Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she’s dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.
I have vivid memories of my grandmothers drumming into my young head how difficult it was to make a proper cheesecake. For years, I was terrified of letting them down. I have spent the majority of my twenties learning – the hard way – that life is about trying new things and not taking yourself too seriously. And slowly but surely I have figured out that there is no wrong way to cook. You taste, and test, and fail and try something else…only to realize that no one was looking over your shoulder like you thought.
I have made plenty of unbaked, eggless versions of cheesecake before, but never have I taken the time to dig out my springform pan and try the real deal. This classic lemon recipe by Donna Hay was the perfect start for me. The lemon flavoring is my favorite and refreshing for summer. The remaining ingredients are unfussy and most likely already in your pantry.
Here’s to trying new things!
//CLASSIC LEMON CHEESECAKE
- 1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
- 11.5 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 4 eggs
- 1⅓ cups sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 1½ tablespoons water
- 1 cup whipping cream
Preheat oven to 300° F. Place the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and rub with your fingertips to form a rough dough. Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of a lightly greased 20cm round springform tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake the base for 30 minutes or until golden and just cooked. Set aside. To make the filling, place the cream cheese, ricotta, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and rind, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Place the cornflour and water in bowl and mix until smooth. Add the cornflour mixture to the cheese mixture and mix to combine. Pour over the cooked base and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until light golden and just set. Turn the oven off and allow to cool in the oven with the door closed. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold. Top with the cream to serve. Serves 8–10.