I love Cheesecake. I love to make it more than I like to eat it. I love taking my time in preparing the perfect cheesecake. There’s something about creating a cheesecake with the perfect blend of flavors and creaminess and then seeing the smile on your families face:) Cheesecake varies from the most basic cheesecake to more complex ones. This buttermilk cheesecake is fairly simple to make. I am including a whole load of tips at the end of this post that will ensure you have a perfect cheesecake. All you need is patience and a little extra time.
For the crust, pulse vanilla vanilla wafers in a food processor until the mixture becomes crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you could put the wafers a plastic bag and use a rolling pin or something else to crush the wafers. Once wafers are crumbs, add melted butter and vanilla and pulse again. I don’t have a large food processor so I process the wafers in batches. One I have them crushed, I put everything in a large bowl and mix together.
I have no idea why she looks so sad. She looks like someone just took her best friend. Anyway, press your crumb mixture into the bottom of a 10 in. spring from pan. It’s easiest if you use the bottom of a glass cup or a ramekin.
To prepare your water bath, wrap your pan with heavy duty foil. Tear off a big piece of foil and lay the pan on it. Wrap the foil up around the sides and that’s it. You don’t have to make the foil as nice as in the picture. I’m kind of a perfectionist like that. It’s okay if the foil hangs up above the pan. Place your cheesecake pan in a larger pan, like a lasagna or roasting pan and pour the batter into your pan.
No matter what a recipe says, I always bake my cheesecakes at 325. It’s kind of the universal cheesecake temperature. If a recipe tells you to start at a high temperature and then lower it, you could do that. BUT, never bake your cheesecake lower than 325. We don’t want any funky stuff to start growing in it. This cheesecake takes about 60-75 minutes. After an hour I shook the pan gently. If it jiggled slightly in the center than it was time to take it out. This cheesecake baked for 75 minutes.
You can turn the oven off, keep the oven door ajar and leave the cheesecake in for 30-60 minutes. Or you can take it out right away and let it cool on the counter before refrigerating it. Whatever you do, don’t keep out of the refrigerator longer than two hours. Again, we don’t want any funky stuff growing in it. You can see how the cheesecake has pulled away from the sides as it cools. That will make it easier for me to remove the spring form pan. if that doesn’t happen, I take a knife dipped in hot water and run it around the sides of the cheesecake before removing the spring form pan.
Here’s the recipe
- 1 box vanilla wafers
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) melted
- 1-½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 24 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
- grated zest of 2 lemons
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Place vanilla wafers into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture becomes crumbs. Add melted butter and vanilla and pulse again until combined. Pour into a 10-inch spring form pan and press crumbs into the bottom of the pan. I use the bottom of a glass cup or small ramekin. This part is optional but I like to stick the pan in the freezer while I make the filling. It hardens the crust a bit.
Cream butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. I kind of go crazy on this part and beat the heck out of it until its super smooth. You don’t want to have any cream cheese bits what so ever and this is the only chance you have to get it nice and creamy. If there are any cream cheese bits once you start adding the liquids, it’s almost impossible to make the batter smooth. This is the first time I’ve added butter to my cheesecake. Usually the cream cheese stands alone.
Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat until smooth.
Add buttermilk and vanilla extract and beat, occasionally scraping down the sides, until well mixed.
Add eggs one a time and beat on the lowest setting until just combined. Do not over-beat. I cannot stress this enough. This is the part where you absolutely don’t want to beat the heck out of it. Over-beating will cause too much air to incorporate in the batter and that will result in cracks in your cheesecake.
Wrap the sides of your pan in aluminum foil. You’re doing this to help avoid water from getting into your crust and cheesecake. We’ll talk about setting the cheesecake in a water bath in a minute. The easiest way to foil up your pan is to lay a sheet of foil on the counter and set your pan on top of it. Wrap the foil up around the sides. Lay another sheet of foil down and set your pan on top of it, but turn the pan so that the longer pieces of foil will come up around the two sides that didn’t get as much foil the first time. Wrap the foil up around the sides. Does that make sense? I’m sure I could have figured out a shorter way to say that.
Pour the batter into the reserved crust. Set your cheesecake in a larger pan like a lasagna pan or a roasting pan.
Set the large pan with your cheesecake in the oven and very carefully pour hot water in the larger pan until it comes halfway up your cheesecake.
