My mother’s baked cheesecake

Since I can remember, my mother has made New York style baked cheesecake.  She learned how to do this when my parents lived in New York in the 1960s from a recipe in Life Magazine. I think of baked cheesecake as part of my cultural heritage, because I was born in Manhatten. 

Baked cheesecake is nothing like the anaemic, no-bake confection that masquerades as cheesecake in Britain. It is rich, creamy, delicious and dangerously addictive.

NY-style cheesecake is more widely available here in America than in Britain.  I try it in coffee shops and restaurants, but inevitably it is never as good as my mother makes.

So I asked my mother to email me her recipe so that I could try to make it myself.  I gather that cheesecake has a temperamental chemistry – even quite small changes in the ingredients can change the whole character of the end result.  I thought myself very daring in cutting the amount of sugar in half, and using buckwheat flour instead of normal flour (because that was all I had).

What was the result?  See for yourself: the photo is of my elevenses this morning. Of course, it was nothing like as good as my mother makes, but not bad for a first attempt.

My mother’s full recipe is below the fold.


Cups and pints are US standard

  • 1lb. cream cheese.
  • 1lb. creamed cottage cheese.
  • 1.5 cups sugar.
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten.
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour (US cornstarch)
  • 3 tablespoons flour.
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • Half a cup or quarter of a pound, butter.
  • 1 pint sour cream.

Beat cheeses together. gradually add sugar and then eggs. At low speed add cornflour, flour, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in melted butter and sour cream.

Pour into greased 9 or 10 inch spring -form pan.

Bake at 325F or 170C or gas mark 3 for 1 hour 10 minutes or until firm around the edges. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in for 2 hours. Cool for 2 hours and then refrigerate.

It will cook more quickly in a 10 inch pan.

It will continue to cook in the 2 hours after you turn the oven off. It will be quite pale when you turn off the heat and will brown somewhat in that 2 hours.

I find that with a modern fan type oven and in a 10 inch pan it cooks in 45 minutes. I am never quite convinced that it is safe to turn it off so soon but it always is!

8 thoughts on “My mother’s baked cheesecake”

  1. Looks delicious, but one thing I have learned in trying to emulate the cooking style of my mother–because mom makes it, by nature of that fact, it will never be as good as mom’s.  However, I am quite hungry for a good piece of cheesecake now, ha! 

  2. Tim

    I wish.  There is a little known exclusion in US law that the children of diplomats serving in the United States do not qualify for US citizenship. So I do not have a claim to US citizenship on those grounds.

    This has occasionally given rise to Kafka-esque discussions with immigration officials.  They go something like this:

    HS official: "Good afternoon sir.  I see you were born in New York. Can I see your US passport."

    Me: "I don’t have one."

    HS: "As an American citizen, you are required to travel into and out of the country with your US passport."

    Me: "No, I mean I am not a US citizen"

    HS: "But you were born in New York.  You are an American citizen."

    Me: "Under a technicality, I am not entitled to US citizenship.  I am British."

    HS: "Can you prove that?"

    Me: "Yes. Here is my British passport."

    HS: "No, I mean can you prove you are not American."

    Me (exasperated): "Of course not. Can you prove that you are not British?"

    HS (snapping on latex rubber gloves): "Would you like to come with me, please sir"

  3. I can believe that it is good, your mother’s I mean.  Years ago, in the early 60s, before the battle had been lost to the frozen kind and to raspberry pavlova, Levey’s Delicatessen every Thursday used to supply delicious baked cheesecake to Belfast’s Jewish population, living mostly within walking distance.  He whom at first i took to be Levey did not look the part.  It turned out that Levey had long since dies or gone to Israel, and that the shop had been taken over by one Armstrong, a devout Catholic, on the condition that he kept the name and continued to meet the need for kosher salami and other dietary necessities of his principal customers, and to provide the cheesecake.  A small queue formed each week at the hour of its production.  Now the shop has gone along with Mr Nemtzov the butcher’s and the furriers and umbrella-repairers and most of the rest of them.  Sad.

  4. When I first visited New York in the mid-90’s, I had the cheesecake in a diner and was immediately hooked. Indeed, I ate little else for the whole week, and in retrospect it probably forms a crucial watershed between my early, sylph-like years and my recent, whale-like ones.
    I’ve had had some luck recreating it with various recipes (including, God forgive me, one from Jamie Oliver) – and may well try your dear old ma’s. Since you’re at least an honorary American, I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I get so fat that I have to sue you. Or her.

  5. I am on Sakhalin Island in Russias Far East and have had a craving for just this type of New York cheesecake.  As soon as I

    figure out how to say cottage cheese in Russian I will give this a shot. 

    Thanks for the recipe and give your mum a kiss from us on this skinny isle!

  6. Many moons ago in 1963/64 in 7th grade Home Ec Classf(Woodrow Wilson Jr. High, Hanford, Ca Mrs. Tomer gave our class a cheesecake recipe. It was the best. My sister found the copy I gave her years ago and I can’t find mine. She will not share it and considers it a “family” treasure, which it is.

    This recipe had pineapple chunks and was so delicious, you just couldn’t stop eating it. As we got older we abstained from to many cheesecakes and haven’t made it in years. If there is anyone out there that has that old recipe please email it to me. I will try this recipe as the ingredients are similar to the old one.
    Thank you.

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