I have tried dozens of cheesecake recipes over the years and my favorite is the recipe for the first one I ever made. I found the recipe for Lindy’s Famous Cheesecake in the first edition (1963) of McCall’s Cookbook that I received from my grandmother at my bridal shower. It was a very popular cookbook and I’m sure everybody who got married in the 60’s got one as a gift on some occasion. This cake is big and heavy (2-1/2 pounds of cream cheese and 7 eggs), New York style, dense and rich, and if you ever try it you won’t forget it.
Lindy’s Cheesecake has a long history in New York when Leo Lindermann opened his first deli on Broadway in 1921. If you are interested in the history of this famous dessert you can read about it here and here. Cheesecake has been a part of America’s culinary history since the early 1730’s but didn’t evolve into the cheesecake we know today until the development of cream cheese around 1910.
The original Lindy’s cheesecake has a cookie crust. I tried it several times and never cared for it. It isn’t possible to get a nice crisp crust so I substituted a graham cracker crust early in my baking days and have used it ever since. I found a big box of Biscoff cookies at Costco recently and made a crumb crust of them instead of the graham crackers. The crust was more flavorful than one made with graham crackers, but I like the nuttiness of the graham flour and will stick with that in the future. The cake is all about the incredibly delicious filling so I never get any complaints about the crust I use. I have included the original crust in the recipe so you can try it if you are curious.
This cheesecake is easy to make. The trick is baking a cake that doesn’t crack. Let the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs stand at room temperature for at least thirty minutes before using. After adding the eggs, do not over beat or the air will cause a crack in the center. Baking at too high a temperature or over baking also contributes to cracking. Baking in a water bath reduces the possibility of cracking and produces the creamiest texture. I try all these techniques and, as you can see in the photos, my cake has the Grand Canyon running down the center. It usually doesn’t matter because a topping covers it up nicely so don’t worry about it.
I made this cheesecake for my daughter’s April birthday and passed a selection of toppings rather than choosing one for the top of the cake. Homemade caramel sauce was delicious and sliced strawberries are always a winner. I cut small pieces because we had a big platter of fried razor clams and roasted asparagus for the birthday dinner. If you have never made a New York style cheesecake I urge you to try it. It’s truly one of the most wonderful desserts and is so easy to make at home.
- 1 cup flour
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- (A graham cracker crust can be substituted for the cookie crust)
- 2½ lb. cream cheese, softened
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 1½ tsp. orange zest
- 1½ tsp. lemon zest
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 5 whole eggs, plus 2 yolks
- ¼ cup heavy cream