Lisa’s Letters Home: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Lisa’s Letters Home: Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’m not from the USA, but I’m all for anything that encourages eating a ridiculous amount of food and making things with pumpkin in them. All of this talk of Thanksgiving from my American friends got me thinking about one of my Canadian Thanksgiving favourites: pumpkin cheesecake.

Truth be told, pumpkin pie just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I mean don’t get me wrong, I would never turn it down, but I like coming up with pumpkin-based alternatives. This year I did a pumpkin flan but in previous years, Nigella Lawson’s pumpkin cheesecake has been on our Thanksgiving table.

It’s a proper baked cheesecake that’s very easy to put together and hooray! It’s best made ahead of time! I think what makes this one so good is that it’s cooked in a water bath (bain marie.) It seems to make the cheesecake fluffier and helps avoid cracks. Just make sure you wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap before giving it a bath – soggy cheesecake is really not nice. (Not that it stopped me from eating it.)

You can top this with a basic toffee sauce (like this one, which is sugar melted in a pan with butter, golden syrup/corn syrup, and cream added, cooked until golden brown.

I’ve made a crust-free version of this and it is still delicious. Alternatively for a gluten-free version, you can make a crust out of ground nuts or a crust made from almond flour.

Lisa’s Letters Home: Pumpkin Cheesecake


  • 8 ounces (250g) packet of digestive biscuits/Graham crackers
  • 3/4 cups (140g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tin of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups (500g) cream cheese
  • 200g caster sugar/white sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (160C.)

For the crust, crush the biscuits/crackers and combine with the butter and cinnamon. Press into the base of a 9” springform pan and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

For the filling, put all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined. You may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your food processor.

Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and with a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend well.

The filling will look very watery, but don’t panic. It really will turn into cheesecakey goodness in the oven.

Put a full kettle on to boil.

Remove the pan from the fridge and wrap the sides and bottom securely with plastic wrap. You want it to be watertight, so you might need around 4 layers of wrap.

Once you’re done with the plastic wrap, add one more layer of thick tin foil around the outside of the pan.

Put the pan in a large roasting tin and pour the filling over the crust.

Put the roasting tin into the oven and with the door open, add the hot water from the kettle  (slowly and carefully), until it comes around halfway up the side of the tin.

Carefully slide the tin into the oven and bake until set – around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the water bath and let the cheesecake cool completely in the tin. Refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Serve with whipped cream, pouring cream, or toffee sauce.


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