Classic Cheesecake

Use citrus zests to give this baked cheesecake tartness and a depth of flavour.

  • Preparation Time15 mins
  • Cooking Time70 mins
  • Serves8
  • DifficultyMedium

For the filling

900g cream cheese, at room temperature
450g caster sugar, divided
250ml sour cream, divided
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vanilla paste or essence, divided
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp finely grated orange zest

For the crust

85g unsalted butter
150g graham cracker crumbs, can substitute digestive biscuit crumbs
25g sugar
Pinch fine salt
Berries, optional
For the filling:
1) Beat the cream cheese on medium speed with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add 280g sugar and beat just until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Slowly beat in 195ml sour cream, then eggs, 1 tbsp vanilla and both citrus zests; take care not to over whip. Pour into the cooled crust.

For the crust:
1) Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 160C/Gas 3. Melt the butter, covered in the microwave, in a medium microwave safe bowl, or a saucepan. Brush a 23cm springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pan, taking care to get the crust evenly into the edges. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 mins. Cool. Wrap the bottom and up the sides of the pan with foil and put in a roasting pan.

2) Bring a medium saucepan or kettle of water to a boil. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don't pull the rack out of the oven). Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hr and 10 mins - the outside of the cake will set but the center will still be loose.

3) Meanwhile, stir together the remaining sour cream, sugar and vanilla paste. Spread over the top of the cooked cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 mins. Turn the oven off, cook the cheesecake in the residual heat in the oven for 1 hr. This gentle finish minimizes the risk of the dreaded crack in your cheese cake.

4) Remove cheesecake from the roasting pan to a rack. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hrs or overnight.

5) Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 mins before serving. Remove the springform ring. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece. Serve with berries, if desired.

Shopsmart: We love vanilla bean paste. It has intense vanilla bean flavour in a convenient paste form. It's a great way to add great flavour and distinctive vanilla flecks without having to use a whole bean.

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