This is the best cheesecake I have ever had. The memories of my Aunt Joan is filled with each bite! One evening in August of 2015, I was going through one of my mom’s old Slovak cookbooks she let me borrow the last time I visited her in New Jersey. I mostly went through the several loose papers with handwritten recipes and notes. I found one with my handwriting for cheesecake.
Cheesecake (in Slovak: tvarohová torta)
The style of printing was the way I used to quickly print notes using a mix of upper and lower case letters in the same word. My handwriting was really poor so certain letters I would capitalize because the lower case letters would resemble that of a different letter or even a number. I figure I was about 19 or 20 years old. Only problem, I never made a cheesecake at the age I had to have written down this recipe.
After reading it line by line it hit me – it hit me! This had to be my Aunt Joan’s cheesecake recipe. She must have dictated it to me. It just had to be her recipe. So I decided to make it and it turned out exactly the way I remembered her making it. You know – the kind you NEED a glass of ice cold milk to wash it down.
She knew how much I loved her cheesecakes and this recipe brought back so many memories. There were a couple of side notes of her comments that I wrote down. The comments were next to a couple of the ingredients that she made sure I would include in the recipe. One comment was for the sugar amount.
Aunt Joan had type 2 diabetes so she adjusted the recipe when she made it for herself or my Uncle George. When she made cheesecake, Aunt Joan would often also bake a 2nd one so when I came over to visit there was a hefty slice and a tall glass of ice-cold glass of milk waiting for me. So for me, she must have wanted to be sure that I wrote down her original recipe the way I always remembered it. I miss Aunt Joan a lot but now I have a recipe of her’s and with each bite of this cheesecake my mind is filled with memories of her.
I hope that you enjoy the making of this cheesecake recipe as much as I remembered eating it when my Aunt Joan made it – with a BIG glass of milk to go with it.
- 1 cup Graham cracker crumbs - coarse to medium fine
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- ¼ cup Butter - melted but not hot
- 2 ½ lbs. Cream Cheese - room temp (but not too soft)
- 1 Pt Sour cream
- 1 ½ cups Sugar
- 3 Lg eggs
- 1 ½ tsp Vanilla extract
- ½ tsp each of lemon and orange zest (optional)
- ¼ lb Butter - melted but not hot
- 2 Tbsp Flour - shifted to breakup chunks
- In a medium sized bowl combine all the dry ingredients.
- Dribble the butter over the top of the crumbs and mix well so that the butter become uniformly distributed.
- Spray the bottom and sides of a spring form pan with vegetable oil or baking spray - you can also line the bottom of the pan with a round piece of parchment cut to fit.
- Add the crumbs to the center of the spring form pan.
- Using a large spoon or the flat bottom of a measuring cup, firmly press the crumbs to distribute an even layer and no more than ¼" to ½" up the sides.
- Set aside in a cool area of your kitchen or an adjacent room to harden. You can also place it in the freezer for about 10-15 mins.
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- In a large mixing bowl, (this is important) combine the cream cheese and sugar
- Blend well together until smooth - a hand mixer on low is perfect for this or you can use a heavy duty wooden spoon - Don't over mix.
- Blend into the cream cheese and sugar base the sour cream, vanilla extract, butter and the (optional) citrus zest.
- Incorporate the flour into the batter a 1/3 at a time.
- Add 1 egg at a time as you blend them into the mixture. You don't need to wait in between to add each egg.
- Mix until all ingredients are smooth and uniform but, again, do not over mix.
- Pour the cake mixture into the chilled spring form pan
- Place the cake pan on a cookie or baking tray with raised sides and put into the pre-heated oven.
- After closing the oven door reduce the temperature to 275°F
- Bake at 275°F for 1½ to 2 hrs or until the middle no longer "jiggles" and top is slightly brown.
- Turned off the oven but DO NOT fully open the door... yet.
- Open the oven door only slightly ajar (cracked open about an inch the most), leaving the cake inside for about 1 to 2 hrs to slowly cool.
- Chill in the fridge for at least a full day (minimum of 12 hrs) or longer.
- Important - the cream cheese and sugar needs to be blended well to remove any clumps before proceeding but do not over mix.
- Over-mixing will incorporate too much air into the batter and will cause cracking.
- Leaving the cheesecake in the oven to cool for the 1-2 hrs will allow the cake to slowly cool which will eliminate or reduce cracking of the cake.
- You can use a kitchen towel or pot-holder to prevent the door from closing thereby allowing the inch opening.to remain.
- To remove bottom of the spring form pan, place a griddle on a stove burner and heat until the griddle is very warm but not hot enough to burn.
- Turn off burner and briefly place cake with the bottom onto the griddle surface for a minute or two to soften the butter.
- Place a plate over the top of the cheesecake and flip the cake over with the plate now as the bottom. Using a flat knife, place between the cheesecake and the spring form pan bottom and slowly and carefully pop the bottom off of the cheesecake.
- Now, with a different plate or serving tray, place this onto the now freed bottom of the cheesecake.
- Flip over together and remove the original plate.
- Your cake is now ready for serving.