Classic Lemon Cheesecake




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Classic Lemon Cheesecake topped with fresh berries and edible flowers

Classic Lemon Cheesecake is a special occasion dessert easy enough for any day.  This New York Style cheesecake is equally fabulous plain, or decorated with fresh berries and edible flowers.  

Lemon Cheesecake topped with fruit

Like any native New Yorker worth her salt, I know a good cheesecake when I taste it.  

It’s been too long since I’ve made, or even had a bite of cheesecake and this one brought it all flooding back to me…why I love it, and why a great piece of cheesecake is one of life’s great pleasures.  This one has the PERFECT texture, a zingy lemon flavor, and is all decked out for summer ~ what more could you want from dessert?

Lemon cheesecake topped with berries and edible flowers

Cheesecake has a reputation for being difficult and time consuming to make, and I’ve fallen for that myth over the years.  But every time I actually set out to make one, I’m always surprised by how quick and easy it actually is.  And man-oh-man this lemon cheesecake is so worth it.

A slice of lemon cheesecake with fork

The bright lemon flavor of this cheesecake begs for something a little more special than an ordinary graham cracker crust….

so it’s gingersnaps to the rescue!  I’ve used gingersnaps in crumb crusts a lot, most notably in my now famous Cranberry Gingersnap Pie, but also in my No Bake Lemon Crunch Bars.  Gingersnaps have such an intense spicy flavor that really perks up an otherwise bland crust.  Just look at that zippy color ~ you just know it’s going to taste good.

Crushing ginbersnap cookies into crumbs

It’s just as easy to substitute more flavorful cookies when making a crumb crust, so why not?  Ginger and lemon is a time honored combination that has so many varied applications, from therapeutic tea to delicious desserts.  Use any gingersnap cookie you can find at your store, the thin or thick ones will work.  

Making a gingersnap crumb crust

So we’ve established that this lemon cheesecake is delicious, but nobody is claiming it’s a light dessert.  

You’re gonna need 2 lbs (that’s 2 POUNDS) of cream cheese.  You’ll want regular cream cheese, not whipped, and while you can use light cream cheese, don’t try to use the fat free stuff.  And don’t worry, you won’t be eating the whole cake by yourself…theoretically ;)

cream cheese for a lemon cheesecake filling

The secret to making great cheesecake is just 2 words…room temperature!

That’s right, it’s as simple as that.  Get this right and the rest is a breeze.

Have your ingredients, aka cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs, at room temperature.  Leave them out overnight if you have to.

Room temperature ingredients blend seamlessly into a smooth, creamy dessert.

Pouring lemon cheesecake filling into the gingersnap crust

Why I add flour to my cheesecake batter ~

  • The little bit of flour is the key to the perfect New York Style texture in this cheesecake.  It results in a slightly cake-ier consistency.  It’s still plenty creamy, but with an added fluffiness that takes it from good to awesome.   Ask any New Yorker ;)

A classic lemon cheesecake out of the oven, cooling

How to prevent your cheesecake from cracking ~

Everybody seems to want a smooth surface on their cheesecake, and there are a few things you can do to help ensure this…

  • Don’t over beat your batter, just mix to combine thoroughly.
  • Don’t over cook your cheesecake, when it’s done it will still be wobbly in the center.
  • Turn off the oven and let your cheesecake cool right there with the door propped open a bit.  The slow cooling helps prevent cracking.

If your cheesecake cracks, no worries!

Cracks happen.  I’ve never understood why people have an issue with their cheesecakes cracking.  I don’t find it a problem at all, in fact I think it looks tempting.  In any event it’s super easy to cover the crack with any number of topping ideas, see below for a list of suggestions.

Fresh summer berries

How to top your lemon cheesecake ~

  • You can serve this lemon cheesecake plain, just slice and serve.  No apologies necessary, it’s fabulous, and honestly, it’s my favorite way to serve it.
  • You can top it with a simple sour cream or yogurt layer, just thin down sour cream or full fat yogurt with a little cream and spread it out evenly.  You can also just add a dollop of whipped cream or whipped yogurt to each slice.
  • Spread a layer of lemon curd over the top.
  • If they’re in season, top with fresh raw berries, either one variety like raspberries, or a mixture.
  • Cook down berries with a little sugar to make a sauce to spoon over each slice as you serve.  Frozen berries will work, and wild blueberries are an amazing choice.  I love it with my super quick fresh raspberry sauce.

A slice of lemon cheesecake topped with whipped yogurt

So there you have it, but all the chit chat and photos in the world can’t convey my main message ~ this is a delicious reliable cheesecake recipe, and you need to give it a try.

Lemon Cheesecake
Rate this recipe
20 ratings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Category: dessert

Cuisine: American

Yield: serves 10

Classic Lemon Cheesecake topped with fresh berries and edible flowers

Classic Lemon Cheesecake is a special occasion dessert easy enough for any day.  This New York Style cheesecake is equally fabulous plain, or decorated with fresh berries and edible flowers.  

