Creamy Water-Bath Cheesecake

This simple cheesecake recipe comes from the 75th anniversary edition of “Joy of Cooking”, one of the most influential American cookbooks.

It is a perfect beginners cheesecake because of the water-bath baking technique. This allows for a gradual baking that allows for a large window of success. The sign of a well baked cheesecake is the abscence of a crack on the top which this technique will allow for. Because of the water bath it produces a more creamy, moist cheesecake in contrast to a New York Style Cheesecake which is dense and almost dry.

The other facet of this being a beginners cheesecake is the oppurtunity for some improvisation. It’s a simple recipe that produces a “blank slate”. From this recipe you could start to substitue different zests in for the lemon, come up with different seasonally spiced crusts, various fruit toppings, addition of liquers with a cutback on the vanilla extract.

Things I have tried:

  • Pumpkin spice in the crust during fall months
  • Creamy caramelzied apples on top
  • Instead of 2 tsp of vanilla, I’ve tried 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp baileys
  • Vanilla wafer crust with raspberry desert sauce
  • Use chocolate cookies for a crust for a chocolate base.


  • Sift your sugar to remove lumps
  • Get full fat sour cream
  • Potentionally chill your graham cracker crust for 30 minutes before the adding of the cheesecake mixture to achieve a defined separation between the layers
  • DO NOT remove the cheesecake immediately from the oven!
  • ACTUALLY use a wooden spoon, not your ovens ajar position on it’s hinge which maybe too large of a gap. You want as gradual of a temperature decline as possible.

Tools: Electric mixer, springform pan, large roasting pan, oven.


  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

  • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce packages) cream cheese

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar (sifted)

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup heavy ream

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • Double wide heavy duty aluminum foil


  • Hvae all ingredients at room temperature, ~70°F, and preheat oven to 325°F.

  • Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1 tbsp of unsalted butter.

  • Sprinkle buttered springform pan with 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs. Tilt and tap the pan to spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides.

  • Beat cream cheese in a large bowl just until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters well.

  • Gradually add and beat in 1 1/3 cups sugar until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Beat in 4 eggs one at a time just until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl and the heaters after each addition.

  • Add and beat on low speed just until mixed; heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla, and grated lemon zest.

  • Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

  • Set the pan on a length of wide heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold the foil carefully up against the sides of the pan without tearing it. Set the pain in a large baking dish or roasting pan.

  • Set the baking dish. in the oven and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

  • Bake until the edges of the cheesecake look set but the center jiggles slightly when the pan is tapped, 55 to 60 mintes. Turn off the oven, prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon.

  • Let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.

  • Remove cheesecake to a rack and let the cool completely in the pan before unmolding.

  • Cover and refrigerate for atleast 6 hours, preferably 24 hours, before serving.