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Cheesecake Crust Help!

I have trouble making homemade crusts... I'd like to perfect this - and need some tips!

My last crust turned out too buttery (followed the directions - 8.5 oz of ground vanilla wafers to 10 T. melted butter. I pressed it in the Springform pan and baked as directed, but the sides fell and it was a bubbly mess. To recover, I ground up the rest of the vanilla wafers I had (about 2.5 more oz.), mixed it in with the already cooked but soggy crust, and that held up ok -but the end product was too dense for my liking (perhaps because it was double baked)?

I'm attempting the same recipe, and am thinking of cutting the butter and increasing the crumbs (the wafer container is 11 oz). Any thoughts... I'm afraid if I cut the butter too much, it will be too dry.

Also - any tips to not get so much crust in the corner? NO matter how hard I try to make the corners as thin as possible, my corners are never even and always big clumps of crust. (Practice? Practice? Practice?)

TIA!

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  1. I've never used vanilla wafers to make a cheesecake crumb, only graham crackers and on a rare occasion chocolate wafers but reducing the butter makes little difference so you could probably do that. That is a lot of butter. I don't think it'll be dry, esp, w/ the cheesecake top. I use a glass (not rounded on the edges) to smooth out the crust. Just push it along the bottom and edge.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowser

      Id cut the butter back back to no more then 7Tbl and maybe even 5Tbl.

    2. That does seem like a lot of butter. I made two crusts over the holidays, the first was 9 oz of crackers to 1/2 stick of butter and the second was 10 oz to 3/4 of a stick. I would definitely reduce the butter.
      As for getting it smooth...my technique is to put all the crumbs in the middle and work my way out. Not sure if that helps, it may just be practice.

      1. That does sound like rather a lot of butter-- I make cheesecake using an old family recipe, which has the following proportions for a crust that covers just the bottom of a 9" pan (not the sides). It's true that it's a bit crumbly, but not dry. (I sometimes use graham crackers or other crumbs)

        2 Tbsp butter
        1.5 cups fine zweiback crumbs
        2 Tbsp sugar

        In any event, no matter what the recipe is, I totally second the hint of using a glass to press the crust into the pan!

        1. That's definitely too much butter for the crust. I usually use two plastic packets of cinnamon graham crackers and two tablespoons of sugar. I melt half a stick of butter (4 tablespoons) and work it into the crumbs as needed. Sometimes the crust takes all of it, sometimes it takes about 3/4 of the butter.

          The best way to spread it in the pan is to dump the crumb mixture in the middle and spread it out almost to the edge with your fingers. Then, with a flat bottom, rounded side dry measure cup press the crust down and up against the sides. I'm assuming you are using a round springform pan?

          1. you mentioned that the end result was too dense, and i'm inclined to think it's simply because that's too much crust. most of the recipes i've seen call for 40 vanilla wafers to yield approximately 1-1/4 cups of crumbs. going by the standard Nabisco product, 40 wafers would be equivalent to a little more than 5 ounces (because one 8-wafer serving is equivalent to 30 grams, which is just slightly over one ounce). you stated that your recipe calls for 8.5 ounces - over 50% more than the typical recipe.

            if i were you, i might try scaling back to the standard formula of 1-1/4 cups crumbs, which usually calls for 4 Tbsp of butter...maybe that will work out better for you.

            but if you still want to use 8.5 ounces, you definitely have to cut back on the butter - the ratio is way off. by my rough calculations, you'd still only need about 7 Tbsp. butter - or approximately 1 Tbsp per 10 wafers.

            does that make any sense, or did i confuse the heck out of you? anyway, i hope it works out next time!

            1. Thanks everyone for your advice - and I LOVE the tips to smooth out the crust!! I'm making it tonight for my boss' b'day... so hope it turns out better than my Christmas crust!!

              The very first time I made this, I used Nilla Wafers and don't remember having a problem with the crust (although, I always struggle with crusts!) - this last time I used vanilla wafers from TJ's - which are more crisp and less dense than standard vanilla wafers (like Nilla) - I think that might have been part of the problem. The recipe calls for 2 1/3c ground (reserving 1/4 c of the finished mix for a crumb top) for a 9" round springform. The butter really cuts the density of the crumbs, and it isn't a very thick crust (unless you count my horrid corners where all my crust ends up!)

              This go around, I will boldly use less butter and will report results tomorrow!! Thanks again - I really appreciate it!

              4 Replies
              1. re: The Oracle

                Hi all... have yet to cut into the cheesecake - but wanted to thank you for the tips! I used a little less butter and more crumbs and it was a good consistency. I still struggled forming it in the pan. This time, I didn't have much trouble up the sides, but those darn corners! I used the glass, and my crust kept sticking to the sides and bottom of the glass... but a combination of the glass and my hand seemed to even it out well. I still think I'll have awfully thick corners, but was pleased with this attempt. A definite improvement, to say the least. Thank you!

                1. re: The Oracle

                  one more tip when using the glass trick - next time keep it lightly oiled to prevent sticking.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Yes, and use a pat/tap motion more than a slide motion. Funny, I do it w/out thinking but this has made me stop and think about how I do it.

                  2. re: The Oracle

                    And on reflection, I think I use a tamp + twist motion of the glass! (press down, then twist and lift)
                    I probably face less of a technical challenge, though, since my crust has much less better and doesn't have to adhere to the sides or anything-- so it's mostly just about pressing them down to make sure they're somewhat densely compressed.

                2. I really like the cheesecake and crust from the Junior's cookbook - it uses a thin sponge cake layer as the crust, and I think it's a better complement to the texture of cheesecake. You bake the sponge in the pan first, and then the filling is poured on top, so the crust is plenty sturdy, but much lighter than a crumb crust. Of course, the cheesecakes that I most remember are the ones where the pan's been just dusted with crumbs - so light! Just personal preference.

                  And as for the corners, I echo the suggestion of a glass or dry measuring cup - anything with straight sides and a flat bottom should make the base fairly even.

                  1. I always bake in a water bath. I baked two cheesecakes this weekend at the same time, one in water, one not. The one that did not have a water bath came out with a burnt crust . I made a third one in a bath but the crust got soggy. I did wrap the pan in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil, must have leaked though. I never use graham crackers, I have used all kinds of cookies- vanilla wafers, shortbread, chocolate wafers. I have also used cereal- multi-grain cheerios and the cheerios with little granola clusters. I do reduce the amount of butter ( 5T) when I use cookies and less sugar too. Sometimes they crack, will try to mix less. Also interested in trying the silicone strips.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: lkaw58

                      I've had raves with my Oreo cheesecake: crushed cookies with butter for the bottom of the crust, then mostly whole cookies along the sides--really pretty when presented (mostly whole 'cause you cut off about 1/8 of the cookie so the flat edge stands along the perimeter). Then more cookies in the cream cheese filling. Not for the faint of heart.

                      1. re: pine time

                        I use a combination of graham crackers and gingersnaps for the crust for pumpkin cheesecake - just the right texture and spice