Mom’s Cheesecake

by Renee on July 30, 2014

Mom's Cheesecake | Magnolia Days

Cheesecakes can be tricky. This is something I know all too well after the last few days. I admit I do not bake them often. The few I’ve baked in the last few years have turned our marvelously. So I can only say I’ve learned a few things working through the disasters. But first, let’s start from the beginning. It’s National Cheesecake Day and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share my Mom’s Cheesecake recipe.

A little history on mom’s cheesecake: My mom has made this cheesecake for as long as I can remember. It is the one I use as the benchmark for all cheesecakes. It has a thin pastry crust and the cake is dense with a hint of citrus. It is one of two cheesecakes my mom makes. She refers to this one as “The Clunky One”. Why? Because her other one is whipped and lighter in texture. This cheesecake always cracked. It is those cracks that led me to my first disaster.

I’ve heard to bake cheesecakes in a water bath to reduce or eliminate cracks. My mom never baked hers in a water bath. So here I go thinking I’m going to do this water bath thing and have it not crack. All was going well until I opened the oven door to find it sitting in a pool of bubbling water. There was a hole in the foil and water leaked through. The result was a total soggy bottom and a crust that would squish when I touched it.

The next cheesecake went in the oven without a water bath. I decided to bake it just like my mom did for so many years. I looked in the oven as it was baking and oh did it ever have some cracks. They were not little ones. They were Grand Canyon cracks. The top and crust were browning way too much. I hoped it would work out in the end. I took it out of the oven, left the house, and came home to find it sank like I’ve never seen before. You can imagine my frustration at this point.

Cheesecake Disasters | Magnolia Days

Off to the store I went to get supplies for a third cheesecake. I also got a new springform pan made of aluminum and without a dark finish. Then the big decision came, bake in a water bath or not. I decided to go with the water bath and use two layers of foil. The cheesecake finished perfectly without cracking or sinking. The crust didn’t brown as much as I would like however the texture of it and the cake came out exactly as it should. Whew!

Mom's Cheesecake | Magnolia Days

More about my mom’s cheesecake: The crust is what really makes this cake unique. It’s very thin and it is not easy to make. I repeat: not easy to make. I used one of my husband’s roller tools to get it rolled out to the edge of the pan bottom because the bottom has a lip on it and a regular rolling pin would not work right. You have to roll out the side in three strips between wax or parchment paper. You absolutely must measure the length of those strips. The dough must be rolled out to 9 inches (or perhaps 1/4-inch more). Chill the strips before trying to put them in the pan. Peel off one side of the paper, put it back, flip it over, and peel off the other side. Then lift the strip delicately and get it to the side of the pan as quickly as possible. I think it would be a miracle to get the strips to the pan without at least one of them breaking. It’s okay though. All you have to do is press the edges together.

Mom's Cheesecake | Magnolia Days

Was all that effort worth it? Sure it was! I can laugh at the disasters while I’m enjoying a slice. Mom’s cheesecake is my favorite one of all. I’ve shared a couple others; Chocolate Covered Cherry Cheesecake and Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. Scroll down to find a great big list of recipes by wonderful bloggers celebrating National Cheesecake Day. Special thanks to Roxana of Roxana’s Home Baking for putting together this tasty event. Oh, and what did I do with the two disaster cakes? Stay tuned to find out…

Mom’s Cheesecake

8 hours

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Mom’s Cheesecake

    For the crust:
  • 1 cup sifted bleached all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • For the filling:
  • 24 ounces cream cheese (not whipped), at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (at room temperature)
  • Very hot water (for baking cheesecake in a water bath)
For the crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Remove side of the pan.

Whisk together flour, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Sprinkle vanilla over the mixture.

Make a well in the center and add egg yolk and butter. Use a fork to cut in the butter and yolk until it is combined and crumbly.

Form 1/2 of the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball on the pan bottom. Cover with wax or parchment paper. Roll dough out to the edge (it will be very thin).

Bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Assemble pan after the bottom crust has cooled completely.

Divide the remaining dough into 3 equal parts, pressing each one together into a log. Cut 6 strips of wax or parchment paper 3 inches wide.

Place each dough log between 2 strips of the paper. Roll out each dough log to 2 1/4 inches wide by 9 inches long (it will be very thin). The length is important so measure to be accurate. The width should be 2 inches at a minimum. Chill the strips for at least 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough strips to the sides of the pan. It is best to pull off the top paper, lay it back on top, flip it over, and pull off the other paper. If the strips break (which they probably will), press them back together once in the pan.

For the filling:

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

Blend together cream cheese, sugar, flour, sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, using a hand mixer at medium speed.

Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add cream and stir or blend to combine.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Wrap heavy duty aluminum foil around the sides and bottom of the pan (2 layers to be safe).

Place the foil-wrapped springform pan into a larger deep baking pan (at least 2 to 3 inches deep) that it fits into easily.

Place both pans in the oven. Pour hot water into the large pan so that is about halfway up, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour.

Lift foil wrapped pan out of the water bath and place on a rack.

Carefully lift the pan with water out of the oven and discard water.

Cool cheesecake completely to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Chill cheesecake thoroughly, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove foil and side of pan before serving.

