You (yes you!) can master how to make Vanilla Cheesecake from scratch. Start with a graham cracker crust, then top and bake the crack-free Vanilla Cheesecake filling for a show-stopping dessert recipe you'll make again and again.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, blender, or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, finely crush graham crackers (you will have about 1 1/2 cups crumbs).
In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crust evenly and firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
To make the filling:
In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, flour, and salt until very smooth and fluffy. Scrap the sides of the bowl frequently.
Add the sugar, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour filling into prepared crust and smooth the top.
Bake until the filling is set but the center jiggles slightly and the edges are slightly puffed, about 60 to 75 minutes. The filling will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack to room temperature, then cover and chill until cold (overnight is best).
Unclasp and remove the sides of the springform pan, then run a long, thin spatula between the bottom of the pan and the crust to loosen. Slide the cake on to a serving platter.
Using a thin-bladed knife, cut the cake into slices, dipping the knife into hot water and wiping dry before each cut. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired.
Graham crackers: Honey-flavored, cinnamon, or even chocolate graham crackers all work well. If graham crackers aren’t available in your part of the world, you can substitute 1 ½ cups crushed digestive biscuits (9 sheets of graham crackers yields about 1 ½ cups of crumbs).
Sugar: Or substitute 2 tablespoons brown sugar or omit sugar from the crust entirely.
Cream cheese: You'll want four 8-ounce blocks of plain, full-fat cream cheese for this homemade cheesecake recipe. Slice into cubes to speed up their softening time; room temperature is best to ensure clump-free Vanilla Cheesecake filling.
Sour cream: A 1/2 cup is all you need for just enough tang to balance out the sugar in the filling. Again, full fat is my top pick for the best flavor and texture.
Yield: This Vanilla Cheesecake recipe makes 12 slices of rich, silky cheesecake (you can cut them bigger or smaller as desired!).
Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make ahead: After baking, cool the Vanilla Cheesecake completely and then store covered (or wrapped in plastic) in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance.
Freezer: While the cheesecake filling is best prepared just before baking, you can freeze the prepared crust up to 3 months in advance. Thaw before using.