What's holding you back from baking? Is it the myth that baking is fussy, that it's a precise science, that it's hard? Calm down already; it's not nuclear fusion, it's cake. And when you do it, at the end, there's cake.
I was very blocked about baking until I had kids, and suddenly bake sales were a thing in my life. I realized quickly that unless you're making your own croissants, it actually doesn't have to be difficult or intimidating. Even then, though, I resisted cheesecake. All that talk about water baths and how to keep the whole thing from cracking — I just couldn't be bothered to throw it into the rotation.
That all changed when I discovered the internet famous Basque cheesecake, an intensely flavored version of the American classic that's all the better for its relaxed technique and lo-fi look. I thought I'd found the easiest cheesecake possible. Then I found one even easier.
Want more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to Salon Food's newsletter.
What if I told you that you could make a cheesecake with just three ingredients and — hold on to your hat — zero measuring? Not even a boxed cake mix can do that.
Similar in spirit to the Japanese soufflé, or cotton, cheesecake but exponentially simpler, this is a recipe that will make you go, "Damn, did I just bake a cheesecake?" It only asks that you separate some eggs and allow a long oven time. You've got this, I swear.
Most recipes out there will tell you to bake this in a water bath, but I kind of hate doing them so I didn't and it was fine. Some recipes will use white chocolate instead of condensed milk, but then you'd have to measure and melt, so nope. I baked mine in a springform pan, but if you don't have one, you could probably get away with a regular cake pan.
This is not the eggy "gut bomb" Basque cheesecake, nor the super silky New York icon. This is an airy, subtle, not too sweet dessert that isn't trying to be its denser cousins, but that doesn't make it a compromise option. It's heavenly. For what it's worth, my picky eater teen daughter recently declared this her favorite cheesecake. You just might too.
Inspired by Patricia York and Southern Living
Makes 6 - 8 servings
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- Optional: Big pinch of sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Line a springform pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper or foil, so there's some overhang. Spray with cooking spray or lightly oil the paper. (I prefer the latter.) Put the pan on a baking sheet.
- Separate your eggs into two bowls. Your whites should go in a clean, dry, big bowl; you'll be beating them in it.
- In a large separate bowl, whip your cream cheese a minute or so until there are no lumps.
- Beat in your condensed milk, and then your egg yolks, until everything is well blended. Add a pinch of salt.
- In your other bowl and with clean, dry beaters, whip your egg whites until stiff and foamy.
- Fold half your egg white mixture into your cream cheese mixture, until blended, then gently fold in your other half.
- Pour your mixture into your springform pan.
- Bake about 45 minutes, until set but a little jiggly in the center. Turn off the oven and let cool another 45 minutes or so.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely. Remove cake from pan and refrigerate until serving. She's a dainty one, so you want a light but firm texture.
When ready to serve, dust generously with powdered sugar and top with fruit. (This would be very good with caramelized pineapple.) If you feel ambitious, you can stamp out your slices with a ring mold to make individual cheesecakes.
More Quick & Dirty:
- This riff on a classic Southern pie is comfort in a bite — and the leftovers taste great for breakfast
- French-inspired lentils are the easiest cure for your winter blues — and they're impossible to mess up
- The viral feta pasta dish everyone's raving about is even better without pasta
- A chocolate sandwich tastes exactly as comforting as it sounds — and it's sublime
Salon Food writes about stuff we think you'll like. Salon has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.