- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Grease a 9 × 5-inch (2 L) loaf pan and line only the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Place the loaf pan into a roasting pan with sides that are the same height or higher than the loaf pan.
- Warm the cream cheese, milk and butter over medium heat while whisking until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape this mixture into a large bowl. Whisk in 3 Tbsp (37 g) sugar, the lemon zest and vanilla by hand. Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks into this cream mixture (reserve the whites). Sift in the flour and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
- Using electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites at high speed until frothy. With the beaters still at high speed, pour in the remaining 6 Tbsp (75 g) sugar and continue to whip until a medium peak forms when the beaters are lifted (a gentle curl). Fold the whites into the cream cheese mixture in two additions—the batter will deflate a touch, but that is expected. Spread the batter into the loaf pan to level it.
- Fill the roasting pan with boiling water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the loaf pan (do this at the oven—it’s easier) and place the pan in the centre of the oven. Bake for 35 minutes and then turn down the oven to 300°F (150°C) and bake for another 35 minutes (see note). Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for another 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Completely cool the cheesecake in its pan on a cooling rack and then chill it for at least 2 hours in the pan before removing to slice. (Use a clean chef’s knife to slice the cake, wiping off the blade after each cut.) The cheesecake can keep, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to a day or refrigerated for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Keep an eye on the water level in your roasting pan as the loaf bakes, adding more water so it does not drop far below the halfway mark of the loaf pan. The water can evaporate since the cheesecake spends such a long time in the oven, and that would leave your cheesecake vulnerable to overbaking.
Don’t worry if a crack develops in the top of the loaf toward the end of the baking time. As the cake cools, it will contract and repair itself!
Recipe from Baking Day with Anna Olson, Appetite by Random House, 2020