Ingredients

    gingersnap crust
  • 1 and 1/2 cups or 220 grams gingersnap crumbs (process gingersnaps in a food processor until finely ground)
  • 1/2 cup or 42 grams brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp or 57 grams unsalted butter, melted
    cheesecake
  • 4 8-ounce packages regular (not whipped) cream cheese, 900 grams, at room temperature
  • 1 cup or 215 grams granulated sugar
  • zest peeled from 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp or 20 grams all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup or 120 grams sour cream
  • 1/4 cup or 58 grams fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
    garnish
  • fresh berries
  • mint leaves
  • edible flowers

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F Line a 9 inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. You can also line the sides with strips of paper if you like, that's optional. Tip: lightly spray or butter the pan so the paper stays put.
  2. Mix together the gingersnap crumbs and sugar, making sure to get out any lumps from the brown sugar. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are evenly saturated. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan, going up the sides about an inch.
  3. Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Put the sugar in a food processor and process with the zest until the sugar is pale yellow and all the zest is incorporated. This will take under a minute.
  5. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour together until well combined. I do this in a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk.
  6. Beat in the sour cream and lemon juice, and then the eggs, one at a time, beating in between each addition. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl often to get everything well incorporated.
  7. Turn the batter into the pan and spread out evenly. To guard against any potential leakage, you can wrap the bottom of the pan with foil, or set the pan on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake for about 55 minutes, or just until the outside is set and the inside still wobbles. Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour with the door propped open.
  9. Cool the pan on a rack until room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
  10. Remove cheesecake from pan, and decorate with fresh berries, mint, and flowers.

Notes

The secret to making great cheesecake is just 2 words...room temperature!

That's right, it's as simple as that.  Get this right and the rest is a breeze.

Have your ingredients, aka cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs, at room temperature.  Leave them out overnight if you have to.

Room temperature ingredients blend seamlessly into a smooth, creamy dessert.

Make this classic lemon cheesecake your own ~

  • Use regular graham cracker crumbs for the crust, or any other cookie crumbs you like.  Chocolatey Nabisco Famous Wafers or Nilla Wafers would be nice, too.
  • If you only have a 10 inch pan you can use it, just be aware that the cooking time will be shorter. 
  • You can get the same topping effect using just one of the berry varieties that I used.  If using strawberries look for small ones, and slice some of them in half for a nice visual touch.

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16 Comments

    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Heidi Wolff
    July 22, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Do you think a gluten free flour would work in place of the all purpose flour?

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      I don’t see why not, there is such a little amount, it should be fine.

  • Reply
    Elaine M Smith
    July 21, 2019 at 10:00 am

    This made a fabulous cheesecake!! I had some red wine blueberry jam in the frig that I had made a few weeks ago- warmed it up in the microwave and drizzled it over!!! it was awesome!! Thanks !

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 21, 2019 at 11:55 am

      Woa, did you say red wine blueberry jam? That sounds perfect for this cheesecake :)

  • Reply
    sheenam @ thetwincookingproject
    July 21, 2019 at 9:06 am

    oh my my, this looks so so creamy!!!! i love a good lemon cheesecake, i am totally trying your recipe.pinning this right away :D

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 21, 2019 at 9:45 am

      You won’t be disappointed with this one!

  • Reply
    Dee
    July 20, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Love, love, love your photography; please include the picture for the printing of the recipe. Also, lemon is such a wonderful flavor, right? Plan to make this cheesecake soon. I have found a silicone springform pan protector that is awesome for cheesecakes – http://www.easybathcheesecakewrap.com. I bought one for myself and they are wonderful; plus make nice gifts, too.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 20, 2019 at 8:05 pm

      Love the silicone protector Dee, I’ll look that up. As for the pic in the recipe, I’ve had complaints from people who don’t want to waste ink on the photo, so it’s hard to please everybody!

  • Reply
    David
    July 20, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Hi Sue, I hope to try this recipe soon! Do you ever used a water bath for your cheesecake? The extra moisture should eliminate any cracking. I place my 9″ springform pan inside a 10″ layer cake pan. Then I place the 10″ pan in large aluminum roasting pan. Carefully pour water in the roasting pan until halfway up the side the layer cake pan. Plus the layer cake pan prevents any possible leakage of water into the bottom of the of the cheesecake. Hope this makes sense! Please keep sharing your wonderful recipes!

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 20, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Thanks David, I try to avoid extra steps whenever possible so I don’t usually use water baths. This cake is so great because it doesn’t crack even without that extra effort. I love your layer cake pan tip, though ~ definitely using that next time I do water bath a cake.

  • Reply
    Nikki Moranville
    July 20, 2019 at 5:43 am

    I can’t wait to try this one! I am so happy that you give us grams as well in the ingredients section. I am in France half the year and I love having your recipes! Thank you so much! We have no printer at the moment because it dies – so I have to copy and paste some of your recipes. I have never been disappointed in anything from TVFGI.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 20, 2019 at 7:56 am

      I’m really trying to include the weights as much as I can, glad it helps Nikki :)

  • Reply
    2pots2cook
    July 19, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Have seen your announcement on Instagram …… was worth of waiting Sue ! Definitely !

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 19, 2019 at 7:44 am

      Enjoy, it’s a goodie!!

  • Reply
    Tricia B
    July 19, 2019 at 4:52 am

    I can taste it now Sue! Cheesecake is one of my all-time favorite desserts. It’s been ages since I had a slice, guess I’ll have to get in the kitchen and whip up this beauty! PINNED!

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 19, 2019 at 6:41 am

      This has renewed my passion for cheesecake, it’s been too long for me too!