Lemon Cheesecake

So does anyone else have a month where everything happens? Birthdays…holidays…anniversaries…anything involving cake and presents and merriment? In my family growing up, March was our crazy month. Now that I have my own family, June is our celebration month–my daughter’s birthday, husband’s birthday, and Father’s Day almost always fall within a week of each other and since I am now officially full-term and could pop out a baby any day (although I really doubt that will happen…my babies are very unmotivated to leave before they are officially evicted by medical professionals), we could throw another celebration into our crazy equation. And this is coming on the heels of Mother’s Day and our anniversary. To make things even weirder, my birthday and my son’s birthday are uncomfortably close to Christmas. And then we have nothing, nothing the rest of the year. Apparently we are gluttons for celebration punishment.

It’s hard to have celebration treat traditions because we get so sick of cake and ice cream that every year, it seems like everyone picks something different for their special day. So we’re always trying something new and fun–ice cream cakes and cheesecakes and pies (although right now, if it were my birthday, what I’d really want is an awesome steak and a big salad…I wish I could have those kinds of cravings all the time).

Since Father’s Day is coming up and since the surest way to ensure my husband’s happiness is through cheesecake, I’m sharing cheesecake. Lemon cheesecake. Light and creamy and not overwhelmingly lemony and pure evil because it tastes like little clouds of heaven, but those clouds probably have 263 calories per forkful. But that’s beside the point.

For the crust, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2/3 of a package of vanilla creme cookies (I used 24 Golden Oreos);

it was about 2 cups of packed cookie crumbs when all was said and done.

To get those 2 cups of cookie crumbs, place the cookies in a food processor

and pulse it until the cookies are crumbs.

If you don’t have a food processor or a heavy-duty blender, you can place them in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag and crush the cookies with a rolling pin or a meat mallet. Or both.

Mix the crumbs with the melted butter and press it into a 9″ springform pan. Set the pan aside.

For the cheesecake, preheat your oven to 375. You’ll also need a pound of softened cream cheese (not low-fat or fat free. Trust me.), 3 cups of sour cream (again, not low-fat or fat free–I swear, I’m not trying to chubbify you, I’m trying to make sure your cheesecake is awesome), 3 large eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon extract, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and mix on high until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon extract and mix until well-combined. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix until light and fluffy and smooth. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl because sometimes, a thin layer of cream cheese accumulates and then you’ll be sad when you go to scrape the contents of said bowl into the prepared crust and you have lumps

When your cheesecake batter is smooth, pour it into the prepared crust.

Now…I cannot for the life of me find a springform pan that doesn’t leak. I’ve also had not-so-great luck with wrapping the pans in foil. I’ve also mentioned this tip before, but just in case you missed it, try wrapping the pan in a turkey roasting bag. For whatever reason, it seems to be better at keeping the water from the water bath out of the springform pan. If you’re having a hard time envisioning what the heck I’m talking about, here’s a picture from an earlier post:So place the prepared pan in a larger roasting or baking pan. Pour water into the larger pan so it reaches about halfway up the springform pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-55 minutes. Yes, I do realize that is a HUGE time span. When I had an electric oven, as I’m guessing people do, 35 minutes was plenty. Switching to a gas oven was a HUGE adjustment for me and I really had to figure out how to replicate results in my new (and definitely not better for baking) oven. One of those things is that almost everything takes longer in my gas oven. So. Start with 35 minutes and if it’s not done, keep going. Don’t be scared when you get to 55 minutes because I’ve been there and it was okay.

Bake until the cheesecake is still jiggly in the center. Firmly jiggly. Like well-formed Jell-O. If it’s solid, it will be dry and yucky, but you don’t want it to be liquidy, either.

When the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the heat and crack open the door to the oven. Let it hang out in there for another hour or two or until it’s cooled so you can comfortably handle the pan. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a level surface. Resist the temptation to open the springy sides of the pan. Making cheesecake is an exercise in patience.

When it’s completely cool, carefully cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, being careful to keep the wrap off the surface of the cake. Refrigerate it overnight or for at least 8 hours.

When you are finally ready to serve the cheesecake, carefully remove the edges of the pan.

To make the topping, you’ll need sour cream, sweetened condensed milk, and a lemon.

Whisk together 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of strained lemon juice. Carefully spread it over the top of the chilled cheesecake.

Carefully cut into slices (hint: use a sharp knife and wipe it clean after each cut) and serve immediately.

This makes 10-12 civilized human-sized servings.


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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 375o Really? I’ve never seen a cheesecake cooked at that high a temperature. I have one in the oven so I hope I don’t find out too late that the temperature is wrong.

    1. I’ve made this one (or a variation of it) a million times–I promise, it’s right! 🙂

  2. Ugg! Why do you have to combine two of my favorite things and taunt me with something I can’t have!! I’ve had to cut out dairy while nursing my daughter and it’s been rough. As soon as she’s weaned, though this is going to be on my list of things to make! 🙂

  3. Oh my – two of my favourite things: lemon and cheesecake! This is dangerous! I was also always told to be sure your eggs are at room temp when you make cheesecake (or put them in some warm water to bring them up to temp) – it really helps keep the batter smooth and not crack while baking. Good tip on the turkey bag!

  4. I’ve always wondered, do you fill up the water bath with hot water or room temp water? It seems to me it should be super hot water, but no one ever specifies that it should be hot.

  5. So all my springform pans leak too. Boo! (Although I might give the Sur la Table one a try). How exactly do you use the turkey roasting bag? Do you actually put the cheesecake in the bag, or just put the bag around it?

    1. You just set the bag inside the larger pan (don’t bother opening the bag or anything), place the filled springform pan on top of it, and then tuck the edges of the bag between the bag and the springform pan so the water doesn’t get in (see if the picture makes more sense… 🙂 ). I’m not sure why that works better than foil for me, but it does.

