This easy lemon cheesecake infused with lemon zest is super creamy and the buttery crust is perfect. Served with an easy berry sauce, it is the ultimate indulgent dessert.
This dreamy, creamy classic lemon cheesecake recipe is honestly the stuff of dreams. The buttery crust is the perfect base for the incredibly luscious, creamy lemon cheesecake filling. The sour cream cheesecake topping finishes the cheesecake off beautifully (and hides any cracks that might’ve appeared while baking, but keep reading, I have a few tips for that). And then there’s that easy berry sauce. So ruby red and tart and sweet and oh my. I can’t get enough.
Table of Contents
- Cookies, for the crust. Graham crackers/Digestive biscuits.
- Butter. I used salted butter but unsalted butter can also be used.
- Cream cheese. Full fat cream cheese is best. I use Philadelphia cream cheese for my cheesecakes.
- Creamed cottage cheese. If you can’t find creamed or smooth cottage cheese, substitute with cream cheese. The cottage cheese just adds a lightness to the finished cheesecake.
- Caster sugar.
- Flour. All purpose flour.
- Sour cream.
- Vanilla extract.
- Fresh lemon zest. If you don’t like the lemon flavor in cheesecake, simply leave out the lemon zest.
For the berry sauce
I love serving cheesecake with berry sauce or fruit to cut through the richness but you can serve cheesecake with whipped cream and garnish with lemon slices and mint too.
- Frozen berries. I used mixed frozen berries but you can use any berries of your choice. Strawberries, blueberries and cherries work well with cheesecake.
- Fresh lemon juice.
- Sugar. Granulated sugar/caster sugar can be used.
- Corn starch.
How to make lemon cheesecake
Cheesecake can be very daunting for some but honestly, there’s no reason to be intimidated. The crust can be made by either bashing the cookies and mixing with melted butter OR by simply combining everything in a food processor and letting the machine do all the work.
The same goes for the cheesecake batter. I make the filling in the bowl of a stand mixer but you can use a large bowl and an electric mixer too. All you really need to remember is that all the ingredients need to be room temperature and that you need to scrape down the sides of the bowl often. If your ingredients aren’t all the same temperature they won’t blend well together and you will be left with lumpy cheesecake filling. It’s especially important for the cream cheese to be at room temperature before you start.
Scraping the bowl down regularly also helps with the smoothness of the filling. I scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula after every addition. That being the eggs, the sour cream, the lemon zest and the vanilla. This allows for the cream cheese that gets stuck to the outside of the bowl to incorporate in the filling without forming lumps.
Baking cheesecake tips:
When it comes to baking your cheesecake, it’s good to know the oven you’re working with. The best rule-of-thumb when it comes to a baked cheesecake is to bake it in a water bath/Bain Marie. This prevents the cheesecake from cracking because the water allows the cheesecake to bake gently. And for many ovens, this is the best way to do it. My oven however is quite steady and seems to be true to temperature.
Many oven temperatures can vary. So I tested this recipe without a water bath and it worked beautifully. I think the key is just to keep the temperature constant, and moderate, and to bake the cheesecake slowly. No rushing here.
Assemble the cheesecake in a springform pan and put the cheesecake in the oven at 230ºC/440°F and allowed it to bake for 15 minutes before turning the temperature down to 110ºC/230°F and allowing it to bake for a further 45-60 minutes. After 45 minutes I checked it by shaking the pan slightly and saw that there was still too much jiggle left in the cheesecake. Just the very center needs to have a little jiggle left, which will set as the cheesecake cools.
Lemon cheesecake topping
The sour cream mixture is poured onto the cake and allowed to bake for another 15 minutes before the cake is left to cool for an hour or two in the switched off oven with the door ajar. This also helps to avoid any cracks from forming. After that, the cheesecake goes in the refrigerator overnight and the next day you are met with THE creamiest, dreamiest, best cheesecake recipe you will have ever tried.
Why did my cheesecake crack?
- Over-mixing (especially after the eggs are added) will introduce too much air into the batter. The cheesecake will rise and then sink when removed from the oven, causing the top to crack.
- Opening the oven while the cheesecake is still baking can cause it to crack. Keep the temperature steady during baking. A good way to do that is to bake the cake in a water bath.
- Over-baking. The cheesecake will still have a wobbly center which will result in a crack-free, creamy texture.
- Removing the cake from the oven too quickly. Once baked, open the oven door and then leave it to cool in the oven for an hour or so. This will allow the cheesecake to chill slowly.
- Lemon Meringue Pie
- Mini lemon curd cheesecakes
- Salted caramel and chocolate ice cream bombe
- Flourless chocolate cake
Classic baked cheesecake
For the crust
- 400 g (14oz) cookies crushed (Graham crackers/Digestive biscuits)
- 100 g (3.5oz) butter melted
For the filling
- 750 g (1½lb) plain cream cheese room temperature
- 250 g (½lb) creamed cottage cheese room temperature
- 250 g (1¼ cups) caster sugar
- 3 tbsp/50g flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 250 ml (1 cup) sour cream
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon
For the topping
- 500 ml (2 cups) sour cream
- 50 g (¼ cup) sugar
Easy berry sauce
- 400 g (14oz) frozen berries
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp water
- Pre-heat the oven to 230ºC and grease a 20cm springform cake pan well.
- For the crust, combine the crushed cookies with the melted butter and mix well. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared cake pan. The crust doesn't have to be all the way up to the top of the pan.
- Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- To make the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese and cottage cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar and flour and continue beating until well mixed, scraping down half way through the mixing.
- Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
- Stir in the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
- Pour the filling onto the chilled crust and place on a baking sheet (if your oven's temperature is not steady and you know it has heat spots, wrap the bottom of the cake pan in foil and place the cake pan into a deep roasting dish. Fill up to half way up the cake pan's height with boiling water then place in the oven.) and place in the oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 230ºC then turn down the heat to 110ºC and allow to bake for a further 45-60 minutes, until the cake's centre jiggles slightly when the pan is gently shaken.
- Mix together the sour cream and sugar and pour gently on top of the cake and return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.
- When the cheesecake is baked, switch off the oven and open the oven door. Allow the cheesecake to cool for at least one hour this way and then transfer to the fridge to cool overnight.
- To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Cool to room temperature and serve with slices of cheesecake. e