08 June 2013

World’s Best Recipe for Authentic New York Cheesecake

Almost ready to serve!

It’s a sad truth that most New Yorkers don’t make their own authentic New York cheesecake from scratch. Who has the time? Or the space? Or the patience?

And which recipe can be considered truly authentic? Lindy’s? Junior’s? Your lunatic Aunt Sadie’s? Isn’t it really better just to go out and buy a freakin’ cheesecake?

The answer, of course, is no. After a great deal of research, I have arrived at the world’s best recipe for authentic New York cheesecake, which I share with you now, just as I make it at home in my incredibly spacious, admirably well-stocked, impeccably clean kitchen.


For the Pastry
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon, zest of, finely grated
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces.
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Filling
5 (8 ounce) packages neufchâtel cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 orange, zest of, finely grated
1 lemon, zest of, finely grated
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the Sauce (Optional)
3 cups ripe strawberries, rinsed, patted dry, and stems removed
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

575 gallons of rainwater


1. For the pastry, place the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor for 5 seconds. Because who in New York City does not own a food processor?

2. Add the butter, egg yolk, water, and vanilla, then ride the New York City subway until the mixture looks granular and lumpy.

3. Add the flour and take the subway home again, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until the mixture almost gathers into a ball.

4. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap or used Duane Reade bag and press the dough into a 1-inch-thick cake.

5. Wrap and set outside for 1 hour to refrigerate.

6. Adjust an oven rack on your windowsill. The weather has turned warm again.

7. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Which of course you own. Because who in New York City does not own a springform pan?

8. Detach the sides; set aside.

9. Cut off slightly less than one half of the dough. Next, break it into pieces, and scatter them over the springform bottom. Then press firmly and evenly with your fingertips to make a thin layer.

10. Set the bottom crust on the rack on your windowsill and bake until pale golden brown, about 8 minutes.

11. Remove from the window with a wide metal spatula, then return it to the windowsill to cool completely, because the weather has turned cold again.

12. Meanwhile, shape the remaining pastry into a square.

13. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface such as the floor or sidewalk, forming a rectangle slightly larger than 10 x 6 inches.

14. Borrowing a large sharp knife from that creepy guy down the hall, trim away the edges so that the pastry measures 10 x 6 inches.

15. Cut the pastry crosswise into five 2-inch strips.

16. Reassemble the springform pan. You do own a springform pan, don’t you?

17. Line the sides of the pan with 4 of the pastry strips, pressing the pieces firmly together where their edges meet and pressing the pastry firmly against the pan so that it will stay in place. If the pastry resists, try cursing at it.

18. Cut what you need from the last strip to fill in the last gap.

19. To refrigerate while you prepare the filling, place the pastry outside.

20. For the filling, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Because who in New York City does not own an electric mixer?

21. If for some reason you do not own an electric mixer, then hail a taxi and ask the driver to take you around the block while you continue through the following steps.

22. Add the sugar, flour, salt, zests, and vanilla and drive or beat until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.

23. Drive or beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating only until thoroughly incorporated, about 15 seconds after each.

24. Drive or beat for another 30 seconds.

25. On low speed or at rush hour, drive or beat in the heavy cream.

26. Scrape the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Pay the driver.

27. It’s gotten hot outside again. Place the cheesecake on the windowsill to bake for 10 minutes, then bring it inside, where the heat in your apartment should be about 200 degrees, and bake for 1 hour longer; the top will be golden brown.

28. It’s gotten cold outside again, so cool by placing on a rack on your windowsill. Cover loosely to protect from pigeons, and refrigerate by leaving it outside for at least 6 hours; overnight is best.

29. For the strawberry sauce, if the strawberries are small, reserve 1 cup of the prettiest ones. If they are large, slice enough to make 1 cup. If they are mildewed and rotting, as fresh produce generally is in New York City groceries, throw out and buy more berries, repeating the above steps until you have enough.

30. Place the remaining berries in a medium saucepan and crush with a potato masher, because who in New York City does not own a potato masher?

31. If for some reason you do not own a potato masher, place the remaining berries in a plastic bag, deposit in the street, and wait for a few taxis to drive over it until crushed.

32. Add the sugar, water, salt, and cornstarch.

33. It’s gotten hot again. Leaning out of your window, stir well with a heat- proof rubber spatula, because who in New York City does not own a heat-proof rubber spatula? Bring to a boil over your windowsill, stirring constantly.

34. Keep stirring.

35. Fuck it, just use strawberry jam.

36. To serve, retrieve the cheesecake from your windowsill. Dust off any excess pigeon or rat droppings, according to taste.

37. Next, run a small sharp knife or used Metrocard around the edges of the cake to release the pastry, then carefully remove the sides of the pan.

38. Take the 575 gallons of rainwater and begin to pour over the cheesecake.

39. Keep pouring.

40. Keep pouring. It isn’t authentic New York City cheesecake if it isn’t soaking wet, because lately the rain never stops in this freakin’ town.

41. When the water has risen to your shins and completely ruined your new shoes, and the fine aroma of mildew begins to fill your kitchen, then rinse a knife and slice, serving each portion with a spoonful of the strawberry jam.

42. Enjoy!

So yeah, we’ve been having weird weather.


Anonymous said...

Look, I'm a big believer in the cultural significance of cheesecake. But would you be annoyed if I said I wish this blog would return to its roots?

-- Rick

Rachel Page said...

Can't wait to try it! Looks so good, and pretty simple!

William V. Madison said...

Thanks, Rachel. I'd forgotten I'd written this!