Cheesecake baking can be frustrating but once you have a great recipe and follow directions to the "t", it'll come out perfect!
I actually don't use ricotta, I find the taste and texture of farmer's cheese more appealing. Here's the recipe I use:
1) Cover the bottom and sides of a springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.
15 whole graham crackers
3 T sugar
6 T melted butter
Pulse crust ingredients in a food processor to fine crumb consistency, press into the bottom of a springform pan and bake for 15 min on 350.
3) Cheesecake batter:
1 lb cream cheese blocks (NOT WHIPPED)
1/2 lb farmer's cheese
1 C sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 t vanilla extract
Beat ingredients in a mixer, then add in 2 C sour cream and mix to incorporate. Pour batter onto crust.
4) **this is the most important part: the water bath!
Put your springform into a large aluminum pan and pour water into the pan until it comes halfway up the foil covered springform.
5) Bake the cheesecake for 45 min on 350
DO NOT open the oven the whole time it is baking - the water bath creates steam in the oven that will prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking, and opening the oven will let the steam escape, which WILL create cracks.
Once the cheesecake is finished baking, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside to cool for hours - for best results, still don't open the oven until it is completely cooled.
I like to top my cheesecake with caramel sauce and shaved milk and white chocolate.
Get creative with the toppings and enjoy!