I have searched long and hard for a good cheesecake recipe. There are many great recipes out there, but I wanted one that would produce a down-to-earth yet rich and smooth cheesecake. And it had to be fool-proof so I could be sure that I would be able to get a good cheesecake every time. The cake also should be versatile so I could add fruit or any other filling if I want. Not a lot to ask for, huh? There are a few recipes that I liked, so I combined the "best" parts of these recipes and came up with this particular recipe that I really like. I think I have finally found my prefect cheesecake. Our friends, Arthur and Margaret, came over for dinner the other night with their son, Sebastian, and Arthur is a huge cheesecake fan. I mean, I don't think I have seen anyone eat more cheesecake in a single sitting. But hey, when he requested for cheesecake for dessert, I was more than happy to make it for him because I love the cake too! Apart from the fact that cheesecakes are really easy to make (and that they taste so darn good), they have to be made a day in advance, which means that you have more time to cook whatever else that is in the menu on the day of the dinner party! To make the cheesecake, I started by blitzing the graham crackers in a food processor. I always use my food processor to make cheesecakes. If you don't have a one, you can place the crackers in a tea towel and bash them with a rolling pin and make the filling in a cake mixer. I added the butter and vanilla extract and blitzed again until I had what resembled coarse breadcrumbs. I poured this on to a greased and lined Springform pan. And pressed the crumbs down firmly with a cup. You can use anything that is handy and has a flat base. This was placed in the fridge to set. In the meantime, I made the filling by blitzing the cream cheese for 3-4 minutes until it was soft and fluffy. Into this, I added sugar, and blitzed some more. While that happened, I zested a lemon and juiced it. I used the juice of the entire lemon because I like my cheesecake slightly tart. If you prefer it to be less sour, then reduce the amount of juice added. The eggs were added (one at a time) to the cream cheese mixture, and mixed. This was followed by the lemon zest and juice. Once everything was well-combined, the filling was ready. This was poured into the Springform pan. I wrapped the bottom of the pan with heavy duty aluminium foil, then placed it into a roasting pan. I poured hot water into the roasting pan, then baked the cake. When the cake was baked, I propped the oven door open with a wooden spoon and left the cake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Baking the cheesecake in a ban marie (ie, water bath) ensures an even temperature while baking. I believe that this prevents cracks from forming on the cake. Leaving the cake in the oven for a while after it has finished baking means that the cake is not subjected to a sudden change in temperature and I have noticed that this means that the cake tends not to shrink so much. To make the topping, I whisked together sour cream, vanilla bean paste (or the seeds of a vanilla pod) and sugar. I carefully poured this on the cake, and spread it evenly with a spatula. This was then placed back into the oven and baked for another 10 minutes. (You do not need to use a water bath for this step.) When baked, the cake was cooled and placed into the fridge to chill over night. I served the cake with raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries. But you can add any toppings or fruit that you like. It really is the perfect cheesecake. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM :) A CELEBRATORY GIVEAWAY! To celebrate winning The Best Cooking Blog at in this year's Singapore Blog Awards, I am giving away a set of Philips Jaime Oliver Stick Blender. Set includes hand blender, chopper and whisk. "The new Philips Jamie Oliver hand blender features a strong 650W motor with a simple "on / off" button as well as a turbo button, ensuring that busy families can enjoy fresh, healthy food every night of the week. The compact chopper stands sturdy on any kitchen counter and is useful when chopping smaller quantities of onions, herbs or cheese. Homemade pesto and salsas are also really simple to make and add a completely fresh touch to your meals. It also includes a whisk that attaches easily to your hand blender top. It is useful when preparing fluffy whipped cream and homemade mayonnaise. The innovative ProMix technology represents the ultimate in speed and efficacy, to deliver only the finest and evenly cut results. The 1.0L beaker with lid keeps smoothies and batters fresh and is really useful when preparing homemade sauces, pancake batters or smoothies with your hand blender. If you don't finish the batch in one go, pop on the lid and keep it in the fridge for later. It couldn't be easier!" To take part in the giveaway, simply click on the icon below! RECIPE Perfect Lemon Cheesecake (Serves 10-12) Ingredients: For the cheesecake: 30 graham crackers 1/4 cup (56.5g) unsalted butter, melted 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract 24oz (750g) cream cheese, at room temperature 5 large eggs, at room temperature 3/4 cup (150g) caster sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt Zest and juice of one lemon (Reduce this to 1/2 lemon if you prefer this to be less tart) For the topping: 14 oz (400 g) sour cream, at room temperature 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla bean paste, or the seeds from one vanilla bean 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar For the raspberry coulis: Adapted from Emeril Lagasse 350g raspberries (fresh) 1/8 cup (25g) caster sugar 1/2 (7.5ml) tablespoon lemon juice Method: 1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Line and grease a 9-inch Springform pan. 2. Blitz or crush the graham crackers. Add melted butter and vanilla extract, blitz or stir to combine. 3. Pour the crumbs into the pan. Use a cup to press crumbs tightly onto the base and sides of the pan. Chill in fridge. 4. Soften cream cheese by blitzing in the food processor for about 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can beat using the paddle attachment of the cake mixer. 5. Add sugar and salt and mix. 6. Add eggs, one at a time and blitz to combine. Add lemon zest and juice. Make sure the mixture is well-combined. 7. Pour mixture into pan. Wrap the pan in heavy duty aluminium foil (use 2 layers of foil if it is not heavy duty) and place the Springform pan in a roasting pan. 8. Pour hot water (enough to come up to half way up the pan) and bake in oven for 45 minutes. After this time, turn off the oven, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and leave the cake in the oven for 30 minutes. 9. Make the topping by whisking together sour cream, vanilla bean paste and sugar. Remove foil, pour over the cake and use a spatula to smooth the top. 10. Bake at 160°C (325°F) for 10 minutes. 11. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack then place in fridge to chill over night. 12. Make the raspberry coulis by combining raspberries and sugar in a saucepan. Cook until raspberries are broken down, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain to remove the seeds. Chill before using. 13. Serve the cake as it is, or with whipped cream and/or fruit. If you like, you can also drizzle chocolate sauce over the cake.