MAKES: About 12 servings

TIME: 11/2 hours, plus time to chill

If you’ve never made cheesecake with anything but cream cheese, try this. Ricotta makes a creamy, moist, and light cheesecake that’s delicious but is much lower in saturated fat (especially if you use part-skim ricotta). The texture is pleasantly grainy (as is ricotta itself); If you want it smoother, whirl the cheese in the food processor first. Like cream cheese, the flavor of ricotta is mild enough to blend with just about any other flavor you like; I start with lemon here, but you can also experiment with other seasonings or extracts. Though turbinado sugar has a more distinctive flavor than granulated or even brown sugar, go ahead and substitute either in a pinch.

Baking in a water bath is the best way to treat cheese-cake, which is like a custard. Unfortunately, most spring-form pans leak water. You have a few options here: Try wrapping the outside of the pan in a large sheet of heavy-duty foil and be careful not to tear or puncture the foil (use two layers for extra protection); this usually works. Or use a solid pan; this, of course works, but it will make getting the cheesecake out of the pan difficult, so I don’t like this option. Instead, I get good results by leaving the cheesecake in the oven after turning it off as suggested in the recipe. Or skip both methods and just risk the uneven cooking and cracks.

1 recipe Baked Crumb Crust

6 large eggs

1 cup turbinado sugar

11/2 pounds (about 3 cups) fresh ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Press the crust into the bottom of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and bake as directed, then set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 325В°F.

Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar until light; add the cheese, zest, and flour and beat until smooth.

Turn the batter into the prepared crust and bake until the cake has separated from the sides of the pan but is still a little jiggly at the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, but leave the cake inside until cool.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely on a rack, cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate until well chilled before slicing and serving. This will keep in good shape for several days.

Variations

Quick Ricotta Pots. With no crust, even easier; this can be done with the main recipe or any of the following variations: Simply pour the batter into greased individual ramekins or into one baking dish and proceed with the recipe. Ramekins will be ready to turn off the oven in 20 to 30 minutes and baking dishes in 30 to 40 minutes, depending on their sizes.

Rum-Raisin Ricotta Cheesecake. Cheesecake for adults: Add 1 cup raisins and 3/4 cup dark rum; reduce the turbinado to 1/2 cup. Soak the raisins in the rum until they are swollen and most of the rum is absorbed. Proceed with the recipe; fold the raisins in after beating the other filling ingredients in Step 2.