Rabbi Drorah Setel

My grandmother, Sylvia Fox Wittman, made this cheesecake regularly and it was a great family favorite. I had always assumed it was a long standing family recipe but when I was old enough to make it on my own I was shocked to realize it calls for the ingredients to be beaten with an electric mixer for half an hour – either the women of my family had really strong arms back in the day or the recipe wasn’t as old as I had imagined. In any case, it continues to be a favorite with new generations of the family and we always have it for what my children call “The Cheesecake Holiday,” i.e., Shavuot.


1 graham cracker crust, made with ¼ lb. melted butter and 1 C graham cracker crumbs, plus some additional graham cracker crumbs for decoration
2 lbs. cream cheese
3 eggs, separated
¼ C flour
1 C sour cream (1/2 pint)
1 C sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange rind, lemon rind, or other desired flavoring

Note: This must be made in an electric mixer and baked in a spring form pan (8” or 9”).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat all ingredients, except egg whites, vanilla, and flavoring, together for one half hour.

Beat whites separately until stiff but not dry, then fold them into the batter along with the vanilla, grated rind or other flavoring, if you use it.

Make the graham cracker crust and pat into the bottom of the buttered spring form, raising it slightly along the sides to make a little edge.

Pour the batter into the crust. Sprinkle some graham cracker crumbs on top, through a strainer, for decoration.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Turn off oven, open the oven door, and leave cake undisturbed for ½ hour before removing.

When chilled, and before serving, removed side of spring form pan.

This cake keeps very well in the refrigerator for several days and may be frozen in the pan and defrosted before serving. It can be kept for a month or two in the freezer with good results.