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insider cheesecake tricks??

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I am fairly new to baking- as sweets are not my thing- and am trying to perfect a great cheesecake that I can easily whip together- and change the flavor on a whim.

My questions:

If baking it in a bath essential?

How do you get the top to NOT crack and brown too much?

Recipes vary greatly- how many eggs does your favorite call for?

Thanks

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  1. Baking in a water bath is not essential, but it does help to keep the top from cracking, as does cooling it in the oven for an hour after it is finished baking.

    If you use a springform pan and a water bath, be sure to wrap the bottom and part way up the sides of the pan with a double layer of foil.

    One trick I learned is to put the finished cheesecake batter through a sieve (not too fine) before putting it in the pan, makes for a smoother cake.

    I use various recipes, with different numbers of eggs.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ruth arcone

      I agree, do use a water bath, it makes the cheesecake cook much more evenly, and don't forget to wrap it with foil.

      I leave the cream cheese out of frig until it's really room temp, this will give you a very smooth cake and eleminate the need to put through a sieve. Also after mixing all ingred. together and before putting into springform pan, give it a few stirs by hand to make sure it's really smooth and completely mixed.

      Recipes do vary greatly, but I"ve found most call for 4 eggs and that does seem to make it creamy. Try to beat in each egg seperately and don't beat too much after each addition.

      Cheesecakes are pretty easy to make and there are so many different types that I"m sure you'll not only have fun baking them, but also finding your fav.

      1. re: ruth arcone

        I'm known as the cheesecake expert in my circle. I've probably baked over 1,000 of them in my life, and have even sold a few:

        If baking it in a bath essential?
        I believe it is. Therefore, I use a solid pan and not a springform pan. I've heard too many horror stories of people wrapping the springform in foil and having it leak. It's not worth it. It takes guts the first few times you turn a room-temperature cheesecake (which, after all, is a custard) from its pan. But the resulting perfect texture is well worth developing the technique. I have pans in every diameter from 4" to 12" and they're 3" deep. I've never needed to strain the filling. I mix it in my food processor. If you mix the cream cheese with the sugar thoroughly first, you're unlikely to develop lumps.

        How do you get the top to NOT crack and brown too much?
        The top cracks because the sides of the cheesecake stick to the pan. A baking cheesecake loses LOTS of water and, therefore, shrinks. Since there's no place else for the shrinkage to occur, the thing cracks. A water bath helps. The second and equally important aid is to not use a crust, as such, but to coat the pan with melted butter then coat it with crushed crumbs chosen to compliment the filling. I don't care much for graham crakers, so for a plain (NY Style) cheesecake I usually use vanilla wafer or zweibach crumbs. I often use chocolate cookie crumbs, and for a pumpkin cheesecake I use gingersnap crumbs. This way the cheesecake shrinks away from the sides of the pan, and I never have a crack.

        Recipes vary greatly- how many eggs does your favorite call for?
        As the previous poster said, follow your recipe. My favorite recipe for NY style cheesecake uses 1.5 lb cream cheese, 3 eggs, 1.5 cups sugar, .75 cups each cream and sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice.

        One of these days I'll write a book. I have some techniques I've never seen in any book.

        1. re: Dorothy

          I like the springform, because it doen't make me nervous about turning it over.
          I put a pan of water on the rack below
          Also my favourite cheesecake recipe, which I have used for over 30 years, almost always cracks a bit, but I accept it

          1. re: bev

            I'm with you. Cracking? It never affected the flavor of anything, so what? …especially since most of them will "heal" if you just let them sit overnight before you cut into them.

            Then, too, there's lemon curd or ganache or sour cream topping or whatever.

          2. re: Dorothy

            Would you mind posting your recipe? I need to make a cheesecake this weekend and I like your ratio of ingredients.

        2. you know what's a good trick? blind bake the crust, mix the cake ingredients in a bowl and whisk in a double boiler (metal bowl over gently simmering water) until you just start to feel the custard thicken a little, and the whisk leaves a trail for a second in the custard if you know what i mean, pour into crust, cool, refridgerate. voila! same effect as a water bath, which is not essential by the way just makes it come out somewhat creamier.

          1. About a tablespoon of dark rum in the batter gives a lovely flavor.

            1. I don't know the recipe off the top of my head, but I always use the cheesecake recipe on the inside of a Philadelphia Cream Cheese package -- it's as easy as it gets and it's great. It's a good cheesecake recipe to start with because of its simplicity.

              Also,another way to not use a pastry crust as someone below suggested is to bake a two-tiered cake: a cake on the bottom and cheesecake on the top. I've done this many times with different types of cake -- brownie under new york cheesecake, carrot cake under pumpkin spice cheesecake, coffee cake under espresso cheesecake, etc -- and it's really not that hard and people are always wowed. So tasty.

              1. I work in pastry we make cheesecakes every day and here are my tips. Always use a water bath. The convection of the heat will be substantially more even and hence will cook more evenly and faster. Always pass custard (all custard - lemon curd, pastry cream, ice cream base, bread pudding base, creme brulee, etc) though a chinois before using. This removes the lumpy egg protiens that can cause uneven texture. And the secret for a non-cracked top is to leave the cake in the oven. When the cooking time is done, turn off the oven and let it all cool down together. I cracks because it cools too fast.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pastry diva

                  my cheesecake cracks as it is cooking- any ideas? also the top is brown?

                  1. re: edinaeats

                    Maybe the oven is at too high a temperature (do you have a separate oven thermometer?) and the top really shouldn't be brown - another indication of too much heat

                    1. re: edinaeats
                      j
                      JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                      If it cracks as it's cooking, you're overcooking it. Check the internal temperature of the cheesecake with an instant-read thermometer. Once the cheesecake hits 150 degrees, take it out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Let it set on its own for about 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edge to release it. Let it cool the rest of the way (up to 3 hours, always a hard part for me!), then take off the springform.

                    2. re: pastry diva

                      I just started baking cheesecakes, and I'm having a problem with the crust getting soggy during the water bath. I cover it with foil, but it still happens. Is there a technique to wrapping it with foil that works best?

                      1. re: eisenj97

                        My opinion would be to not even bother with a water bath. I have never used one and I've made tons of cheesecakes (all different kinds) and they turn out great. For the texture I like (fully set, but creamy), just don't overbake (bake until JUST set in the middle - it will continue to set up in the fridge) and not overbaking also helps for no cracks (and also running a knife around the edge about 10 mins after taking it out).