The Marshall Portnoy Show

This cake is a lighter, home style version of the famous Lindy’s cheesecake. Lindy’s Broadway restaurant was a favorite hangout for entertainers, tourists and mobsters alike from the 1920’s until the late 1960’s. Milton Berle, the famous comedian, was a frequent patron, and one evening I actually saw him holding court at a large rectangular table near the front door. Lindy’s cheesecake is legendary. Each slice was large, expensive and completely worth the money and the calories. 

Cheesecakes are easy to make as long as certain rules are observed. Even though the mixing of the cake does not take much time, planning ahead is essential. 


  1. Use a springform pan which makes unmolding easy. Since the cheesecake will bake in a water bath and the springform pan is not watertight, wrap the bottom of the pan in heavy duty foil that goes about two thirds of the way up the side of the pan. If a few drops of water should leak in, that’s perfectly fine. A small amount of water will not affect the cake.
  2. The cream cheese, eggs and butter should be at room temperature.
  3. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after beating the cream cheese, and after each addition of another ingredient, in order to eliminate any lumps.
  4. Beat at medium speed to avoid incorporating too much air into the batter. This will maintain a creamy consistency.
  5. After baking time is complete, turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar. Let the cake sit in the oven in the water bath for one hour before removing from the oven and placing it on a cooling rack. The gradual cooldown will prevent cracking of the surface of the cake.
  6. Chill the cake thoroughly for several hours or overnight. Cheesecake ages well and is better on the second and third day after baking.
  7. The slices are easily cut with unwaxed dental floss. Cut across the cake with the taut floss and pull through at the bottom.

2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter to grease the pan
1⁄2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1⁄2 pounds (3 8-ounce packages) cream cheese at room temperature Grated peel of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream
1⁄4 cup half-and-half cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. For the water bath, place a rectangular baking pan, larger than the springform pan, in the oven. Pour about 1 1⁄2 inches of water into this pan. Wrap the bottom and sides of an 8 x 3-inch springform pan with foil. Generously grease the inside of the pan with softened butter. Place the crumbs in the greased pan and shake the pan to coat the inside with the crumbs. Shake out any excess crumbs that don’t adhere.

Add the cream cheese to the bowl of the electric mixer and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again if any lumps remain. Add the zest and vanilla. Gradually add the heavy cream and sugar, beating constantly. Scrape down sides and bottom once more to ensure a smooth consistency. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each is added. Finally, beat in the sour cream and half-and-half.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Gently place the pan into the water bath. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the cake in its water bath for one hour with the oven door open several inches. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and release the springform clip to unmold. Chill thoroughly.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings 

N O T E : This cheesecake can be served plain or with different toppings. Cherry or blueberry pie filling is an easy and delicious topping. Or whole fresh strawberries may be used with a glaze of melted strawberry jam.