Bake your cheesecake at 325 degrees for 60-75 minutes. My cheesecakes usually take at least an hour to bake but sometimes it can take 10-15 minutes longer than that. If I’m using a 10 in. spring form I’m usually guaranteed longer than 60 minutes. I mean, that’s a lot of cheesecake.
Your cheesecake is done when it jiggles slightly in the center of your cheesecake. It will continue baking even after you take it out. Once your cheesecake has cooled, stick in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but chilling it overnight is better.
Baking a cheesecake can be a bit tricky but as long as you pay attention and follow a few simple rules you will have a beautiful cheesecake:
- Your cream cheese, and in this recipe butter, needs to be at room temperature. This will prevent lumps when you beat the cream cheese.
- Do not over-beat your cheesecake batter. Once you’re ready to add the eggs, use the lowest setting and mix only until each egg is combined.
- Using quality, which usually means expensive, ingredients, is not crucial but it could mean the difference between a good cheesecake and an amazing cheesecake.
- One thing you can’t skimp on is the fat content. Do not use reduced fat or nonfat cream cheese or ricotta cheese. I’m not trying to make you fat, but the low fat and nonfat versions contain fillers that might prevent your cheesecake from setting properly. Also, never substitute whipped cream cheese for the solid block.
- Make sure you use Pure Vanilla Extract. Do not use Imitation Vanilla Extract and if you can, splurge on the vanilla. I even love using pure vanilla paste or vanilla beans. Measure for measure, it is the same. One teaspoon of vanilla bean paste equals one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
- Every oven if different and every cheesecake is different. But there is one universal rule that I follow when baking cheesecakes. No matter what the recipe says I always bake my cheesecakes at 325 degrees. Anything higher and it cooks the cheesecake too quickly. Anything lower and you risk the growth of bacteria. I’ve seen recipes where you start out at a high temp. to get the cheesecake going and then you lower the temp. to slow the baking down, but if you keep the temperature at 325 degrees, you will allow the cheesecake to bake at a nice even pace. You will reduce the risk of cracks and the possibility of harmful bacterial growth. You don’t have to worry about fussing with the temperature after 15 minutes or halfway through. You can set the timer and walk away.
- That is the next important rule. Just walk away…for at least 30 minutes. When you open the oven door you’re allowing a rush of air to enter the oven. After 30-45 minutes your cheesecake will be set enough that opening the oven to check on it will not harm your cheesecake.
- Using a water bath helps keep your cheesecake from forming cracks and ensures that it will bake evenly and slowly. If you don’t use the water bath I’m guessing your cheesecake will not take as long to bake. But do the water bath. For real, it will be worth it.
- Wrapping your pan in foil helps keep the water out of cheesecake and crust when you use the water bath. It is not always fool proof but it helps. Just take a big piece of foil and lay the whole pan on it. Wrap the foil up around the sides and you’re good to go.
- If you’re not worried about setting your cheesecake out for presentation, use a solid one-piece cake pan. That is a fool proof way to ensure your crust won’t get soggy from the water bath.
- Cheesecakes always taste better after chilling for a day or two. The flavors marry together and intensify so try to make your cheesecake 1 or 2 days in advance.
- Some recipes recommend turning off the oven when the cheesecake is done baking and leaving it there to cool down for an hour or two. I’ve even seen some people recommend three hours. The reason this is a bad idea is that is promotes the growth of bacteria. Your cheesecake shouldn’t be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours maximum in a room temperature room or 1 hour in a 90 degrees F room.
Here are some cheesecakes that my taste testing family have approved and may just ruin your taste buds for those no bake cheesecakes in a box, or even worse, cheesecake filling in a tub…Blech, don’t do it. Even if you’re not adventurous, you can whip up a basic cheesecake in no time.
Here is a pretty basic cheesecake recipe that you can dress up with a variety of fruit toppings. The blueberry fruit topping is delicious but my favorite is raspberry.
This next one is so worth the extra effort. I make it every year for Thanksgiving.
This next one is requested most by my family. I’ve had some family members who are not a huge fan of cheesecake and they love this one. Make it now.
These bars have a layer of cheesecake in them. They’re divine and so rich. Generally, one one piece is plenty but my brothers can take out a whole pan.