Recipe summary

Hands-on time:
25 mins. to 35 mins.
Baking time:
1 hrs 25 mins. to 1 hrs 35 mins.
Total time:
1 hrs 50 mins. to 2 hrs 10 mins.
Yield:
one tall 9" cheesecake, about 16 servings
"This is the best cheesecake I've ever eaten" was the response of the first three taste-testers who sampled this cake; and it's gone on to garner similar responses everywhere it's served. A towering, rich cheesecake, it's made with a unique vanilla cake crust, the idea for which was pioneered by Junior's Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, self-proclaimed creator of the "World's Most Fabulous cheesecake" — and they might just be right. Our thanks to Junior's for the cheesecake recipe that inspired this one.
Volume Ounces Grams

Crust

  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend*
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • *If you don't have cake flour, use unbleached all-purpose flour, reducing the amount to 7 tablespoons (1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon).

Filling

  • 2 pounds cream cheese (four 8-ounce packages), at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

Directions

  1. 1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9" round springform pan or deep 9" round removable-bottom pan. This cake is very tall, and requires an extra-deep pan. Measure your pan; if it's not at least 2 3/4" deep, don't attempt this recipe. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil, preferably a single sheet.
  2. 2) To make the crust: Place the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, salt, vegetable oil or butter, and 3 egg yolks into a large mixing bowl. Beat until well combined; the mixture will be stiff and somewhat crumbly.
  3. 3) In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they're frothy. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar gradually, beating all the while, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  4. 4) Working in thirds, mix the beaten egg whites into the batter. Take care to keep the batter light; mix gently, don't beat. You may find at the end there are still some tiny lumps in the batter; that's OK. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. 5) Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cake has risen, is barely beginning to brown, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. 6) Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a table knife or thin spatula. Allow it to cool in the pan while you make the filling. It'll settle and shrink a bit as it cools; that's OK. Leave the oven on.
  7. 7) To make the filling: Place 8 ounces (1 package) of the room-temperature cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until smooth.
  8. 8) Add the remaining cream cheese, 8 ounces (1 package) at a time, beating on low speed until smooth.
  9. 9) Slowly beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, and the vanilla.
  10. 10) Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  11. 11) Add the cream, beating just until blended.
  12. 12) Spoon the batter over the cake in the pan. The filling will expand and rise, so make sure you don't fill the pan right to the brim.
  13. 13) Place the pan into a larger pan, and fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come 1" up the sides of the springform pan. Place both pans on a lower-middle rack of your oven.
  14. 14) Bake the cheesecake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the cake is just barely beginning to turn golden around the edges, and the top appears set. The center will still look jiggly; that's OK. A thermometer inserted into the center should register about 160F to 165F.
  15. 15) Remove the cake from the oven, and gently lift it out of the water bath onto a rack. Allow it to cool at room temperature, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 hours, until it's no longer warm to the touch.
  16. 16) Refrigerate the cake, covered, until you're ready to serve it.
  17. 17) To serve, slice with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry. Repeat this step after every slice. This cake is traditionally served without topping; but feel free to add your own favorite, if desired.
  18. Yield: 1 large cheesecake, about 16 rich servings.

Tips from our bakers

  • Want to make easy-to-serve cheesecake squares, rather than a traditional round cheesecake? Use your favorite graham cracker crust recipe; we like this one from our Chocolate Icebox Pie. Press the crust into the bottom of a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan, and bake it for about 10 minutes in a preheated 350F oven, or until it's barely starting to brown. Prepare the filling, and pour it over the crust. Bake as directed above, reducing the time to about 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is set. If you have a digital thermometer, the filling should register at least 160F at the center of the pan. Remove the pan from the oven, and cool, chill, and serve the squares. Yield: about 2 dozen squares.