YouTube star Andrew Rea, known for his wildly popular channel Babish Culinary Universe, has released a new cookbook and his millions of followers will rejoice! Basics with Babish has over 100 easy-to-follow recipes that take the guesswork out of cooking and baking, no matter what level you are. A perfect example? This basic (but thoroughly delicious!) cheesecake recipe. This is what he has to say about it:
As a New Yorker (that I was born and raised in Western NY is a mere technicality), while there are apparently other styles of cheesecake, New York is obviously my favorite. Its towering form factor, ultra-smoothness, and dappled crown make it every bit as pleasurable to eat as it is to watch a fork cascade through its cumulus texture. We spice up our crust a bit for some unexpected mouth pleasures, opt for buttermilk over the usual sour cream, and add a hint of cornstarch for custard stability. Okay, so it’s delicious and this is a solid recipe, standard headnote stuff—but I have an unfortunate question to pose… Is cheesecake a pie?
I mean we’re talking about graham cracker crust, custard-only filling—do you know many cakes like that? Sugar is very nearly the only ingredient separating this thing from qualifying as a quiche. Now, I’m not suggesting anything so radical or upsetting as renaming cheesecake to cheesepie (or dessert quiche?). Just encouraging you to question your universe.
Serves 8 to 10
- 325 grams graham cracker crumbs
- 125 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 35 grams sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 200 grams sugar
- 20 grams cornstarch
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 75 grams buttermilk, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Make the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and nutmeg.
- Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan and press into the bottom and up the sides using the bottom of a measuring cup or ramekin. The bottom and sides of the pan should be covered in an even, thin (1/8-inch) layer of crust.
- Bake until the crust is firm and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the crust cool to room temperature.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
Prepare the Cheesecake Batter
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch and set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar mixture, and buttermilk. Mix on medium speed until completely smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, then add the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Mix again on medium speed until just combined, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and give it a slight tap on the counter to pop any bubbles.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 150°F (the center will still be quite wobbly).
- Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the still-warm oven for 1 hour.
- Open the oven door and allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.
- Transfer the cheesecake to the fridge to chill overnight.
- Remove the cake from the springform pan and serve. Optionally, allow the cheesecake to sit out at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes for optimal texture.
How I’ve Screwed This Up
Famously, I improperly secured a springform pan when making tiramisu, sending my work plummeting to the floor with nothing but an aluminum ring in my hapless hands. I have, however, made the exact same mistake with cheesecake, resulting in a significantly messier and more frustrating cleanup. Make sure your springform is secure, and always grip it by the bottom!
MY CHEESECAKE CRACKED. Much like pumpkin pie, cracks form in cheesecake when the custard is
shocked by the shockingly low temperature outside the oven. It might not rupture if you pull it at the exact right moment, but that’s incredibly hard to nail—instead, crack the oven door and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven entirely.
MY CHEESECAKE IS DENSE. New York–style is supposed to be pretty dense, but if it’s more crumbly-dense, then we’re looking at an overbaked cheesecake.
CAN I USE MASCARPONE? You could, but add a splash of lemon if you want to imitate its signature tang—or try a 50/50 ratio of cream cheese and mascarpone.
CAN I USE RICOTTA? While ricotta cheesecake might sound nice, in my experience it’s created a grainer texture, without cream cheese’s familiar flavor.
CAN I USE YELLOW AMERICAN? Obviously, yes, you can.
Excerpted from BASICS WITH BABISH: Recipes for Screwing Up, Trying Again, and Hitting It Out of the Park. Copyright @ 2023 by Andrew Rea. Photography Copyright © 2023 by Evan Sung. Reproduced by permission of Simon Element, and imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.