. Make sure the corner is not too thick. Put in the oven for 15 minutes and then remove.
Lower the oven temperature to 140°.
Prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, place 1/3 of the cream cheese, about 50 g sugar, and cornstarch. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment, but if you don’t have one, then use whisk balloon, and whisk for about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides, until the mixture is creamy. Continuing beating, gradually add another 1/3 of the cream cheese, incorporating well. Repeat with the last 1/3. When all the cream cheese has been added, add the remaining sugar in two parts. Then, while the mixer is running, add the vanilla and salt. Slowly mix everything in, scraping down the sides. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well and scraping down the sides. While the mixer is on low speed, add sour cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix everything well on low speed, just until fully incorporated.
Pour into the pan and bake for around 1 h 15 minutes. Don't open before the 45 minutes, and only then try to shake the pan just a bit. If the mixture is set on the sides and jiggles just a tiny bit in the centre, it is ready. If it moves a lot, then bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature (completely), cover with cling film, and refrigerate for 12 hours.
For the top layer – pour sour cream into a very fine sieve (or if you have one with bigger holes, add 2 layers of cheesecloth), place it over a bowl, cover, and let stand in the fridge for 12 h.
Finish the cake. Take the cake out of the fridge. For the top layer, mix the sour cream cheese with sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Spread on the cake in an even layer, leaving 1 cm from the sides.
Decorate with pretzels.
Recipe and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s