So I learned to make cheesecake this thanksgiving - boy did I ever! I used the recipe from Cooking for Engineers, which worked fine except for the actual cooking temperature/times. I'm still trying to find a guide to how long/how hot I should cook the cheesecakes so they end up toasty brown on top and creamy and DONE all through the middle. So far little luck.
We always go to FavoriteAunt's place for the holidays, and this year was only a little different - this year, being a newly married woman, I was invited to participate in the Midnight Drunken Baking that happens the night before. This is usually reserved for married ladies and single ladies (i.e. no unmarried ladies living in sin with their SOs, FavAunt wants none of this under her roof), with the one notable exception of FavCousin's now-fiance being invited when she was his then-girlfriend. Now-fiance lived nearby, and she didn't sleep over, so it was okay.
ANYWAY. Midnight drunken baking. I offered to make a cheesecake, and FavAunt contemplated making two. I was directed to make two crusts, and did so, thinking they were both for cheesecake and that a third crust would be made for FavAunt's sugar-free pumpkin cheesecake (made for FavUncle). She thought I was making one crust for me and one for her. I made two cheesecakes' worth of filling, filled the first pie tin (which was not so much a pie tin as a giant tall cake tin), and started filling the second.
She stopped me and asked what the crap I was doing. I explained, she explained, the misunderstanding was soon made clear. I poured the filling back into the bowl as best I could, and she filled it up with her pumping cheesecake filling. It was about half-full, as was the first pie tin, and I still had me a bowl full of uncooked cheesecake goodness.
So, of course, we topped off both. One only-cheesecake, one half-pumpkin cheesecake (in layers!). Good times, right? Who doesn't love more cheesecake?
Well, the baking directions said to cook one pie for 10 minutes at 500 degrees, then two hours at 200 degrees. FavAunt was dubious. I wanted to stick to the recipe. We compromised, first cooking both pies together at the times and temperatures directed, then when they were clearly not done like at all turning it up to 350 like FavAunt wanted and cooking them until they were actually done. We didn't get a clear time on how long that took, since we were also opening the oven every 20 minutes to put in other things to bake, like TwinSister's apple pies, coconut almond tartlets, and apple caramel tartles that we made from all the leftovers of the other desserts (which were delicious, btw).
So when they were finally done, we chilled them as we were able and for the hell of it, weighed them. They were each 7 lbs. Not a crumb remained by the end of the night, except the slice I saved to take home to some friends who had to work thanksgiving.
Later that weekend, we were scheduled to meet up at mom's house on sunday doing HER thanksgiving, so I decided to make another cheesecake. I only made one, and I cooked it as per the recipe (10 mins @ 500, 2 hours @ 200) before cranking it up to 350 for another half an hour. This one was only 5 lbs, but I figured that was okay. It was also a hit, but as mom's gathering are much less massive than FavAunt's (15 people vs. 40 people), by the time I had to leave to drive home there was still half a cheesecake left - and you best believe it went home with me.
So basically this is the recipe.
1 graham cracker crust (make your own or buy it, however you like)
1 really tall cake tin, or 9-10" springform pan.
2.5 lbs of cream cheese at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
(Optionally, 3 Tbs flour (I did not do this))
Mix of cream cheese at room temperature until smooth.
Mix in salt.
Mix in sugar, in thirds. Optionally, also mix in the flour.
Mix in lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
Mix in heavy cream.
Mix in egg yolks.
Min in 3 eggs, then 3 more when those first ones are all mixed in.
Pour it into the crust, and bake. Honest, at this point, I would just go right to 350 and cook it until the puffing has almost reached the center, maybe 30 minutes, then go down to 200 for like two hours. Cool very slowly once it's out of the oven - put a big bowl over it for a few hours until it's room temp, then stick it in the fridge for a few hours. The slow cooling is supposed to prevent it from cracking, but if it does crack (and mine did), it's still delicious cheesecake so who cares?