Cheesecake to die for

The time honored recipe given to me by my friend Hope Farber

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: medium
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Everyone has a favorite cheesecake. Mine is the simple plain cheesecake with a minimal crust and without swirls or knobs or pieces in it. Just a creamy, lemony lightness is what I like best. This recipe was typed on an index card and given to me years ago by Hope Farber who worked in the library at Earlham College, my alma mater. Evan and Hope Farber was the loveliest of couples. They were educators, mentors, and friends to generations of college students. Libraries in this country are still filled with librarians who were inspired by Evan.

 Cheesecake Hope Farber

After nearly a decade, I dusted off this recipe, and my daughter and I made it together without using a processor or a mixer. Just a trusty stainless whisk was sufficient. Over mixing and aeration can be a problem so this is a good way to do it if you have the patience. All you have to do is ensure that all the ingredients sit out on the counter for a few hours and are all at room temperature. First mix in the soft cheeses and sour-cream and add the eggs at the end. The silky-smooth creaminess is well worth the effort.


  • 3 large eggs whipped extremely well
  • 3 – 8oz slabs of full fat cream cheese
  • 8 oz  mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

The Crust (optional)

  • 6 oz of melted butter
  • ten graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar


  1. Crush the graham crackers by hand or in a blender and mix with the sugar. Then pour in the melted butter and mix till you have a grainy texture.  This mixture can be directly spread into the bottom of your 9/10 inch springform pan and evenly pressed down. You may like to bring it up a 1/4 inch around the edges.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 (F) and bake the crust for 8-9 minutes and remove from the oven
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs till they are smooth and lemony yellow without any of the egg-white threads.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese, mascarpone, and the sour cream, slowly adding the sugar, then the eggs followed by the vanilla and lemon juice and zest. Mix evenly till smooth.  (Remember the importance of having all the ingredients at room temperature.
  5. Carefully and slowly pour the mixture into the pan over the crust. (you may wish to ladle some of it first so the crust mixture doesn’t get pushed to the sides.
  6. Place the springform pan on a large sheet of aluminum foil to come up the sides (this will keep the water bath from leaking into the cake)  and place the pan with the foil in a 1-inch water bath. Make sure the water is boiling hot. A large skillet or roasting pan will suffice.
  7. Bake for 1 hour at 350 (F).  An extra 10 -15 min may be required if your pan/shelf is low in the oven.
  8. Turn off the oven, crack the door open and allow the cheesecake to cool slowly for at least an hour to ensure it doesn’t crack
  9. Remove from oven and water bath and place on the counter to continue cooling for another hour or two and then refrigerate to chill overnight.
  10. Serve plain or with your favorite toppings.

My favorite topping is orange marmalade with a bit of lemon or lime zest and a dash of lime juice and a splash of bourbon.  Raspberry coulis is another nice choice.