~2C graham cracker crumbs (or oreo, if you’re feeling dangerous)
small handful of flour
cinnamon (not for the oreo)
6 tbsp butter
24oz cream cheese (3 packages)
~1 tsp vanilla
20oz Sour Cream
Nonstick springform pan (not necessary, but ideal for a cake you can’t turn out)
“Cheesecake is hard!” “Cheesecake never turns out right!” “People like storebought cheesecake better!”
All of the above statements are flat-out lies (visual proof at the end of the post). C’mon. The cheesecake factory cheesecakes may taste good, but I bet there’s a lot of weird stuff in there. And you don’t get to determine the size of your slice. And you have to go to the Cheesecake Factory instead of your local grocery store. Homemade cheesecake is possible, it is delicious, and, if you put fruit on it, my theory is it can definitely be considered a breakfast food.
Another (abhorrent and, frankly, mystifying to me) lie is that you need an electric mixer to make cheesecake. I am about to expose this falsehood in a way that will (1) make you feel good about yourself, and (2) make everyone around you (except lactose-intolerant people) like you. A lot.
The only really important part of this recipe that will definitely aid your fork-and-bowl method is to soften the cream cheese. Take it out fifteen minutes before you begin, and you’ll be fine.
Note: if you aren’t planning on using a springform pan or simply don’t have one, this cake will rise, so make sure you use a pretty deep (4″ would be ideal) cake pan. This will also make it harder to serve, but will in no way affect the taste.
Step one: Make the crust. Do this by combining all of the dry ingredients listed before the butter in your bowl, and mixing them around with your fork. Any time you see the “approximately” sign (~), it means if you’ve spent a fair amount of time baking, just wing it instead of using a measuring cup. Trust yourself. Melt the butter in the microwave (I know, this requires an extra bowl or cup), and mix in with the dry ingredients. You’ll probably have to use your hands at the end, but that’s OK, because the next part is to form the crust. Spread it as thinly as possible while maintaining a solid layer along the bottom of your springform pan. Use the remaining mixture to press up against the sides of the pan with your fingers. Any attempt I’ve made to make an even-looking crust has failed. It usually looks like this. My advice? Do what I do and pretend it’s on purpose.
Step two: Rinse out your bowl and dry. (Now’s a good time to preheat your oven. Aim for 350F.) Add all the cream cheese and the vanilla (again, eyeball it unless you’re afraid of an extra dash of vanilla). Mix together with your fork—cream cheese shouldn’t be super soft, but enough that mashing is feasible. Now mix in the sugar—I do it half a cup at a time, and I definitely use a measuring cup for this part—and stir it up until it’s fluffier than it was when you started. Takes a couple minutes, make sure it’s mixed in pretty well.
Step three: Add eggs, one at a time. The first egg you add will seem weird, but then it becomes a bit less dough-y and a bit more liquid-y. Mix up really well at this stage. NOTE: I usually have a couple dollops of cream cheese-sugar stuck at the bottom of my bowl that never seem to get fully mixed in. I haven’t noticed an effect on my cakes, but if you’re uptight about those kinds of things, use a spatula to make sure it’s well mixed.
Step four: Add the sour cream. All at once is fine, but the key here is to FOLD it into your batter, not beat it. Once you have a homogenous delicious mixture, pour it into your waiting crust. As I said previously, this cake rises a bit, so don’t worry if the crust is a bit high. Now put in the oven—bake for 35-45 minutes (I go 40, but you hopefully know your oven better than I do). The top will be slightly golden when it’s done, but DON’T take it out yet! Turn the oven off and wedge it barely open with a wooden spoon. This allows the cake to cool slowly and (fingers crossed) not crack on the top. After about an hour, the cake will be ready to take out of the oven. I leave it on the countertop for another hour-ish, and then cover with foil and stick in the fridge.
What you may not know about cheesecake: it is actually recommended to make cheesecake at least 24 hours in advance of serving it, presumably to allow it to settle and meld all the flavors in the fridge.
Update: I’m assuming you want a picture. Everyone wants pictures. The pictures below obviously have a separate, added component to the recipe: namely, caramel sauce with pecans. This can also be made with a fork and a bowl, and a recipe may be forthcoming. This cheesecake was described as “a $50 cheesecake” when I brought it in to work, and it probably only cost about $18 to make, so there you have it: a perfect example of low-risk, high-reward!
The point is, once your cheesecake has cooled, you can put loads of fun toppings on there! I recommend fruit. As in fresh berries or peaches maybe. Not the cornsyrupy kind, because that’s gross, people.