Notes

Time stated includes cooling and chilling after baking. Hands-on and baking time is about 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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Do you enjoy cheesecake? Check out these recipes for everything from traditional to new twists, from beverages to ice cream, and more:

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee - Kudos Kitchen July 30, 2014 at 8:24 am

Looks like the third time is definitely the charm! Lovely cheesecake, Renee!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Thanks Renee

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Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking July 30, 2014 at 8:43 am

At first I thought your cheesecake is crustless. You’re right! The crust is so thin I believe it’s a lot of work but the final result looks incredible! No wonder your mom made it so many time.
Thanks for joining us Renee (and for organizing the list)

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Thanks Roxana for both your kind words and including me in on this fun and tasty celebration.

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Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies July 30, 2014 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the tips! I think I need to get a springform pan now. ;)

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Yes! You do need a springform pan. Just be sure not to get a cheap dark colored one. Get a good one with a light finish.

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Aimee @ ShugarySweets July 30, 2014 at 10:38 am

LOVE that you shared the fails!! Your final cheesecake is gorgeous :)

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Thank you Aimee and I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the fails too. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t show what really happened.

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Tara July 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm

So glad you persevered, the end result is magnificent!!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Thanks a bunch Tara.

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Julie July 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

The final cheesecake looks like it was well worth the first two failures!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm

It sure was worth it Julie. Thanks.

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Liz July 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Oh, my goodness, Renee! I knew about your first fiasco, but you were are a trooper to make two more attempts. It definitely looks worth the effort!!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Thanks Liz

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Heather @ French Press July 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

third time is definitely the charm! it looks prefect

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Thanks Heather

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Carla July 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I don’t think I’ve seen a cheesecake with a crust like this before. Glad you kept trying and got it perfect! Cheesecakes are so finicky (but at least the leftovers still taste good, right?)

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I was wondering if you had ever seen a crust like this since you make so many different cheesecakes. Glad I could introduce you to a different one.

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Stacy July 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Thank goodness you are so organized, Renee, and had time to try and try again. That last cheesecake is perfection and I love the fresh fruit piled all over it.

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Thanks Stacy. I had to make time for the attempts but it was worth it. So very worth it.

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Thalia @ butter and brioche July 30, 2014 at 6:39 pm

this is a seriously good looking cheesecake, love the idea of the crust. definitely saving this recipe to trial in my kitchen.. hopefully mine turns out just as perfect!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I hope it turns out well for you too. Thanks for saving it to try one day.

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Cate @ Chez CateyLou July 30, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Thank you for showing us the disasters – it is so great to see that I’m not alone in my baking failures! And your final product turned out so well – it looks perfect! Pinning! Happy Cheesecake Day!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I think it is important to share disasters because it is how we learn what causes them. Glad you enjoyed them and the successful one too.

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Nancy @ gottagetbaked July 30, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Renee, I loved this post so much. I was totally sympathizing with you on the Facebook wall when you were telling us about the disastrous water bath (mine leaks all the time and it drives me nuts, no matter how many layers of foil I wrap my pan in). The two photos of the disasters shows how incredibly varied the results with be given what materials and techniques we use. Thank goodness you persevered because the final cheesecake is a masterpiece. It’s gorgeous! That thin buttery crust, that perfect rich, dense texture of the cheesecake. Lovely job recreating your mom’s cheesecake, my friend!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Thank you so very much Nancy.

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DB-The Foodie Stuntman @ Crazy Foodie Stunts July 30, 2014 at 7:54 pm

What’s that old adage? Third time’s a charm! Glad you persevered.

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Thanks DB

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Anita at Hungry Couple July 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Really beautiful, Renee! Oh, and I hear you about the crust not being easy. Mine is a thick crust but there’s no easy way to do it. My mother’s signature cheesecake was a no-bake. Smart woman, no? :)

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Yes, smart woman to have a no-bake cheesecake. I think that is what the other one my mom makes is too. I need to look into that recipe more and post it one day.

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Susan July 31, 2014 at 10:26 am

You were definitely determined to share this cake and I’m glad you did! It looks delicious and thank you! Now you can share it with you mom and let her know it is possible to make it without cracks and be beautiful!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thanks Susan. I was definitely determined. I wanted a success with this cheesecake so much and glad I stuck with it.

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Alice // Hip Foodie Mom July 31, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Renee, your mom’s cheesecake looks fabulous. . and third time’s always a charm right?! :) good thinking on the double foil. . my first water bath was a disaster too!! love this cheesecake!!!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Yep, the third time is the charm. I just hope I won’t have many more first and second failures to deal with in the future.

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Shaina August 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Your mom rocks!!!!

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Renee August 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

She sure does! Thanks Shaina

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Ala August 4, 2014 at 12:35 am

Oh, I love that you documented this! And while I’m sorry for the “fails,” it looks totally worth the effort. It’s awesome that your mom has recipes to pass onto you! Love it!

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Renee August 9, 2014 at 9:29 am

I’m fortunate that my mom typed up all her favorite recipes and gave them to me. I love sharing them here too.

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holly waterfall August 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm

wow you are so patient to have tried many times! I on the other hand, anticipated the fail and just made a martini to save the trouble :)
I do want to try it out myself though, so I’m pinning for later!

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Renee August 9, 2014 at 9:18 am

This was very important to me to keep trying. I did have a martini between batches though. Thanks for the pin.

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Lisa @ Wine & Glue August 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I also had two failures! Glad you kept going!! It looks delicious, and absolutely perfect! Pinned!

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Renee August 9, 2014 at 9:17 am

Oh thank goodness I wasn’t the only one with cheesecake failures. Glad you kept going too.

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