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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?


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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
                      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).

                    3. For a really good step by step list of instructions, go to the Foodnetwork site and see Alton Brown's cheesecake recipes. I have had very good luck with that. Kim

                      1. water bath - I've used water baths but have never noticed a difference in texture when I don't use one.

                        Cracking - Different cracks are from different sources. When it is done baking, run a knife between the edge of the pan and the cake to make sure it is released. It should be baked at a very low temperature and allowed to cool in the oven. Start with all ingredients at room temp and mix properly. When the sugar and cheese are creamed, it needs to be creamed. When you add the eggs, only beat enough to combine. Don't overbeat here.

                        Browning - The only cheesecake I've made that browns is a lemon mascarpone one that is supposed to develop some light brown spots on its top. Perhaps you're baking at too high a temp?

                        The ratio of cheese to eggs to other items varies because of the chemistry. Most of mine are four plus an egg yolk, some are five and one is three.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: muD

                          I agree with muD on all accounts. I, too, make TONS of cheesecakes and am famous for them (in my small circle!).

                          I rarely use a water bath and do not notice a difference in texture. I'll only use one if the recipe really harps on it.

                          I, too,run a knife around the edge after it cools for a couple of minutes. Mine never crack. Super easy.

                          I also like a very creamy cheesecake, so bake it until it JUST sets in the middle (it is usually much less time than the recipe calls for - I start checking it early). It will set much more as it chills. Therefore, they are never brown on the top either. But, that texture is personal preference.

                          I blind bake the crust (my preference is graham cracker, but have used lots of crushed cookie combinations too) first for about 10 minutes at a higher heat and then add the filling and bake at the regular temp.

                          I know some will probably shoot me, but I almost always use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese - NOT because it's "healthier", but because it is SO easy to work with (no softening necessary if you forget). I don't notice a taste or texture difference (I make mostly flavored cheesecakes, not plain). And this is coming from someone who HATES nearly all low/no fat dairy products!

                          I can't imagine not using a springform pan - Dorothy, you are much braver than I !! :) I like the simplicity of the springform pan and since I don't use a water bath, leaking is not a problem.

                          good luck and have fun! I honestly find cheesecakes to be one of the easiest desserts to make - and so portable - great for potlucks! I think the biggest mistake new cheesecake bakers make is over baking them. If can avoid that, you're well on your way!

                        2. Somehwere I saw (maybe from Alton Brown) that a tablespoon or two of cornstarch in the batter will prevent cracking. I tried that last time, but I also used a water bath, no crack.

                          1. sub mascarpone for 1/4 to 1/5 of the cream cheese.

                            Use a water bath.

                            Bake till slightly wiggly in very center.

                            Let the cheesecake cool in the turned off oven, door ajar.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: toodie jane

                              Does anyone have a secret for how to keep the water bath from leaking into the spring form pan? I double layer the foil and now I fill the water bath after the cheesecake is in there, and it's still a bit wet on the bottom. I even used the extra wide alum foil, and still happened - but I think that must be carelessness.

                              1. re: Snorkelvik

                                I'll bet it's steam condensing on the foil. Try using some painter's tape at the seam, then foil .

                                1. re: Snorkelvik

                                  It actually might not be leaking. Careful not to let the foil come up over the edges to avoid condensation.

                                  1. re: Snorkelvik

                                    I am a beginning baker, but I do have a secret for this: I don't use a springform pan. I've had good luck with a glass pie pan. I use a cake pan for the water bath. But I am concerned more with taste than appearance – your priorities might be different.

                                2. There is an old Bon Appetit cover recipe for lemon swirl cheesecake. The neat thing about it is that the filling is flavored with frozen lemonade concentrate. You could easily make other flavors according to what's available in your supermarket's frozen juice and cocktail mix concentrates.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    that's an interesting method with the concentrate, though i imagine it's a mighty sweet cheesecake since it calls for sugar in addition to what's already in the lemonade. but it could be a really useful starting point for trying out other juice concentrates for out-of-season fruits. hmm...

                                    BTW, not sure if you noticed but this thread is from 2005.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Eisenj97 revived it, not me, but since it's back I threw in my 2 cents. I never made the BA recipe but a friend did. It was quite good - whether or not she followed it exactly, I couldn't say. I'll bet you could make a curd out of the concentrate and use that as the swirl, with a plain vanilla or almond cheesecake filling. That would be pretty.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        ah, missed that post - thought it was you. just wanted to make sure you knew :) there have been *so* many revivals of really old posts lately!

                                        love the idea of using the concentrate for curd.

                                  2. Cheesecake tips

                                    Have all the ingredients (cheese, eggs, liquids and flavorings) at room temperature before blending.

                                    Quick changes of temperature causes cracks. Turn off the heat when the center's still loose and let cool in the oven.

                                    Many cheesecakes are baked in a water bath to moderate the temperature. Since water remains at a constant temperature, the cake sets slowly.

