I don't use a graham cracker crust in my cheesecakes. I used to live around the corner from the Turf Cheesecake shop, they didn't use the crust and I prefer it that way. You can add one to the baking pan before adding the filling, if you insist.
2-1/2 pounds PHILADELPHIA brand cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
6 large eggs
optional 3 tablespoons plain flour
Mixer - You really need to use a stand mixer for this - preferably a kitchen-aid type. Needs must, a hand held will do. But you can't make this with a wisk and spoon. Unless you're crazy.
10 in. springform pan
Pre-heat oven to 500 F (yes, really! If your oven doesn't go this high, then the top temp available and you'll have to cross your fingers)
Assemble all ingredients.
Butter bottom and sides of the springform pan. (I prefer unsalted butter)
Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and place the pieces into work bowl of a standing mixer. Beat the cheese on low until smooth, about two or three minutes. It may be easier to beat half the cream cheese first, followed by the second half. Once the cheese is smooth, add the salt and about a third of the sugar. Beat until integrated and scrape down the sides. Add another third of the sugar and continue to mix until the sugar is mixed in. Then add the final third of sugar and mix in. Optionally, three tablespoons of flour can be added with the sugar to help add a bit of stability to the cake. Adding flour will not affect the taste or texture of the cake, but will reduce the likelihood of a cracked cake. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix.
Scrape the sides down and add the heavy cream. The cheese should be much easier to work with at this point.
Add the egg yolks and mix until they are blended in.
Now add three whole eggs and mix until the eggs have been completely mixed into the filling. Scrape down the sides and beat in the final three eggs. Now, pour the filling into the springform pan. A 10-inch pan should fill up to almost its rim with this filling. Lift the pan an inch or two above your counter or cutting board and drop it to bring any bubbles trapped inside to the surface. Place the springform pan onto a sheetpan (for easy handling and safety), and slide into the middle of an oven preheated to 500°F.
After ten minutes, reduce the temperature to 200°F and allow the cheesecake to bake as the oven gradually reduces temperature (do not open the oven door). Bake the cheesecake until the center of the cake registers as 150°F (making sure it does not exceed 160°F), about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Feel free to use an instant read thermometer in the center of the cake - a slightly blemish is worth a perfect cake. Note: When baking the example cheesecake, I kept the cake at 500°F for only five minutes (thinking that the convection oven would keep the temperature higher for longer). Notice that the edges of the cake had begun to brown, but the whole surface of the cake is still a light shade. This cake resulted in the texture and taste of a New York style cheesecake, but failed to achieve the look. Remember to keep baking at 500°F for the full ten minutes.
The cake will not fully set until fully chilled, but the cooling process should be gradual. First remove the cake from the oven and onto a cooling rack. After about ten minutes, run a paring knife along the rim of the cake to release it from the walls of the pan. This will reduce the risk of cracking as the cake contracts and tries to pull away from the walls of the pan.
After about two to three hours of cooling, wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and place the cake into the refrigerator to chill for at least five hours. remove the springform sides and serve.
If you must, you can serve this topped with a fruit sauce - I suggest keep it simple. Strawberries or blueberries briefly cooked with a bit of sugar and cornstarch. You can splash in some liquer to be fancy. Cool and spoon over the cake or spoon over individual serving slices of cake.