This Classic Cheesecake recipe is smooth, creamy, moist, and full of vanilla, with a graham cracker crust.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom piece facing down. Double or triple wrap the outside of the springform pan with heavy duty foil. (Do one or two extra layers if not using heavy duty foil.)
MAKE CRUST: In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. BAKE 10-12 minutes until crust lightly browns. Set aside to cool.
MAKE FILLING: With a stand mixer and the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth, scraping the bowl well, occasionally. Add flour until just incorporated.
Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Mix until just incorporated and scrape the bowl.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is just incorporated before adding the next. Add the sour cream and mix until just incorporated. (DO NOT OVER-MIX!)
Pour the filling into the springform pan over the cooked crust, and gently smooth the top. Tap the pan (pick it up — just a little bit — and drop it) on the counter several times to make all the air bubbles rise to the top and pop.
Place the cheesecake in a large roasting pan. Transfer to the oven. Pour hot tap water into the pan surrounding the cheesecake at least halfway. (You can use a rimmed baking sheet with 1-inch of water if that's all you have to fit the cheesecake in. See photo in this post.)
REDUCE HEAT to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 70-80 minutes; the top will be dull/matte and puffed up in the center. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! After the cheesecake is baked, turn the oven off; let the cheesecake stay in the closed oven for 2-3 hours more without opening the door.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven; cool completely at room temperature. Remove cheesecake from water-bath and discard the foil. Cover the cheesecake pan with plastic wrap; REFRIGERATE until firm, at least 4 hours. Un-mold before serving. Use a HOT knife to slice pieces, rinsing and drying the knife between each pass. Enjoy plain or with your favorite fruit or toppings.
TO FREEZE: Remove the refrigerated cheesecake from the springform pan and place it on a freezer safe plate or cardboard cake circle. Place a layer of wax or parchment paper over the top of the cheesecake. Tightly double wrap with plastic wrap, then cover with a layer of foil. Freeze up to 3 months.