                                    Baking at lower temperatures help prevent cracks.

                                    To prevent cracking as it cools, run a thin knife around the edge of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

                                    If it still cracks, use it as a starting point when cutting your first slice.

                                    Dip a knife in warm water and wipe dry before slicing each piece.

                                    Most cheesecakes freeze well if wrapped in both plastic and foil. High water content cheesecakes become icy, so freezing isn’t so good.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                      Cheesecake cracks because its overbaked. It's done when you tap the side, it shoulod shake like Jello....you'll have a quarter sized spot in the middle that will look alittle underdone. Bake and let cool to room temp in a waterbath before you refrigderate.

                                      1. re: MIss G

                                        You can also use a thermometor and when it reads 160-165 degrees, its done...

                                    2. There's a chow tip around somewhere about using sour cream to patch a crack. Personally I prefer the regular Philly recipe.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                        Sweet! I second the Philly recipe and I've doctored cake with sour cream and called it "New York" style....

                                      2. Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks in with the sugar, cream cheese and lemon, then fold in the beaten whites right before you put it in the oven. The texture is creamy and light, rather than dense.

                                        I use 4 eggs, 24 oz cream cheese, 1 1/3 cups sugar, lemon and vanilla.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Isolda

                                          Mine cracks during baking....it goes all the way up and cracks on the way down....used alot of recipes....i keep everything at room temp....what do you grease the pan with??? and do u grease the sides also?? thanx

                                          1. re: kitkaty

                                            Use a waterbath, cook only so the out 1/3 is cooked and then turn the oven off; cracking it with wooden spoon so it's slightly open and leave in for an hour. Then remove and let it cool. Don't grease the pan.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              I completly agree with Chowser, except I do not use a springform pan. Because of this I butter the pan and then put parchment paper on the bottom and sides of the pan. I suggest looking up Alton Brown's Cheesecake Recipe on foodnetwork for full instructions on how to do it this way, if you are interested.

                                              1. re: Redstickchef

                                                thank you for the reply....do you grease the parchment also....and the pan.

                                                1. re: kitkaty

                                                  I grease only the pan sides and bottom, and then attach the parchment to the bottom and sides. Here's a guideline of how to use the normal cake pan method for cheesecakes:
                                                  After the cheesecake has been taken out of the oven and cooled on the counter to room temperature, I usually put it in the freezer overnight or for a few hours. (You do not have to, it's just a trick I learned that helps when I take it out of the cake pan.) After it has been chilled I will take it out, and place a piece of wax paper on a flat plate or cutting board, whichever is on hand. I then will run a knife between the parchment and cake pan and firmly pull the parchment out of the pan. If it is not coming out steadily, do not keep pulling, or you might rip some of the cake. Instead fill your sink with about two inches of lukewarm water. (Or a big flat-bottomed container.) Place the pan with the cake in the water for a good 30 seconds. Take the pan out of the water and try pulling the parchment again. It should come right out but if it doesn't repeat the dipping pan in the water again. Don't do this too many times because the cheesecake might thaw out too much and you won't be able to flip it. So once you have the parchment out, place the cutting board/flat plate lined with wax paper on top of the cake. And flip the pan and cutting board/plate. The cake should come right out, you might need to jiggle it a little bit but it should definitely come out smoothly. Then transfer the cheesecake to whatever plate you plan to serve it on. I know that it seems like a bunch of steps in writing but once you do it, it really isn't that complicated. I used to use springform pans but the nuisance of having leaky springform pans led me to do it this way and I honestly have never looked back. Good luck!

                                            2. re: kitkaty

                                              I used this recipe, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                              baked the cheesecake at 350 for 37 minutes, internal temp of 148, on top of an insulated cookie sheet. No cracks.

                                          2. Google Dorie Greenspan's tall and creamy cheesecake. It is an absolutely perfect recipe. I use half sour cream half heavy cream, and I bake it in a Calphalon roasting pan.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Becca Porter

                                              Thank you for your reply....i use the cheesecake on the allrecipes.website that has about thousands of reviews.....my sides of the cake never look nice.....because a very little stick to the pan. What do you grease with-butter? thanks again

                                              1. re: kitkaty

                                                After you remove the cheesecake from the pan, you can smooth the edges with a hot knife.

                                            2. The first time I made a cheesecake the recipe I used called for 4 eggs and it tasted like scrambled eggs. I cut that in half and have always had good flavor. I use the same base recipe and add other things to change the kind . I put a cake board in the bottom of the pan and grease it with the butter wrapper from the butter in the crust. I also grease the sides .I still have an occasional problem with cracking but I think it's because I overmix. I usually use a food processor but my lid broke and I had 4 sold for Christmas so I used my Kitchen aid. I didn't like the consistency of the batter as well so I ordered a new work bowl lid. My cake is always smooth and creamy and I never strain it. I do use the bath and leave in the oven for an hour after turning off the stove. I also cool it on top of the stove for an hour before chilling.

