A Taste of Home: Classic Italian Cheesecake

My mother’s family is Italian and if there is one thing that is always on the table for the holidays it is the cheesecake from my great grandmother’s recipe. It is also a terrible but quirky tradition that anyone that gives out the recipe to friends should leave out one special ingredient so they can keep their cheesecake unique and the recipe itself can be improved upon.

So naturally following family tradition I will be leaving out one ingredient/technique from my recipe. Don’t worry you’ll still get a good cheesecake out of it.

I like to say that the process for this cheesecake from raw to ready is 8 hours.

Official time is about 2 hours though. It will become apparent as we go through the motions.


What you need (In Order of Appearance):

  • 1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs ( You can use vanilla wafers, or oreos, etc.)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 4 Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 1/4 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Whipping Cream (Aka Heavy Cream)
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tsp. Grated Lemon Zest
  • 5 Eggs, cracked one at a time

PREHEAT oven to 350F if using a silver 9in springform pan (or 325F if using a dark nonstick 9in springform pan). Spray pan with cooking spray or oil the pan, especially the sides. This is very important. You will be using the spray to stick the crust to the pan to form a mold to hold the batter but also forms a barrier between the cake and the side of the pan so hen you release the pan nothing comes off your beautiful, fragile cheesecake.

MIX crumbs, butter, and 2 Tbsp sugar. Press firmly onto bottom and sides of the pan. I always start on the sides and work my way to the base. Bake 10 minutes.

MEANWHILE, beat ricotta cheese (* for about 10 minutes until very light*) Then, add, 1 1/4 cups sugar and flour in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add whipping cream, vanilla and zest; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until blended after each addition. Pour over crust.

Place a pan of water on the lower rack under the cake pan so it will steam the cake while it bakes. 

BAKE approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the top of the cake begins to turn light golden brown.  Turn off the oven but DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR.  AFTER ABOUT 30 MINUTES OR SO, OPEN THE OVEN DOOR JUST A CRACK.

After another 30 minutes or so, open it a little more and after 30 minutes open door and let the cake cool in the oven. If you take it out too early, it might fall. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan.

REFRIGERATE 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Now this process may seem paranoid or may not have much sense to it but you’ll have a very nice and fluffy cheesecake as your result. There is a method to the madness. Also when it is humid out the cake doesn’t seem to rise as much and will be denser.


One thought on “A Taste of Home: Classic Italian Cheesecake”

  1. Oh don’t say it’s a terrible tradition! I love that you’re supposed to leave out the ingredient – it makes for a great story when a friend masters it or completely ruins it haha


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