To a bowl, add the crumbs, melted browned butter, plus 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Stir well until the cookie crumbs fully absorb the butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a foil lined springform pan evenly along the sides to form a wall. Set the pan aside.
Beat the softened cream cheese in a mixer on low-medium speed until smooth. Add in the lemon zest if using then the sugar gradually until it’s creamed. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.
Add the eggs one at a time to fully incorporate followed by the vanilla extract and the sour cream. Scrape the sides as needed.
Fill the prepared pan with the batter being careful to pour in the middle of the crust. This will allow the filling to naturally read the sides of the pan without disrupting the crust.
Water Bath & Bake
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place the prepared cheesecake into a large roasting pan. Pour 5-6 cups of hot water around the cheesecake pan. Be careful not to splash the cake. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 min).
After 75 minutes, do not open the oven door.
Turn the oven off and let the cake sit for another hour (60 min). Once removed from the oven allow it to cool for at least 2 hours before refrigerating overnight. (The cake will need at least 8 hours to fully set and chill through.)
Tips for preparing the springform pan for a water bath: There are two parts to the springform pan. I line the round insert with both wax paper and aluminum foil. The wax paper under the foil allows for a full release of the cheesecake after baking. Lining the insert with foil alone makes it difficult to lift the cheesecake off of the insert. The foil sticks to the insert and it’s harder to remove the cake. The was paper is a buffer.After the crust and batter are in the pan, line the outer pan with a double layer of aluminum foil secured around the top of the springform pan. Be sure that there are no gaps. You may need an extra foil to cover any spaces.