Skip to Content

Mom’s Cheesecake

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

Mom's Cheesecake recipe is for an old-fashioned one that is dense, rich, and has a thin pastry crust. Serve it plain or with your favorite topping.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 7 hours 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 8 hours
Author Renee


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:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Remove side of the pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Sprinkle vanilla over the mixture.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Assemble pan after the bottom crust has cooled completely.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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:

  1. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add cream and stir or blend to combine.
  4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
  5. Wrap heavy duty aluminum foil around the sides and bottom of the pan (2 layers to be safe).
  6. Place the foil-wrapped springform pan into a larger deep baking pan (at least 2 to 3 inches deep) that it fits into easily.
  7. 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.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour.
  10. Lift foil wrapped pan out of the water bath and place on a rack.
  11. Carefully lift the pan with water out of the oven and discard water.
  12. Cool cheesecake completely to room temperature, about 2 hours.
  13. Chill cheesecake thoroughly, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  14. Remove foil and side of pan before serving.

Recipe Notes

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

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

Baked Cheesecakes:

No Bake Cheesecakes:

Cheesecake Beverages:

Cheesecake Cookies, Brownies, and Bars:

Cheesecake Desserts and Treats:

Frozen Cheesecakes and Treats:

Recipe Rating

Lisa @ Wine & Glue

Thursday 7th of August 2014

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


Saturday 9th of August 2014

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

holly waterfall

Wednesday 6th of August 2014

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!


Saturday 9th of August 2014

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


Monday 4th of August 2014

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!


Saturday 9th of August 2014

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


Friday 1st of August 2014

Your mom rocks!!!!


Saturday 2nd of August 2014

She sure does! Thanks Shaina

Alice // Hip Foodie Mom

Thursday 31st of July 2014

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!!!


Saturday 2nd of August 2014

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.