This is a basic, plain cheesecake, but it is amazing. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or with fresh sliced strawberries to make it extra special. A canned cherry or blueberry pie filling would make for a good topping as well.
2 lbs. cream cheese (4 8 ounce packages)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position in the oven and preheat oven to 350°.
Butter an 8” x 3” one-piece cheesecake pan all the way up to the rim. You will also need a larger pan (for hot water) to place the cake pan in while baking.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it is completely smooth, frequently stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Once the cream cheese is smooth, beat in the vanilla, almond extract, and the sugar. Mix the batter well and then add the eggs one at a time. Continue to mix until the eggs are just incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared cheesecake pan. Place the cheesecake pan into a larger pan. Place it in the oven and pour hot water into the larger pan, about 1 1/2” deep.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 1/2 hours. The top of the cheesecake will be golden-brown, but will still be soft inside. It will firm up once it has cooled and been refrigerated.
Lift the cheesecake pan out of the water and place it on a rack. Cool the cheesecake in the pan for at least 2 hours. (Do not cool it in the refrigerator or the cheesecake will stick to the pan.)
Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place a flat plate or small board upside down over the pan and turn the pan and the plate or board upside down. Carefully remove the pan.
Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom of the cake. Gently place the serving plate upside down over the cake and carefully invert again (be careful not to smush the cake), leaving the cake right side up. Remove the plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.
Hint: It’s easier to cut the cheesecake if you dip a sharp knife in very hot water before making each cut.