picture perfect cut cheesecake
I just got back from a church picnic, where my contribution was homemade cheesecake with sliced peaches on top. It went over very well, but in the process, I had some challenges that I know some Chowhounds can help me through for next time.
The part between coming out of the oven and getting it to the diner's plate... Some recipes have various mounds of fresh fruit arranged in beautiful pinwheel patterns, for example. Some have cookie cutouts all across the top, etc. And then, they expect you to cut this cheesecake and still have a beautiful presentation. Once there are add-ons to the top of a cheesecake, you've lost your chance to use the "dental floss" method of cutting through the cake. This morning, I found that even cleaning the knife between cuts did not prevent the challenge of slices of peach sliding around the glaze and avoiding the knife cut. I'm looking at a magazine picture where the cheesecake slice is separating perfectly, and the slice goes right through a plump strawberry standing to attention in a field of other such strawberries on the top. So, how can I get a "picture perfect" slice next time? Thanks very much.
If what you really care about is a neat and perfect looking slice of cheesecake with a fruit topping then do the following: slice, plate, and then add the fruit topping.
And, for what it's worth, never use a magazine food shot as a standard for your own homemade creations. Just like it would be foolhardy to model yourself after a Victoria Secret's model, it would be equally foolhardy to think that something about of Gourmet or Food & Wine is actually attainable without alot of airbrushing, injections, glue, etc.
Those pictures are there to sell magazines, not to reflect reality.
Magazine photos almost always employ a food stylist to produce a look that doesn't happen in real world cooking and baking. They're cutting those strawberries separately, then placing them on the cheesecake, for instance.
Keeping that in mind, I would suggest using a large chef's or serrated knife and dipping it into a pitcher of boiling or very hot water, then wiping it clean, between each cut.
"Beautiful" is a concept that differs from person to person. The most important thing is to make something that tastes delicious to you.