Ina Fridays — Desserts — Classic Cheesecake for the Fourth of July


The first Friday of the month, I group-blog Ina Garten recipes with a great group of writer cooks. Scroll down for more info and to click on the links for more desserts.  Come back August 1 for Ina Fridays appetizers!

I’m a glutton for making cheesecake.  One cheesecake, actually.  If your husband was as crazy about one particular cheesecake as is mine, you’d make it, too.  If you were crazy about your husband, that is.  And I am.  That’s not to say he doesn’t drive me out of my mind occasionally; he does.  Did this last Monday, in fact. (Insert huge scream and multiple #$*%7## words.)  But if God is good — and God is good, for us, anyway — I always seem to get past the odd supremely irritated moment (hour, week) and fall back in love with him.  Or at least stay in the house.

621f4-img_02081 Here’s the sweet couple loving it up on vacation last year.  We never fight on vacation, though there’s the occasional morning where I say, “I’m going to pool.  I’ll see you at lunch.”  I don’t swim.  (Not anymore, anyway.)


(above:  Alyce’s Turtle Cheesecake.  Recipe HERE.)

Once in a great while, I make a different cheesecake.  For someone else. Like our son.  The hub can hardly stand it.  “What’s THAT?”  Then he’ll break down and have a bite and lower his voice to allow that it’s not that it’s bahhhhd, it’s just not HIS cheesecake.  His cheesecake is, has been, always will be  Pagliacci’s New York Cheesecake.  No toppings.  Not even a tiny fresh strawberry. Plain.  Just like it was born.  Now lest you think I’ve used a NY recipe all these years, I’ll put your mind at rest.  Pagliacci’s is a restaurant in Victoria, British Columbia.  And they make incredible cheesecake.  Read my post about it HERE.  And I’m embarrassed enough to say that the one time I went to Victoria, BC, I had time for a horse and buggy tour and never made it to Pagliacci’s.  I guess I’ll have to go back.

Ina’s Classic Cheesecake resembles Pagliacci’s NY Cheesecake.  Somewhat.  There are a few differences.

  • This cheesecake contains sour cream in the cake and in a topping.  No sour cream or topping allowed at Pagliacci’s.
  • This cheesecake crust gets baked before the filling is added.  No pre-baking at Pagliacci’s. (Just chilling.)
  • This cheesecake uses vanilla paste.  No vanilla paste at Pagliacci’s; plain old vanilla extract works for them.
  • This cheesecake is a bit sweet.  You guessed it:  Pagliacci’s is not too sweet.  In fact, it’s a tad savory.
  • This cheesecake is flavored with orange and lemon zest.  Pagliacci’s relies on lemon juice, vanilla and the great cream cheese.
  • This cheesecake relies on 2 pounds of cream cheese plus a generous amount of sour cream.  Pagliacci’s uses 2.5 and a 1/4 cup of heavy cream.
  • This cheesecake is baked very differently than and twice as long as any I’ve made before.  (See below.)  Of course, I’ve mostly made…well, you know.


You can imagine what went on in my kitchen when an Ina recipe went up on the cabinet the day before his birthday.

I continued.  I baked.  I stuck my finger in and tasted.

He stayed in his office until it was time to go to the ballgame.  He didn’t mention the cake cooling in the cupboard.


(We have dogs.)


He did, however, later that night — in bed — say, “You know the house smelled wonderfully good all day long.”  I do love him.

And while it was difficult to imagine us eating a different cake (well, him anyway), the cake was…well, it was luscious.  A bit lighter, somewhat smoother, sweeter, more conducive to a topping–maybe–, and pretty much a cake slider.  I mean, really:   did you ever meet a cheesecake you wouldn’t eat???  With his head to one side thoughtfully, he gave me this, “It is a good cheesecake.”  I knew what he meant.  I thought so too.

Here are a few pics from the experiment:

You can figure out or picture how a cake comes together, right? So I didn’t photograph it.  But this one goes in the oven in a bain marie.  The gentle heat of the water keeps the cake from cracking. This particular cake has no flour in the filling, though the crust is made from graham crackers and so has graham flour.


After the cake is baked for the first time, it comes out–remains in the bain marie — and is topped with a mixture of sour cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla:

IMG_6072It is then returned to the oven for five minutes.  The heat is turned off; the cake sits for an hour to gentle finish baking.  Mine stayed in nearly two because Dave forgot to take it out, despite my frantic text from lectionary study.  It was all ok.
It then cools on a rack as you saw above.  You then try to take a great photo of it.  Et voila, you either do or your don’t!



While you might have your own favorite cheesecake recipe, try Ina’s sometime.  Recipe HERE.  The big secret is this:  cheesecake is probably the easiest cake to bake.  It’s nearly no-fail.  It might fall apart, have a crack, need a spoonful of whipped cream or blueberries, but it will indeed eat.  And people will be happy to have it.  Don’t go to the Cheesecake Factory, ok? Just buy yourself a 9-inch springform pan, invest in Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and get baking.
By the way, before another Ina Friday rolls around, The Hub and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  Raise a glass to us on Bastille Day, July 14.
Want to see and hear Ina in person?  Check out her tour schedule here.  I’ve bought my tickets!
Preorder her new book, MAKE IT AHEAD, here.
Bake Ina’s flag cake here.
Best cheesecake in NY taste contest?  Read all about it here.  It’s worth a click.


This month we have desserts but next month — on Friday, August 1, 2014 –we have gorgeous summer appetizers. Mark your calendar and plan on visiting and cooking up lots of sweet somethings.  September 5 will be Soups, Salads, and Sides.

Stop in this Friday or beyond  and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up.  All writers will not participate every month, but check out the blogs anyway.  If you’d like to participate on a monthly basis, email me at   If you’d like to join in occasionally, just follow the prompt for the “linky” or blog hop and add your post – Ina Garten recipes only, please.

Hey, my new book is out! Thanks for your patience! You can get it HERE!  Or check out the last couple of posts on this blog.  If you’re among the first to send pics of cooking a book recipe listed there, I might send you a free copy!  (Bloggers–feel free to cook and post, of course.)

Soup Book-Cover final

Sing a new song,



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11 thoughts on “Ina Fridays — Desserts — Classic Cheesecake for the Fourth of July

  1. Loved your post! I am not a cheesecake fan myself but i make a really good one for guests and my family. Yours looks beautiful as does everything you make! Have a nice holiday!

  2. Peggy, It’s not my very favorite either — I’m a chocoholic–but I manage to choke down a little piece now and again. Thanks for your kind words. I think I have an idyllic setting for photos on my back deck. Happy 4th!

  3. Was he disappointed that he didn’t get his favorite cheesecake? How funny is this, my mother insisted my entire life that men don’t really like desserts, especially girly ones like cheesecake. My husband LOVES cheesecake (it’s his favorite food), and his dad and brother both love it and all other desserts. They’re more fond of sweets than I am! Nice to come along another guy who loves cheesecake, too. My mother was so wrong!

  4. That looks awesome, Alyce! Love cheesecakes! Sorry I didn’t post an Ina dessert for July, (although I did one a week ago and posted it on our Pinterest board.) but I’ll be back on board for appetizers.

  5. Pingback: Frozen Vanilla Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries for the 4th of July | More Time at the Table

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