Lots of fresh lemon juice, smooth cream cheese, crunchy graham cracker crust and poppy seeds are the key ingredients for this tart lemon cheesecake recipe!
The hidden poppy seed layer makes this cake perfect!
I could eat cheesecakes all year round! This lemon cheesecake for example was a Christmas Eve dessert for my family this year, but it would also be a perfect dessert for a summer party. I simply love the versatility of cheesecakes. This lemon cheesecake bursts with lemon flavor from fresh pressed lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract. Can you wish for more?
Lemon + Poppy seed = LOVE
Not only is this the perfect creamy lemon cheesecake recipe but it is spiced up with a poppy seed cream layer. In my opinion making a separate poppy seed layer gives you the most intensive flavors of both. If you want to save some preparation time or if you just want a hint of poppy seed flavor, it is totally ok to just sprinkle some poppy seeds in the cream cheese layer instead of making a poppy seed filling.
These are the cheesecake pans that I always use in my recipe videos: Springform pan and Removable bottom pan
A 8 inch springform pan is the traditional choice to make most cheesecake recipes. I usually use it for no bake cheesecakes. For baked cheesecakes I prefer the removable bottom pan. It has the advantage of fitting a water bath snuggly around it.
Read here my tips for a crackfree cheesecake every time!
Lemon Poppyseed Dream Cheesecake
For the Graham cracker crust:
3 cups (250g) graham cracker (20 sheets)
9 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
For the poppyseed filling:
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1/3 cup (40 g) corn starch
2/3 cups (180 g) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (220 g) poppyseed
For the lemon cheesecake filling:
32 oz (900 g) cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (120 g) sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (75 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 drops yellow food coloring, optional
Preheat oven to 325 °F. In a food processor pulse graham cracker until fine crumbs form. Add melted butter and sugar. Pulse until combined. Fill in prepared 9-inch springform pan. Press onto bottom and 2 inches up the sides. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
Let's make a custard. In a sauce pan add milk, cornstarch, vanilla and sugar. Whisk it until combined. Heat at medium heat until it starts boiling. Reduce heat. Let it keep boiling for about 2 minutes while whisking. Pour into a clean bowl and cover directly on top with cling wrap, to prevent skin from forming. Let cool.
Time to make the poppy layer. In a medium sized bowl add sour cream, poppy seeds and eggs. Beat together until smooth. Add cooled pudding and mix in until everything is well combined. Set aside.
Let's make the cheesecake batter. In a large bowl mix cream cheese with sugar and flour until smooth. Add lemon juice, zest, extract, vanilla extract and food coloring (optional). Add eggs and mix until smooth.
Wrap springform pan in 3 layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour poppyseed filling on top of the graham cracker crust. Smooth out. Add the lemon cheesecake layer on top. smooth as well. Place in a water bath and bake at 300 °F for about 55 minutes. Open oven just a little bit and keep open with a kitchen towel. Let cool in oven for 45 minutes. Then remove water bath and carefully run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Another way of making graham cracker crumbs is to use a zip lock bag and a rolling pin to pulverize them into fine crumbs.
The amount of the crust is going to make a thick and high crust. If you only like a thinner or less high crust, make only half of the recipe!
Tired of graham cracker crust? Make a short crust pastry. You do not even need to prebake it.
To increase the lemon color you can add some yellow food coloring. I would suggest to add just a few drops at a time, mix it in, then decide if more is needed.
Not a poppy seed fan? Just make a lemon cheesecake without the poppy seed layer - taste just as delicious and is half the work! If you still want the pretty seeds sprinkle some in the cheesecake batter before filling it inside the crust.