As the name implies, the recipe for Junior’s famous original cheesecake has been baked the very same way since the 1950s. And for good reason. It’s simply The Best cheesecake you can find. “There will never be a better cheesecake than the cheesecake they serve as Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue… it’s the best cheesecake in New York,” wrote Ron Rosenblum (Village Voice, July 26, 1973).
Preheat oven to 475°F. Place a large pan filled with 1/2 inch water in oven.
Make crust: Mix graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon; add margarine. Press crust onto bottom and 2/3 of the way up a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment. Wrap a large piece of foil around bottom of pan. Freeze until filling is prepared.
Make filling: Use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl. Whisk eggs in a bowl; add to cream cheese mixture. Blend just until eggs are incorporated.
Bring a medium saucepan or kettle of water to a boil. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don’t pull the rack out of the oven). Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes—the outside of the cake will set but the center will still be loose.
For the topping: Stir together the sour cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Spread over the top of the cooked cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off, cook the cheesecake in the residual heat in the oven for about1 hour. This gentle finish minimizes the risk of the dreaded crack in your cheesecake.
Remove cheesecake from the roasting pan to a rack. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Remove the ring form. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece. Serve with berries, if desired.
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch fine salt
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups sour cream
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract