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Close-up of cheesecake square on white plate, fork digging into it, berry topping

Easy Baked Cheesecake

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooling + refrigeration time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 65 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8-12 servings 1x
  • Category: Cheesecakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The easiest, creamiest and best baked cheesecake I ever tried! And I've tried many. You can customize the crust and the topping, make it round and tall or rectangular and short for cheesecake bars. It's always a crowd pleaser, everybody's favorite. And it freezes beautifully so you can make it ahead.


Ingredients

Scale

For the cookie base:

  • 2 cups (200g) ground chocolate or graham cracker wafers
  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, melted

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 32oz (930g) regular cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup whipping or heavy cream, at room temperature

For the berry topping:


Instructions

For the cookie base:

  1. Preheat oven at 350°F /180°C.
  2. Spray or butter an 8x11 inches (20x27cm) rectangular pan or a 9-inch round cake pan with removable bottom. If you want to line the pans: for the rectangular one, line with a piece of parchment paper that covers the bottom and up the two long sides of the pan. You will have two short sides without paper. For the round pan, release the sides and cover the bottom part with a large piece of aluminum foil. Press so it covers the bottom and sides, making sure it doesn't tear. Put the round part on top, over the foil and close it. It will compress the foil. Grab the excess paper and bring it up so it sticks to the sides. Both of these methods makes it easier to remove the cheesecakes when they are cold; you lift the paper and take out the cheesecake.
  3. Grind cookies in the food processor, add the melted butter and mix until the mixture looks like wet sand. Or add already crushed cookies to the bowl with the melted butter and mix with a spoon.
  4. Put this mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly onto the bottom.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
  6. Don't turn the oven off.

For the cheese filling:

  1. Mix cream cheese in a large bowl until very smooth. You can use a handheld mixer or wire whisk. If the cheese is at room temperature, mixing them by hand should not be a problem. If using a hand held electric mixer, use it only for this part and at the lowest temperature. We don't want to incorporate air into the batter. 
  2. Gradually add sugar and beat until sugar is very well incorporated.
  3. Add eggs, in 2 additions, mixing until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Be patient and don't be tempted to beat much. 
  4. Add vanilla, sour cream, and cream, stirring to incorporate.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan of choice.
  6. For the rectangular pan:
    Bake
    for 10 minutes at 325°F/165°C, turn the oven down to 275ºF/140*C, and bake for another 35-40 minutes. At this point, the cheesecake should jiggle quite a lot in the center. This can vary depending on your oven. Don't be tempted to bake it longer. It will solidify as it cools. 
    For the round pan
    Bake for 10 minutes at 325°F/165°C, turn the oven down to 300ºF/150*C, and bake for another 50-55 minutes. At this point, the cheesecake should jiggle quite a lot in the center. This can vary depending on your oven and it can take even longer. Don't be tempted to bake it longer. It will solidify as it cools. 
  7. Turn the oven off and, without opening the door, let the cheesecake inside for 1 hour. Remove from oven and carefully run a smooth blade around the top of the sides to loosen up any batter that might've stuck. This will help with it not developing cracks as it cools and shrinks. 
  8. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, wrap in plastic (still in the pan) and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. I highly recommend 1 or 2 days of refrigeration for the creamiest consistency before removing from the pan and eating it.

For the topping:

  1. Put berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over low heat until the juices bubble and are beginning to look syrupy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Take the pan out of the heat and add 2-3 tablespoons jam. Mix well.

To assemble:

  1. Take the cheesecake from the refrigerator.
  2. Lift it aiding yourself with the pieces of parchment paper that overhang from the sides for the rectangular pan. For the round pan, bring down the foil that is sticking to the pan, open the side circle and remove. Lift the foil carefully and placce your hand, palm side up, between the foil and the bottom of the pan. Lift the paper carefully and you will have the cheesecake in your hand. You can also do this with a large spatula but be careful not to tear the paper and the crust. Push down the foil and transfer the cheesecake to the other hand to remove the last part. Be careful as you place it on the serving plate.
  3. Top with the berry topping and serve.

Notes

  • Dessert for a crowd: cheesecake is such a favorite for most people, so bake this recipe in a rectangular pan (the cake will not be as tall), and then you can cut it in smaller squares and feed many more guests. If you do two cheesecakes you can serve dessert to 24 persons or something. It depends on the size of the servings.
  • Cookies: use any type of plain wafers, chocolate or vanilla. Or alternatively, use a traditional graham cracker crust which you can also buy probably and save yourself a step. 
  • Ingredients: all filling ingredients must be at room temperature. It’s the way you ensure they all mix well without beating the batter. This is so important and part of how you achieve a creamy consistency.
  • Creaminess: besides the ingredients, make sure you bake it in a medium/low oven, turn it off while the cheesecake still jiggles a lot, and leave it at least 24 hours in the fridge. I suggest for 2 days. I find the texture is superior. 
    Cheesecake batter: the key is not beating it so that we don't incorporate air. If the ingredients are at room temperature, you should have no problem. What I do is use that as my way of knowing if they're at the right temperature: if I'm not able to easily mix the batter with a hand whisk is because the ingredients have not softened enough.
    Oven temperature: low is better than medium. I have gone back and forth for years testing this. And even though I might bake it at the standard 350°F/180°C for ten minutes initially, the bulk of the baking is done at 300°F/150°C at the most, sometimes less than that. Similar to baking a flan recipe, the lower temperature ensures that the batter doesn't puff up much. The cheesecake will slightly rise, but not much.
    Cooling process: this is crucial and it consists of 3 parts: letting it cool for a while in the oven after it's turned off; letting it completely cool to room temperature on a wire rack; refrigerating it for at least 8 hours (a whole day is better). I have tested this thoroughly and it renders the creamiest cheesecakes. 
  • Freezing: cheesecakes can be frozen and, in my opinion, many times they are creamier and softer after a stay in the freezer. There’s probably a chemical explanation. But it's just my experience. Let thaw in the fridge overnight and then at room temperature. The slower it defrost, the better the texture. 
  • Topping: Keep in mind the ratio of filling and berry sauce if making sqaures or bars. This is not a very tall cake as it's baked in a rectangular pan, so too much topping will not let the filling shine.

Keywords: baked cheesecake