this recipe comes from my father.
i know what you’re thinking. “lisa! you’ve never said anything on this blog about your dad before! i wasn’t sure he existed!”
well, that’s because to be honest… he’s not the first person i go to for recipes. if you want custom designed homemade furniture, or you want to rewire some electrical outlets, or you’re thinking of embedding a 10-foot sundial into your front lawn, or you want to know the difference between a turkey vulture and a california condor, he’s your guy. but he doesn’t cook much, and he bakes even less.
but there’s one thing my dad does bake, and that’s cheesecake. he got this recipe a loooooong time ago from a friend, and he used to make it every year for his office holiday party. i remember watching him put together the filling, shouting “i am a master chef!” and measuring the ingredients more carefully than i had ever seen anyone measure ingredients before (my mom’s style is more throw-in-a-pinch-of-this-and-a-dash-of-that-without-measuring-cause-it-just-feels-right). i actually don’t even know if i ever got to taste the final product, because it was always whisked off to the office party, but i do remember licking the bowl after the cake went into the oven. and it was amaaaaaaazing.
so, sometimes there are moments when i still think about that cheesecake, and wonder what the finished cake actually tasted like. a couple of weeks ago, i had such a moment. and i decided, i don’t need to wait until a special occasion to make cheesecake. i can make an entire cheesecake just for myself, right? alright, i realize that that sounds ridiculous and is probably a terrible idea. but i did it anyway. i texted my dad for the recipe, and a couple of hours later i was returning home from the store with a bag full of cream cheese and sour cream. shortly after that, the cake was in the oven, and a few hours after that, it was ready to be sliced.
i can’t even put it into words. it was so, so good. like… SO good. definitely the best cheesecake i’ve ever had, and i really, really like cheesecake. it had the absolute perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess, and the texture was unreal. baking it in a water bath really helped with that – the steam created by the water allows the cake to cook more gently, giving it the smoothest, creamiest, most beautiful texture ever. i actually had planned to make a fruity sauce to go along with it (hence the raspberries you see in the pictures), but after one bite i realized that this cheesecake was too perfect to be adulterated with some random sauce. it was just perfect in its unembellished state. i’m telling you. perfect.
perfect, classic, creamy, sweet, tangy, rich, decadent, unbelievable cheesecake.
- 1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 crackers)
- ½ cup butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups sour cream
- spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- in a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and cinnamon. press the mixture into the springform pan.
- put the crust in the fridge while you make the filling.
- preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- in a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract. i did this with a hand mixer, but you could also use a stand mixer. mix just until everything is smooth.
- add the sour cream and continue mixing to incorporate it.
- pour the filling on top of the crust in the springform pan and smooth the top.
- wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, then place the pan into a large roasting pan. pour very hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes about halfway up the springform.
- place the roasting pan in the oven and let it bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cake is set at the edges but still jiggly in the center.
- put the entire roasting pan, water and all, onto a wire rack to cool. let it cool that way for an hour, then transfer the cake (without the water and foil), loosely covered, to the fridge. let it chill for at least 4 hours before cutting into it.