Cheesecake Cheat Sheet
Follow our tips for fabulous results.
Avoid Overmixing: Unlike other cakes, where beating air into the batter is key, overmixed cheesecake can rise, fall and then crack from that excess air. Keeping ingredients (cheese, eggs, liquids and flavorings) at room temperature can help.
Prevent Cracking: It happens to the best of cheesecakes, mainly because of fluctuations in temperature (or overmixing). Cook and cool your cheesecake slowly, and use a water bath (see below) to prevent cracking.
Be Patient: The whole trick with cheesecake is gentle, coaxing heat — cook slowly and cool gradually.
Use a two-piece springform cake pan for cheesecake; it allows you to remove the sides and the bottom, maintaining a nice shape. (If you don't have one and can't get one, try a pie-sized cake pan lined with parchment paper.)
Make sure that the bottom of the pan is right-side up. The raised edge should sit face-up in the pan: This makes it seal properly and makes it easier to cut the crust.
Setting Up a Water Bath
Many cheesecakes are baked in a water bath (i.e. a pan of water) to moderate the temperature and prevent cracking. Since water remains at a constant low temperature, the cake sets slowly, resulting in a super-creamy dessert.
Because springform pans warp over time, and even the best pans might leak if the seal isn't perfect, line the outside of the pan with foil whenever you do the water bath. Remember, this pan will be floating in water. Next steps:
1. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
2. Set springform pan (with cheesecake inside) in a roasting pan.
3. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven.
4. Fill roasting pan with hot water until it gets about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
The center should still be a bit wobbly — the cake continues to cook as it cools, and it will set completely when refrigerated. Shake the pan slightly, but be careful not to splash hot water on yourself.
Removing From the Pan
Run a thin knife around the cake's edge as soon as it comes out of the oven. This prevents the cheesecake from cracking as it cools. Once it's cooled, remove the springform ring and slice directly on the base.
Most cheesecakes freeze well for up to two weeks, but remember to wrap tightly in both film and foil.