A true New York-style cheesecake has no crust. Which is not to say you can’t add one if you like, but let’s worry about that a little later on. This recipe is dense and creamy, just like a New York cheesecake is supposed to be. Note that the reason for the creaminess is not an abundance of cream cheese, but an abundance of sour cream, which serves not only to cut the fat content way down, but to introduce a very pleasant tang. I make this cake in a nine-inch springform pan, however if you’re the type of person that prefers your cheesecake very tall, you can use an eight.
1 lb. 2 ounces cream cheese
7 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lb. 8 ounces sour cream (you can also use heavy cream, or any combination of the two)
Bring all ingredients to room temperature before you start. Set your oven to preheat at 350 while you line your pan with parchment paper (for more on that, see the post How to Prepare a Cake Pan for Baking under the Techniques menu). You’ll also need to have the elements of a water bath nearby: a shallow pan big enough to hold the cake pan, plus a tea kettle or pan of water set over heat. You’ll also need some tin foil to create a “boat” for the cake pan.
Now then, for the batter. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the cream cheese, sugar and salt and beat on medium speed for about four minutes until the mixture is light and creamy, scraping the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is combined. Beat in the vanilla, then, one at a time, beat in the eggs (again, don’t forget to scrape the bowl). Once you’re satisfied that everything is homogenous, turn the mixer down to medium-low and start adding the sour cream by scoops. Scrape and stir until all is combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Set the pan on cris-crossed sheets of tin foil and bring up the edges to form a “boat” that will prevent water from seeping in. Put the cake pan into the larger baking pan and place it on a center rack in the oven. Slide the oven rack with the pan out part way, and carefully pour in enough simmering water to come about half way up the sides of the cake pan. Close the oven door and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and — without opening the oven door — let the cheesecake bake for one more hour as the oven cools. Take the cheesecake out of the oven (it should be slightly jiggly but not at all soupy in the center), cool it on a rack for another hour, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator overnight.