  6. I’m going to use the golden Oreo crust idea for a strawberry cheesecake. I haven’t found a recipe for a strawberry cheesecake yet but the two sound like they are meant to be together…

  7. Just FYI: Sur la Table sells Kuhn-Rikon leak-proof PushPans that are supposed to be “a leak-free alternative to the springform pan.” They feature a silicone ring that seals the pan shut. They say the pan is easy to use; “Just place it on a can, bowl or cake stand after baking and push down. The bottom rises up away from the ring and your yummy creation is ready to be served.” I haven’t used it but plan to buy one – I’ll report back on whether it works or not!

  8. I love that you said it makes 10-12 civilized human-sized servings. In my house, we are totally not civilized. We’re lucky if we get 8 slices out of a cheesecake. Haha. 😀 Looks fantastic!

  9. Could I use juice squeezed from fresh lemons and frozen in ice cube trays? I was thinking that might be too watery.

    1. It should be fine, as long as the lemon juice isn’t diluted at all. 🙂

  10. An alternative topping that is really good on lemon cheesecake is lemon curd available in the jam aisle. Just spread a thin layer of the lemon curd over the cheesecake after it has cooled. I used to make a similar topping to yours, but then I discovered lemon curd. I like the extra tartness it give the cheesecake. Probably only for those that like lemon a lot.

  11. Do you have an oven thermometer? Since everything is taking longer in your gas compared to electric, maybe the calibration is off (meaning you set it at 350 but it really only heats to 325)?

    1. The problem with gas ovens is the way the heat is distributed–it’s more like a convection oven than a traditional electric oven. Next time, I’m getting an electric oven and a gas cooktop–best of both worlds! 🙂

  12. Our crazy time is Thanksgiving through New Years…family of four…all four birthdays…Anniversary…and three major holidays. NUTS!

    Best of luck during your crazy month and with your upcoming delivery!

  13. Yum! I bet it would be great with a raspberry topping too. We have lots of jam left over from last summer.

  14. I don’t have a springform pan that doesn’t leak either, so can you come over and wrap mine to ensure non-leakage and then figure out when it’s done baking? Cheesecake and I don’t get along very well (in both the baking and the eating department), but my daughter loves the stuff, so I’m sure she would appreciate you stopping by.
    Let’s hope the doctor doesn’t have his way with your scheduled due date.

  15. By “wipe it clean” you mean “lick it off” don’t you? Oh good I did everything right.

  16. I know what you mean. May is our crazy month, and I have literally been known to put candles into rice krispie treats, just for something different!
    This lemon cheesecake is going on my to-do list, it’s my kind of dessert!

  17. Nordicware has several springform pans in different sizes that are nonleaking. I think that’s the brand that I have and it works great! Amazon carries them. I have loved your recipes and love your cookbook! The lemon cheesecake looks yummy.

    1. My Nordicware pans have been my big leakers. 🙁 Maybe they just don’t like me…

  18. Have you ever tried it with limes? My hubby requested lime cheesecake for Father’s Day. Maybe I will persuade him that lemon is better 🙂

  19. you just single-handedly saved my father’s day…ze hubby loves cheesecake! and I hear you on the birthday thing…i have two brothers born EXACTLY two years apart on Dec 22nd. celebrating two birthdays, christmas, and new years growing up was always party overload!

  20. I so wish I was making this for Father’s Day, but my silly husband thinks he doesn’t like cheesecake. Our birthday month is September, plus or minus a week. We have 6 birthdays and our anniversary in 44 days. Two of my daughters missed having the same birthday by less than 90 minutes. When their week rolls around I make one recipe of whatever cake I’m doing and cook it in 2 9″ pans. I frost one layer for the first birthday and we eat it, then the next day I frost the other layer and we eat that. So far nobody has figured out they are only getting half a cake so it’s working out.

    Also, I feel your pain on the not going into labor thing. All 6 of my birth stories start out with “so we went to the hospital and said “hi, I’m Ellie and I have an appointment.” Hope your appointment is coming up soon!

    1. Silly husbands and thinking they don’t like things. Mine thinks he doesn’t like shrimp or any kind of ice cream that isn’t chocolate. 🙂

  21. At least your family is willing to try other treats besides cake! During our crazy birthday month, my kids all think the only suitable treat for a birthday is a cake. And on a treat scale, cakes are my least favorite so I get REALLY burned out REALLY fast. Somehow, I still manage to stuff myself full of calories though! I just wish the calories were a little more fun to consume. This looks fabulous, and I’m glad our birthday month isn’t this one! That means I will choose what treats to enjoy and this will definitely be on my list!

  22. June is our month as well! I am due today and have been holding tight to this little one over the last two weeks as we got through 2 birthdays (mine and DD #2), preschool graduation, last day of elementary school, 4 little friend birthday parties and two dance recitals. Now that there is a lull in the activity I am hoping to “pop” #5 out before Father’s Day 🙂 This lemony cheesecake looks like a piece of heaven right now and I just added the ingredients to my shopping list as I make another one of my “‘last” trips to the market today – Good luck and wishing you a healthy delivery!

  23. Mmm this looks so good! And I have a lemon tree that produces a lot! Going to pin. 🙂 P.S. When are your December birthdays?? My hubby’s is the 3rd and I’m the 13th! (along with many more family members throughout the month too).

    1. I’m the 3rd, too! So yeah, Thanksgiving, then a few days later, my birthday. Then Christmas craziness, then my son was born the first week of January. Oh, and my sister’s birthday is the day after Christmas.

      1. Oh how cool! I’ll have to tell my husband that one of “our girls” (aka the best bite girls—the BEST food/recipe blog) has the same birthday as him. 🙂