Lindy’s Cheesecake: The Recipe
Here is Lindy’s Cheesecake, the famous New York icon. It is my favorite cheesecake in the world. Why? Because its creamy texture can’t be beat, and it sports a pastry crust that insulates it from the intense initial heat of the oven–525 degrees Fahrenheit. The cake’s beautiful dark brown top comes from that inferno-like temperature. Make sure your oven can accommodate these swings in temperature accurately! Test your oven with an oven thermometer before attempting this recipe.
So Just What Is A New York Cheesecake? Restaurants all over the country serve cheesecakes with the New York moniker. But what does that really mean? Cheesecakes have been eaten for centuries. The first printed recipe dates to about 1440, when there was no New York. Molly O’Neill says New York cheesecake derives from an Eastern European-style cake made from cream cheese and pot cheese. Immigrants from that part of the world brought it with them to New York City, and there it was reborn and given its name. But New York cheesecake is not a specific recipe. It is a style.
New York-style cheesecakes tend to have generous amounts of cream cheese and fairly dense (yet light!), smooth creamy textures. The type of crust doesn’t define the cake, but Graham cracker crusts have become extremely popular. Lindy’s Cheesecake, traditionally made with a pastry crust, is a New York cheesecake, even though today it’s apt to have a crust of Graham crackers. But cheesecake didn’t really begin to become a nationwide phenomenon until 1949, when Charles Lubin, a Chicago baker, founded a company he named after his daughter, Sara Lee. The SaraLee cheesecake, its rich cream cheese filling topped with a smooth as butter layer of sour cream, became a marketing phenomenon and a national icon.
- Stand Mixer with flat beater attachment
- Spring-form pan, 9-inch
- Microplane grater
- Food processor
- Oven thermometer
- Butter for the pan
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces)
Cream Cheese Filling
- 5 8-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon, finely grated zest
- 1 orange, finely grated zest
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 5 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the Pastry
- Detach the side from a 9-inch spring-form pan. Butter the bottom and sides; set aside. Do not reassemble the pan.
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (This is the temperature for baking the crust).
- To make the pastry, place the sugar and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 5 seconds.
- Add the cold butter, egg yolk, vanilla, and water, and pulse until the dough looks granular and lumpy; the butter should be in pieces about 1/4-inch in size.
- Add the flour, and pulse vey rapidly 20 to 30 times, stopping occasionally to scrape the side and bottom of the work bowl, until the dough almost gathers into a ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and press it into a 1-inch-thick cake. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Cut away slightly less than one-half of the dough (about 5 ounces). Break this dough into pieces, and scatter them over the bottom of the spring form pan.
- Press firmly and evenly with your fingertips to make a thin layer. Set the bottom crust in the oven and bake until a pale golden brown, about 8 minutes. A delicious aroma will permeate your kitchen.
- Remove the crust from the oven with a wide metal spatula and set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely. Increase the thermostat to 525 degrees .
- Reshape the remaining pastry into a square and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle slightly larger than 10 x 6-inches. With a large, sharp knife, trim away rough or uneven edges so that the pastry measures exactly 10 x 6 inches.
- Now use a ruler to mark the pastry into five 2-inch widths and cut it into 6-inch-long strips with the knife. Reassemble the two pieces of the spring form pan.
- Place one of the pieces of pastry onto the inside of the spring form pan with a long side touching the bottom crust; press the pastry firmly against the pan so that it will stay in place. Continue in this manner with additional strips of pastry, going all around the spring form ring. There will be a small gap remaining.
- Cut what you need from the last strip to fill in this gap. Be sure to press the pieces of pastry firmly to each other where their edges meet. Set aside and make the filling.
Making the Filling
- Beat the cream cheeses in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth and free of lumps on medium to medium high speed. Stop to scrape the bowl and beater often.
- Add the sugar, flour, salt, grated fruit rinds, and vanilla, and beat until very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the bowl and beater as necessary.
- On medium speed, add the eggs and yolks one at a time and beat only until thoroughly incorporated, about 15 seconds after each.
- After all the eggs have been added, scrape the bowl and beat another 30 seconds on medium speed. Beat in the heavy cream on low speed. Scrape the filling into the prepared pan and smooth the top. It should just reach the top edge of the pastry.
Baking and Serving
- Place the pan in oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 525 degrees, then lower the thermostat to 200 degrees and bake exactly 1 hour longer. Do not open the oven door until the baking time is completed.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven—its top will be beautifully browned—and cool to room temperature on a cooling rack. Refrigerate, the top loosely draped with plastic wrap, for at least 6 hours, but overnight is best.
- When ready to serve, carefully remove the side of the pan (if necessary, run a small sharp knife around the edge to release the pastry). To make each cut, rinse a knife in hot water, shake off the excess water, and slice the cheesecake.
- Serve portions plain or with a fruit sauce of your choosing or with a dollop of cream and berries. Refrigerate leftovers. This cheesecake keeps well for up to 4 days.