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First cheesecake, any tips?

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I am thinking of making this goat cheese cheesecake as my first ever cheesecake. http://www.thenovicechefblog.com/2011...

I've read some cheesecake tips on here and elsewhere but am not sure which might apply to this particular recipe. Do I need to use parchment paper to help get the cake out of the pan? I was thinking of buying this pan to use, is this okay? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001...

Any tips, especially for this particular recipe? I'm not an experienced baker so some things that might go without saying in a recipe I may not know or be familiar with. Thank you so much!

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  1. That looks divine! It is a tall cheesecake made in a 9" pan and the pan you are considering buying is a 10" but with 2" sides. It probably will work, but since you have to buy a pan anyway, why not make it easier on yourself and buy a standard 9" springform?

    With that pan or a standard springform, you shouldn't have a problem removing the bottom. I think you'll be fine as long as you follow the directions. A cheesecake is pretty easy. If it cracks, no big deal since you will be covering it with the compote. Can't wait for you to make it and let us know if it tastes as good as it looks!

    5 Replies
    1. re: MrsJonesey

      Thank you. I don't know why I didn't notice the measurements being off. I ordered the pan but I think I will return it and get one that is the right measurements. I agree it looks amazing!

      Once I remove the bottom of the pan, do I serve it on that or can I transfer to a dish? If so, how do I transfer it safely?

      1. re: bythebay

        You can do either. A little careful wiggling should transfer it with ease, though. Good luck!

        1. re: Hobbert

          Thank you!

        2. re: bythebay

          Leaving the cake on the bottom can lead to scratches.

        3. re: MrsJonesey

          Thanks so much for pointing out the pan size discrepancy. I saw the one I ordered also comes in 9x3, that should be perfect right? I'm planning to order that one.

        4. Wrap the bottom of the pan in foil if you're going to use a water bath.

          3 Replies
          1. re: youareabunny

            I think the water bath thing is too much for me for my first try and the recipe did not call for it, so unless it's essential I think I will skip that this first time. It's not an absolute must is it? The recipe did say to wrap in foil so I will do that, thank you!

            1. re: bythebay

              No it's not necessary. But some swear by it and I believe it can alleviate issues relating to hot spots in the oven. But if you have baked successfully in your oven then no worries ;)

              Spring form pans almost always leak so the foil is a must.

              Good luck! I have to admit, I've not been so impressed by cheesecake cooked in bain marie, at least whenever I've made it. I like a slight rise in my cheesecake and they tend to come out more dense when baked in a water bath. In the end it's preference...

              1. re: youareabunny

                Thank you. I have actually had trouble baking in my oven, so maybe it will turn out I do need the water bath. I'll try without it the first time and see.

          2. The recipe looks great, I've never made this particular one before though, so here are some general tips.

            Don't overbeat your batter. Unlike with most cakes, you do not want to add extra air bubbles. After adding the creme fraiche and eggs stir only until incorporated. Too much air can cause an uneven surface and cracking.

            Parchment paper is helpful along the sides of the pan for easy release. You won't damage the pan or the cake by cutting them apart. You can put some on the bottom of the pan if you want to remove the whole cake. I can't think of a situation when parchment paper does not help.

            Do not overbake. As the recipe says, the cake will not be firm all the way through. When you take it out it will look about 2/3 done.

            If you are using a 10 inch pan instead of the 9 suggested, your cake will be significantly thinner so decrease the baking time. But good choice on a quality aluminum pan.

            This recipe uses a 250F temperature instead of a water bath, to heat the cake slowly and evenly. Don't be tempted to keep the temperature up, or the cake will crack.

            And even though this doesn't apply to this recipe, if you use a water bath, get heavy duty aluminum foil. Double wrap the pan to prevent leaks. Heck even triple wrap it.

            Good luck.

            5 Replies
            1. re: jibberjabberwocky

              Good cheesecake advice, especially on triple wrapping when using a waterbath (although not the case w/ this recipe). No matter how careful I am, there are times when it leaks. The heavy duty, extra wide works wonders but I always feel like I'm wasting so much wrap!

              1. re: chowser

                Ha ha, me too, I feel like I use a mile of foil every time I make a cheesecake. I might look into the gasket pan someone recommended below.

              2. re: jibberjabberwocky

                Double heavy duty foil wrap for water bath and then remove the wrap as soon as it comes out of the oven. The cooling cheesecake releases a lot of steam and moisture. Unless you live in a desert climate, this condensation will collect and puddle inside the wrapping, resulting in exactly what you were trying to avoid.
                I could never figure out why my carefully double or triple wrapped cheesecakes still had "water" in the wrapping when I would go to remove it hours later, and then I finally realized it was collecting there during cooling.

                1. re: splatgirl

                  Now THAT is good advice! I have often wondered why I had so much water in there myself, no matter how careful I was. Genius!

                2. re: jibberjabberwocky

                  Thank you, very helpful!

