Laurie Barone-Schaefer, a freelance photographer, lives in Sag Harbor with her husband and three sons.
How long have you and your dad been baking together?
I’ve been in the kitchen ever since I was a little girl. My dad loved to bake and my mom was the cook. So I got the best of both worlds. My mom would always make a traditional Italian meal on Sundays—meatballs, sauce, sausage, braciole, pasta. There was a home-cooked meal every night. My dad would do some traditional things for the holidays. During Christmas he makes Buccellati cookies, with figs, nuts, chocolate, and honey. The recipe was handed down to him from his great-grandmother and he still keeps the tradition going. He had a custom-made pasta board that he’d put on the dining room table for homemade pasta to dry.
Do you cook and bake with your own children?
My sons are 14, 10, and 8. They do have an interest. They definitely have a taste for good food. They’ll help me make homemade bread, pasta. They love Easter bread. That’s my middle one’s favorite. Every once in a while I’ll surprise him and make it even if it’s not Easter. The expression on his face when he sees it, that’s what it’s all about.
You’re a photographer. Are aesthetics important?
I combine cooking and photography, and it can be dangerous sometimes. I’ll take pictures of my creations and post them on Facebook and people will ask me for some. I’ll wind up packing up dishes and bringing them to friends around town. My joy is seeing other people enjoy what I create.
Tell me about this recipe.
My father has been making cheesecakes for as long as I can remember. Whenever we have a holiday I call on Dad. I’m one of three siblings and we all request it. There are some different variations that he makes. Sometimes my brother will have caramel-cashew. Sometimes we put raspberry sauce or sour cream topping on top. That’s where the presentation comes in and I like to use my creativity. But the base is the recipe from dad.
Any tips for success?
Definitely use a water bath to bake it in, but most of all have fun and enjoy the time with whomever you’re making it with. It’s not about perfection, it’s about having a good time together.
For the crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
For the filling:
32 ounces cream cheese, softened
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
For the topping:
1 1⁄2 cups sour cream
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg yolk. With a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients. Pat evenly into a 9-inch springform pan.
3. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil.
4. Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, salt, and vanilla until smooth, about 4 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar. Turn up to high and beat for an additional minute. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream and then the heavy cream. Beat on high for 1 minute.
5. Pour into the prepared pan. Place the pan inside a large roasting pan, place in the oven, and pour boiling water into the pan so it goes up the sides of the cake about 1 inch. Bake until just set around the edges and a little jiggly in the center, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. If you like extra-firm cheesecake, continue baking for an additional 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, crack the door open slightly, and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
6. Lift the cheesecake from the roasting pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
7. Make the topping: Whisk together the sour cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean paste until smooth. Unmold the cheesecake and spread the topping over the cake.
Makes 10 servings.