Matt Adlard provided a simple, two-tiered approach to help people improve their baking skills with his new book, “Bake it Better.” He demonstrated for Maggie and Farron how easy it is to make a delicious New York-style vanilla cheesecake with the following recipe:

Ingredients for the filling-

  • 170g granulated/caster sugar
  • 40g all-purpose/plain flour
  • 900g full-fat cream cheese, cold
  • 100g sour cream, cold
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean pod or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 100g whole eggs
  • 310g heavy/double cream, cold

Ingredients for the base-

  • 140g graham crackers/digestive biscuits
  • 2g lemon zest
  • 70g unsalted butter, melted

Special equipment-

  • 10-inch (25cm) cake pan with a removable base
  • Blender
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment


  1. Preheat the oven to 320°F/160°C. Lightly grease the bottom of a 10-inch (25cm) cake pan with a removable base. Place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. Wrap the entire pan with aluminum wrap (I use heavy-duty foil because it’s much larger and means there are no overlapping gaps where water can seep in).
  2. To make the base, in a blender, blend the crackers/biscuits at a medium speed until they reach a fine crumb, ensuring there are no large lumps. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and stir in the lemon zest.
  3. Add 80% of the melted butter to the crumb mixture, stirring with a spatula. Add the remaining butter until the mixture resembles slightly wet sand. Be careful not to make it soggy.
  4. Add the biscuit mixture to the prepared pan. Use a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to smooth the mixture until perfectly even. 
  5. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the base to cool. 
  6. To make the filling, in a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together the sugar and flour until no lumps remain.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar mixture. Use a knife to split the vanilla bean pod lengthways and scrape out the beans. Add the beans to the bowl and mix on low speed for 2 minutes or until no lumps of flour remain, scraping down the sides if needed. 
  8. Slowly add the eggs and continue to mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until everything has been incorporated. 
  9. Add the cream and mix for 1 minute more. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the bottom with a spatula to loosen any lumps. Return the bowl to the mixer and mix on low speed for 1 minute more or until the mixture is very smooth and lump-free. The key is to avoid adding too many air bubbles because these can cause the cheesecake to crack, so be careful not to mix too vigorously. 
  10. Place the cake pan in a deep roasting tray and place the tray in the oven. Carefully pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the biscuit base. Fill the roasting tray with boiling water until the water comes up about one-third of the side of the cake pan.
  11. Bake the cheesecake for 80 minutes. The cheesecake is done when there’s a wobble in the center, about 3-inches (8cm) in diameter, when you gently shake the tray. It might seem like the cheesecake is undercooked, but residual heat will finish the cooking and this is the key to a velvety-smooth texture.
  12. Remove the tray from the oven and remove the cake pan from the water bath. With the foil still attached to the pan, allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature for 2 hours. Remove the foil and refrigerate uncovered overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours.
  13. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan and use a warm palette knife to smooth the outside edges. Gently heat a sharp knife and cut the cheesecake into equal portions.