                                              1. I never use a water bath. It's just not necessary. The purpose of the water bath is to keep the 'custard' (which cheesecake basically is) from getting too hot too quickly. I've found if I just lower the temperature to 275 deg F, I never have a cracked top. All of my 9" cheesecakes bake for one hour at 275 deg F. Then the oven is turned off and they sit in the oven (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR) for anywhere from 30 minutes (for a plain cheesecake) to 60 minutes (for my banana cream cheesecake). No cracks on top. No overdone edges. Top is not brown. Have no clue why people think the top of a cheesecake should be brown since that usually means it's going to be tough and dry at the edges. My basic recipe is 1 pkg cream cheese: 1/4 cup sugar: 1 lg egg: 1/4 cup sour cream and how many times I multiply that depends on the size of the springform and how thick I want the cheesecake to be. My 9" basic is multiplied x3.

                                                1. I have had great success WITH water baths and have made cheesecakes for 20+ years so I think I will stick with them irregardless what elfie poo or others post

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: lkaw58

                                                    Whatever works. I've done the water baths but find them to be too much trouble when low temps work just as well. :)

                                                    1. re: ElfiePoo

                                                      I find both work well. I love doing overnight cheesecake, super easy. If I have less time, I do the water bath at a regular temperature for an hour and leave the oven ajar. It's better if I'm not going to be home for that long.

                                                  2. What I don't understand is if you are letting it cool in the oven aren't you overcooking it? Or are you under cooking it and it continues to cook as it sits in the oven?

                                                    *wonders if everyone that posted on this thread in 2005 is still alive - yes morbid, I know.*

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                                      You cook it so only the outer third is cooked, center like jello. I prop the oven door open w/ a wooden spoon but turn the oven off. I can't believe this thread is that old!

                                                      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                                        Yes, but when you turn off the oven, the cheesecake is still not quite down. The point of the low temp and then the slow cool down (but still baking slowly) is to keep the cheesecake from cooking too fast and cooling too fast...both of which will change the texture of the cake.

                                                      2. Just heard a story on the Splendid Table about baking a cheesecake for 8 hours at 200 degrees - supposedly makes for incredibly even cooking and no cracks. (And no water bath necessary.)

                                                        Anyone ever tried it?

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: gildeddawn

                                                          Yes, I mentioned it above. It works great.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Oh, sorry, I missed that. How long do you find it usually takes at 200 degrees? Is 8 hours about right?

                                                            1. re: gildeddawn

                                                              Yes, about 8 hours. I don't do that as often as regular temp/ water bath because it's harder for timing. If I pop it in before bed, it might be done before I want to get out of bed. And, then it's warm in the morning and I can't put it in the refrigerator before I have to leave for the day. But, if you can work out the timing, it works great.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                I found what is probably the first 8-hour cheesecake recipe:
                                                                "Making cheesecake while you sleep" - The Washington Post, October 9, 1996

                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                  Not sure if it's the first but it was the first one I had read about at the time and the reason I tried it. When you have a newborn, you're up a good part of the night anyway--might as well be babysitting a cheesecake at the same time. I made the ginger pumpkin cheesecake. It was a hit but when is cheesecake ever not?

                                                          2. re: gildeddawn

                                                            Maybe someone could try a sous vide cheesecake in a bag. ;-).

                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                              Don't laugh but I've always thought a crock pot would be a great vehicle for cooking cheesecake--low heat, moist environment.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                It would probably work fine. They top out at just below boiling (mine at 205-F) and a cheesecake doesn't require browning (~325-F). You can set them to run for 8 hours, like the recipe mentioned above. I have also seen cake, banana bread and cornbread recipes for a crock pot.

                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                  If I tried a cheesecake, I'd fold a towel under the lid, like this recipe:


                                                                  I've seen recipes for cake, etc, and tried one and it was even worst than I expected. Moist isn't the environment to cook those things!

                                                            2. re: gildeddawn

                                                              I would never bake a cheesecake if it took 8 hours. I bake mine less than 2 hours at 275, with an ice water bath to make sure the middle and outside reach about 160 at the same time. Results in smooth, creamy cheesecake from edge to middle.

                                                            3. Water bath - yes ~ yields a creamier texture. To avoid cracking, leave it in the warm oven to cool.

                                                              1. A hot water bath actually helps the outside edge to cook even faster than it normally would, resulting in a cheesecake with a different texture on the outside than in the middle.
                                                                Since I want a consistently smooth texture from edge to edge, I use an ICE water bath.
                                                                I triple wrap the pan to ensure no leaks, and use a probe thermometer in the middle of the cheesecake. I bake at 275° to an internal temp of 160°, and never have cracks. The small hole from the probe can be smoothed over with a hot knife after the cheesecake cools.