Lemony Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

Apr 16, 2013
Photo courtesy of The-Baker-Chick

Photo courtesy of The-Baker-Chick

An oldie but a family-and-friend favorite, thanks to Molly Ringwald who shared this recipe with my mother when my sisters and I were all young’uns.

As a pre-teen, and once I operated confidently around the kitchen, I commandeered this dessert, making it for holidays and special events.

An aside: In my mid-20s, I spent half a year in New Zealand and my “rent” for staying months with my friends or for leaving behind half my gear while I went hitchhiking around the country was to make this cheesecake. I remember countless trips down the hill and past the little cove where we sunbathed to reach the market in St. Heliers, west of Auckland, to snap up ingredients and make one more, just one more, but never the last, cheesecake for dear, generous, accommodating, welcoming, hilarious, lovely Mark and Sandy Cooper. 

Over the intervening decades, the recipe below became known in my family and to my friend’s as “Kat’s Cheesecake,” which, of course, is a misnomer as it can be found online quickly and easily under different names and attributed to many different persons. I happily relinguish my childhood claim—after this one last time. 

Kat’s Cheesecake Recipe

Crust: 450ºF
1½ cups graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
½ melted butter

Crush graham crackers, most easily with a rolling pin, though the crumbs don’t need to be too fine. Put into bowl and add sugar and melted butter. Mix well, until completely moist. Place approximately 1/2 cup into a 9-inch round pan with straight sides. Carefully—but firmly—press the mixture up against the walls of the pan, about 1/8 inch thick. Add more graham cracker mixture to the pan, as necessary, until bottom of pan and sides (does a round pan have “sides”?) are covered and pressed into position.

Cook a mere 3 minutes.

Put on rack to cool. Be careful when handling, especially if using disposable tins, as crust can crack and crumble at this point. (You don’t need to tiptoe, just be gentle)

Filling: 375ºF
12 ounces of cream cheese—no lowfat or nonfat! Well, we wouldn’t recommend it.
½ cup sugar
3 eggs, close to room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla
juice of one lemon—Meyer lemons are brilliant in this; juice from an orange works as well.

It’s easiest if cream cheese is close to room temperature, and eggs should be closer to room temp than fridge temp. Mix all ingredients together with electric mixer, usually about 2-3 minutes. Filling does not have to be completely smooth; small clumps of cream cheese will melt while cooking. Pour filling over graham cracker crust and cook 20-25 minutes—until when pan is jostled back and forth the middle of the filling doesn’t slosh, only solidly jiggles.

Place on rack to cool.

Topping: 475ºF

1 pint (2 cups) sour cream—no lowfat or nonfat! Well, (again), we wouldn’t recommend it.
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix ingredients together. Mix a bit more just to make sure vanilla and sugar are fully integrated. Carefully spoon on top of cream cheese filling, starting in the middle and using the back of the spoon to spread it out towards the edges.

Cook for 5 minutes only.

Cool on rack for 20 minutes. Refrigerate until fully set and chilled, approximately 4-6 hours.

Cheesecake can be served plain or decorated with strawberries, kiwis, blackberries, or whatever you think would taste good with the lemon or orange flavor of the filling and the sweet tartness of the sour cream topping.

Note: the photo above is “borrowed” from a site that has a similar recipe. I apologize, but I haven’t had the time to bake a cheesecake, wait for it to set and chill, cut out a slice, and then photograph it. The graham cracker crust of my recipe goes right up to the very edge, holding in the sour cream topping, and the cream cheese filling is smoother, more moist, and silkier.

Do you have a favorite cheesecake recipe?

Feel like sharing?

Pretty please…





Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena