My dad’s cheesecake is one of his most well-loved bakes and has developed a loyal following from clients and friends. It’s the kind of cake that has one particular customer ordering it for every family occasion or as a gift to his doctor every Christmas, and the kind that makes one of my friends ignore her lactose intolerance just to have a slice.
There have been a few times that I’ve tried cheesecake from other sources and I’ve rarely had ones as good as my dad’s version, or even one that comes close – which is probably why I’ve stopped ordering it whenever I’ve been out. Regardless of what topping (or any at all) you have with this cheesecake, the dense, creamy filling that doesn’t shy away from the full-fat indulgence of cream cheese that sets my dad’s version apart from others.
The recipe looks simple, but don’t get tripped up by a couple things:
- Full fat Philadelphia cream cheese – no substitutes. This is where the rich, cream cheese flavour comes from and let’s be honest, what would cheesecake be if you couldn’t taste a bit of cheese?
- The consistency of Philadelphia cream cheese for consumers differs from commercial use – I didn’t know this until I mentioned to my dad that my cheesecake could never come out as hearty as his. Turns out the ones they sell in the small plastic containers have more moisture in them than the 1kg blocks you can get at Costco. If you can’t get your hands on a block, your best bet is to add in a tbsp or two of flour to your cheesecake mix.
- Less is more – when it comes to mixing the cheesecake mix that is. Overmixing will generate more air in the eggs, making your cheesecake less dense.
My friend Barb was in town when this was made, so shout out to her for helping me with the photoshoot! Rest assured she was compensated with plenty of cheesecake. This version was served up with a bit of homemade blueberry jam/compote hybrid.
Part 1: Crust/Base
You can use graham crackers or an equivalent (Hobnobs, Digestives, etc.,).
125g Unsalted butter, melted
250g Sweet Biscuits, crushed (use graham crackers, Digestives or HobNobs).
Butter for greasing
- Using a 10” round pan, trace on non-stick baking paper and cut out.
- Lightly grease the bottom of the pan and line the base with non-stick baking paper. Set aside.
- Crumble the biscuits, or use a food processor to speed up the process
- Melt butter over low heat and remove once melted and set aside
- Mix sugar with crumb mixture in a medium sized bowl.
- Pour melted butter over crumb mixture and mix well.
- Transfer the mix to your pan and use hands to push crumbs down, or use base of a mug (or something with a flat base) to help compress the crumb mixture to form a base. It should be 1cm thick. Set aside.
Part 2: Cheesecake mixture
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before baking – would recommend taking these out of the fridge at least an hour before you start.
1 kg Philadelphia cream cheese, full fat (no substitutes – it won’t taste the same!)
1 tbsp Vanilla
Zest of half a lemon
300g Whole eggs
120g Full fat milk (3%)
- Pre-heat your oven to 175℃/347℉
- Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth. It helps if the cream cheese is at room temperature
- Mix eggs in slowly, scraping sides as you go along. Mix until just incorporated, otherwise your cheesecake will be more fluffy than rich!
- Add vanilla, lemon zest and milk, mixing slowly.
- Pour mixture into tin with crumb base and double broil bake on a tray for 50 minutes – pour water onto the pan until it reaches 1” high.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- To remove from the pan, use a sharp knife to go around the inside edge of the pan before turning the pan upside down on a plate. Give it a firm shake and a couple of taps on the bottom of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan. Coax the cheesecake out by shaking lightly.
- Once out, turn the cake right-side up again and serve with your topping of choice or eat plain.