Perfect Cheesecake

READY IN: 25hrs




  • *Crust*.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine flour, graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and mix until an even crumbly texture.
  • Press crust into a lightly greased 10-inch springform pan, pressing up the sides a bit.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
  • *Filling*.
  • Cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Gradually add sugar, again scraping sides often. Add in flour, scraped seeds from vanilla bean, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt and mix well.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and again, scraping sides.
  • Scrape filling into springform pan. Place into a baking pan with edges, and fill pan with boiling water 1 inch up the sides.
  • Bake cheesecake for 90 minutes with the oven door cracked open slightly. Allow cake to sit at room temperature for an hour before chilling. It is essential to chill overnight.
  • Gently run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake before removing springform ring. Cheesecakes cut best with a hot, dry knife.
  • *Sugared Lemon Zest*.
  • Slice off the top and tail of the lemons and score the lemons lengthwise about five times. Pull the scored peel off the lemons, as if peeling an orange. Julienne the peel segments (slice thinly lengthwise).
  • Blanch the peel in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes and drain (this cooks out the bitterness). Return zest to pot with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup boiling water and simmer until zest appears translucent, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain well (you can reserve the syrup to poach fruits or brush onto a lemon loaf). Spread zest onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry for a few hours (4-6). Toss zest with remaining 1/4 cup sugar to coat. Zest will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  • *Sugared Pansies*.
  • Whisk egg white until foamy, but not fully whipped.
  • Brush or dip flowers with egg white delicately and dip into sugar. Set on a baking pan to dry. Flowers should last a few days in an airtight container.
  • *To Assemble*.
  • Arrange sugared zest around outside edge of cheesecake and dot top with sugared pansies.