The History Of The New York Cheesecake And How To Make It

The cheesecake may be a staple of every bakery today, but its history is more rich and varied than its modern popularity suggests. In fact, the cheesecake may be among some of the oldest desserts in history dating back all the way to Ancient Greece.

Around 4,000 years ago in the 5th century BC, those clever Greeks on the island of Samos whipped up the earliest cheesecake concoction. Picture this: patties of fresh cheese, a bit of flour, a drizzle of honey, and baked on an earthenware griddle. The birth of cheesecake. Back then, it wasn't just a tasty treat; it was like an energy bar for the athletes at the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. They even served it at weddings, making cheesecake the OG wedding dessert.

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Fast forward to medieval Europe, and cheesecake gets a makeover with a pastry base in tart form. In 1390, the first English cookbook hit the scene, boasting cheesecake recipes with eggs and various flavours. For the next five centuries, English cookbooks couldn't get enough of cheesecake, proving that the Brits had a sweet spot for the delectable dessert.

Not surprisingly, the love for cheesecake hopped across the pond to the American colonies. In the 1730s, Philadelphia proudly hosted the "Cheesecake House" tavern. Even Martha Washington, the first First Lady, had three cheesecake recipes up her sleeve, including one without a crust. Talk about cheesecake innovation! By the 19th century, folks were getting fancy, adding lemon and vanilla to their cheesecake creations.

Fast forward again to the 1930s in the good ol' USA, and things get a creamy makeover. Traditional curd cheese steps aside, and cream cheese takes the spotlight, giving birth to the New York cheesecake. Extra egg yolks make it extra smooth and extra delicious. Come the 1900s, New Yorkers were downright obsessed, and every eatery in the city offered some variation of this delightful dessert. Today, it's a cheesecake world, and we're just living in it – virtually every restaurant and eatery proudly presents its own twist on the timeless cheesecake. 


  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 600g cream cheese, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200g sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour


  • Preheat your oven to 160°C.
  • Crush the digestive biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. Mix the crumbs with melted butter, then press the mixture into the base of a springform cake tin. Chill in the fridge while preparing the filling.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the caster sugar and continue beating until well combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Gently fold in the sour cream and plain flour until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge and pour the cream cheese mixture over it.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 55-60 minutes or until the edges are set, and the center is slightly wobbly.
  • Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven with the door ajar, then transfer it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Once chilled, remove the cheesecake from the tin, slice, and serve. Optionally, you can add a topping of your choice, such as fruit compote or a dusting of icing sugar.