Here it is. The long-awaited reveal!
We do have a birthday to celebrate, remember?
First, I made the dough for the cheesecake crust. Well, I tried to make the dough and broke the food processor. (I probably shouldn’t tell you about that.) But mom came home with a new food processor, I made new dough and all was well.
The crust for this cheesecake is unlike any cheesecake crust I’m used to. It’s really a traditional pie crust rather than a cookie or graham cracker crumb version. So it’s dense and crunchy on the outside and makes for a much more substantive cheesecake. As you see, it stands very well on its own. Sturdy.
The filling is a pretty normal vanilla cheesecake, but with a swirl of lemon curd so there’s a ribbon of flavor in every bite. At the finish, the lemon curd pools in the crater atop the cheesecake. I dutifully obeyed the photos and instructions and arranged my candied lemons in the center. But, really, you should always let your creativity soar. Go where it takes you.
Once it was all put together, I have to say. It looked very impressive and professional, yet I totally made it. I did have to get a head start, making everything one day in advance, but it all came together quite easily the next day. And every bit of it’s from scratch.
Are you proud? ‘Cause I’m proud.
It was a big hit. Taffy raved, said it was the best thing she’d ever eaten and immediately posted pictures to Instagram. I think that’s the best compliment any cook can ask for these days, to make the birthday girl happy and be publicly praised on social media.
For the dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold and cubed
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 – 2 teaspoons ice water
You start with a mess o’ butter. Dice a stick of cold, even frozen, butter into small cubes. Keep it as cold as possible.
Add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse it three to four times until it’s combined. Add the cubed butter and pulse another five to six times until it’s crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of the ice water. Add that to the processor and let it process until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to gather into a ball. Add up to the remaining 1 tablespoon of ice water if it looks too dry at any point. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, cover the dough and form it into a ball. Chill for at least 4 hours and up to a day in advance.
Lightly dust a surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to a 14-inch circle. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, then gently move the dough into it, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan. Trim along the rim and add pieces of dough where you may need to fill in. Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
For the cheesecake:
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese*, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup lemon curd
*I used light cream cheese. You could mix regular and light, you could go all regular or you could go all light. I wouldn’t use fat-free cream cheese, though. Have you ever tasted that? Blech.
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl with a stand or electric mixer on medium until it’s smooth, about 3 minutes or so. Add the sugar a bit at a time, and mix until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, blending completely before adding the next egg. Add the vanilla.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Pour two-thirds of the cheesecake batter onto the dough (about 4 cups). Add 1 cup of lemon curd right in the center. With a knife, swirl it gently to combine it with the batter throughout the cake. Carefully pour or spoon over the remaining cheesecake batter.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is just set and not too jiggly. Leave the cheesecake in the oven but turn it off. Let it stand in the oven with the door closed for 15 minutes. Then take the cheesecake out of the oven and run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the crust. Cool the cake completely on the counter, for about an hour, then cover it with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
For the decoration:
- 1 cup lemon curd
- Candied lemon slices
When the cheesecake has fully chilled, pour up to 1 cup of lemon curd over the top. You may not need the full cup, but you can use as much as you like or as much as the cake will take without spilling over. Remove it from the springform pan. Transfer it to a plate, platter or cake stand.
Either mound the candied lemon slices in the middle of the cheesecake or artfully arrange them over the top. Go wild.
Use a serrated knife to cut and serve slices of cheesecake — the crust is firm so put your weight into it if you need to. Then, devour.