Sarah’s New York Style Cheesecake

I can’t remember the first thing I ever baked, but I do have memories of baking at my parents home in San Jose which we moved from when I was 7 1/2 years old.  I probably should mention that I was most likely helping my mom bake by licking the beaters and the bottom of the bowl, but I was baking none the less.  I don’t remember how it started, but I do remember that  my love for baking started very early.  I had a binder that I filled with recipes from my moms Good Housekeeping and Parent magazines.  I always wanted to try new things!  By the time I was in Jr High, I had been baking on my own for quite some time and I decided that I had grown from clipping my recipes and I wanted to have them all in a notebook like my mom had.  Hers was very plain but also very loved.  I remember looking at the words as they were carefully written, my mother’s handwriting, beautiful as always, and how the ink from the pen seemed to seep into the paper.  There were spills, tears, and a few burned marks, but I remember it was like a special treasury of recipes that were loved by her and her mom.  I copied some of her recipes into my new composition book that had Felix the Cat on it.  I do remember being mildly annoyed that it was Felix and why couldn’t I find a Mickey Mouse one… I still have and use this composition book and that annoyance is still there.  I have considered getting a different notebook altogether, maybe a pretty Rifle Paper Co one, or perhaps an actual recipe journal to write them in… But apart from how much work that could potentially be, a big part of me wants to have the cookbook I started when I was younger and that, like my mom’s, is becoming very loved and used.

When I first started my Fall series, I had a hard time deciding what types of posts I wanted to include.  The first of the series, I wrote about my favorite things about Fall (click here to read that post) and for the second in the series, I shared some of my favorite Fall books since reading is a favorite fall pastime (click here to see that post).  So for tonights post, I wanted to share a little about my love for baking and also share a recipe with you that will be perfect for the upcoming holidays!

I don’t remember the first time I baked a cheesecake all on my own, but it is a dessert that I have loved for a very long time.  I even made special heart shaped cheesecakes for Eli the day he proposed to me.  On account of the fact that it is the third recipe that is taped in my recipe book, I would say I probably baked one for the first time around the age of 12-13.  Over the years, this is still my go to cheesecake recipe, unless I’m making a chocolate or white chocolate cheesecake, in which I use the Eagle Brand recipe.  This recipe is from Kraft and came inside the cream cheese package. I tried to find it on their website, but they must have changed it over the years because there wasn’t the same one.  This recipe is very simple which is one of my favorite things about cheesecake!  There are so many possibilities!  If you don’t believe me, then clearly you’ve never been to The Cheesecake Factory in which case, you should go!!

Philadelphia New York Cheesecake

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 3 Tbs Sugar
  • 3 Tbs Melted Butter

For the Filling:

  • 2 1/2 lbs Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 Tbs Flour
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Sour Cream

While your butter is melting and your oven is preheating, it’s time to prepare your 9in Springform Pan for the water bath.  The water bath is what helps keep your cheesecake intact and prevents that pesky crack down the middle as it cools.  Until I was in college, I always covered the crack with cherry pie filling or fresh strawberries.  Then my uncle told me about the water bath method and how easy it was! So here is your cheesecake super weapon for baking a beautiful cheesecake!  And take the extra time to do it because it is so worth it!  Basically what you are going to do is cover the bottom of your springform pan with foil so that the water doesn’t leak inside and make your crust soggy!  Then you are going to get a sheet pan or a different bigger pan that your springform pan will sit on so you can fill it with water.  More on this later!

For this crust, I used half graham crackers and half gingersnaps to make it a more festive type cheesecake.  Some people like to substitute gingersnaps for all the grahams, but that’s up to you. I used my food processor to make my crumbs, but you can also use a blender or buy store bought graham cracker crumbs.  I think this way makes them more fresh tasting!  After you have your crumbs, mix them with the sugar and the melted butter and then press into the bottom of your pan.  Bake in a pre-heated, 350 degree oven for ten minutes.  Let cool while you make the filling!

For the filing, take your soften cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer or in a Kitchenaid stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth.  Then add your sugar, flour, and vanilla.  After it’s well combined, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl every now and then, add the eggs one at a time until just blended.  Finally, blend in the sour cream.  Then pour over the crust.

Remember that water bath I mentioned before?  Well now is when we prepare that!  Boil some water, and pour in the bigger pan so that there is about an inch all the way around.  This keeps moisture in the oven which makes the cheesecake bake evenly.  You can even do this after you’ve put the pan in the oven to make it a little easier to carry.

Bake for 65 minutes, or until the center is almost set.  It will still be a little jiggly when you pull it out, but that is ok because it will do the rest of the baking as it sets and cools.

Run a knife around the ring.  Once it is completely cool, you can remove the ring if you would like but I like to chill mine with the ring still attached.  Chill the cheesecake for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

I wanted to make a plain, New York style cheesecake, so I didn’t top mine, but you can drizzle melted chocolate over the top or use fresh fruit to make it look so pretty.  This cheesecake is very rich and creamy!! Also, if you want picture perfect pieces of cheesecake, run your knife under hot water and wipe off in between cuts!

To switch the recipe up, you can make an all gingersnap crust and substitute canned pumpkin for the sour cream and add 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp ground cloves to make a festive Pumpkin Cheesecake!  Make sure you have some whip cream to go along with it!

However you bake it, I hope you try this recipe or at least found it helpful!  If you do try it, make sure to instagram it and tag me so I can see!  This was a very fun post to create for you guys, obviously I am not a food photographer, but maybe someday I can write and photograph a copy of my favorite recipes!

Here’s to your holiday baking endeavors!  What’s your favorite holiday dessert??  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!



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destination wedding photographer sarah schweyer


Hi!  I’m Sarah!  Destination Wedding Photographer and Disney lover.  Follow along for more tips about wedding photography and getting the photos you’ve always dreamed of.   And click here to get my Free Engagement Session Guide to get the most out of your Engagement Session.

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  1. Irene Delgado says:

    What a wonderful post, Sarah Pie!! You have been such a blessing to me all your life and I am so proud of you and grateful that God let me have you for my daughter!
    I love the ginger snaps in the crust, by the way, and also like ground pecans in it, too!

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