                3. That looks like a good recipe and a good pan for that recipe.

                  Start w/ all ingredients at room temp, not just the cheeses.

                  Parchment around the bottom round might help. Don't feel like you have to cut it exactly. The easiest way is to fold a square of parchment in half, then fold that again so you have a quarter circle. Approximate the size of the pan and cut but it will be smaller. You don't need to buy the parchment rounds suggested by Amazon that fit the pan perfectly.

                  Pay attention to the cook time. Start looking at 35-40 minutes (because you're using a larger pan than the recipe calls for). The cheesecake will look uncooked in the middle, only the outer 1/3 should be firm. I like to turn off the oven when it's done, prop the oven door open w/ a wooden spoon, and let the air slowly cool down. One reason cheesecakes crack is the sudden temperature drop when you remove it from a hot oven. Let us know how that cheesecake is!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowser

                    Thank you so much. I'm so excited to try this with all these tips. I will definitely post an update.

                  2. I can tell you one thing if you're afraid of having water leak in your waterbath. Use a 'substitute' water bath! I am terrified of water leaking in and having a soggy, watery crust that doesn't even look good, so I always, always, always put a pan of water directly underneath the cheesecake! What I mean is, bake your cheesecake with a pan of water underneath, not touching the cheesecake. Imagine a shelf. The cheesecake's on the top baking, and the water's on the bottom. Works just the same, keeps the cheesecake baking evenly and I never, ever get cracks! I have no idea why :D I guess I'm just lucky, and I hope you have the same luck as me whenever I make a cheesecake! Don't be intimidated, just follow the instructions and 99% of the time it comes out awesome.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: desserina

                      Thank you for the encouragement. I hope it will work out, I tend to mess up baking and end up going through several tries before getting it right. Hopefully not this time. Going to do one trial run and then hoping to make this for my in laws when they visit.

                    2. That recipe looks great and I plan to try it; I made one once with goat cheese and liked it a lot, but I think those who eat this must like goat cheese in order to like this cheesecake.

                      I bought a new pan but have not gotten around to trying it out yet. The one CI liked the best was $50 and they said this one was almost as good and only cost $13.65.
                      http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Lea...

                      Have you ever tried a Japanese cheesecake? Really delicious. I make one with a layer of apricot jam on top.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: walker

                        Thanks. My pan was bigger than I realized so I'll check out this one, I think I want to buy one that is the same size the recipe calls for. I don't even know what Japanese cheesecake is, will have to look that up!

                      2. One more question: can anyone tell me would this freeze okay? I read that a cream cheese one freezes well, but not sure about this one. Thank you!

                        23 Replies
                        1. re: bythebay

                          I think this one will freeze well. I freeze goat cheese when I know I won't get around to using it before it goes bad. You asked if the 9x3 pan will work and I think that should be fine.

                          1. re: MrsJonesey

                            Thank you for both tips. I'm very excited to try this out.

                            1. re: bythebay

                              I am looking forward to hearing your report on this cheesecake. I am thinking of making it myself. I just looked at the recipe again. It calls for 1/4 tsp. black pepper and only 1/2 cup sugar. Very interesting!

                              ETA: Googled until I found who is probably the source: Melissa Clark in the NYT. Here is her write-up on it: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/din...

                              1. re: MrsJonesey

                                Well done.

                                1. re: MrsJonesey

                                  MrsJonesy, Did you make it? I just received the pan I ordered in the correct size. In the info that comes with the pan it says to turn the temp down 25 degrees due to the "efficiency of the bakeware." Should I do this or assume the recipe already takes this into account for this type of pan?

                                  1. re: bythebay

                                    Turn it down. Lower is better; it might just take a little longer so don't go strictly by time. You can always turn it back up if it's not cooking enough.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Thanks, how will I know it's done for sure and ready to take out?

                                      1. re: bythebay

                                        When the outer third is cooked (center pretty jiggly), I turn off the oven, prop open the door w/ a wooden spoon and leave it for an hour. The residual heat continues to cook it and you don't get the sudden change of temperature by removing it that sometimes causes cracking.

                                        If you want to remove it right away, then then center 1/3 should be jiggly when you remove it.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Thanks a lot, might try it this weekend if I can.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I messed up and missed the part about turning off the oven. I opened the door but left the oven on. So now, the center is not jiggly. We'll see if it still turns out okay. This is why I always have to do a trial run, I always mess something up!

                                            Also, I could not for the life of me figure out how to prop the oven door open with a spoon! Maybe it's because of the type of oven I have (Wedgewood)? Anyway I used a stool to hold it open and that ended up working fine. Wish I'd turned the oven off when propping the door open!

                                            1. re: bythebay

                                              Cheesecake is forgiving. Even overcooked, it won't be as creamy but still will be good (some prefer it that way). And, you'll be covering so cracks won't be a problem. I also think the low temperature will make a difference and not dry it out/overcook it as much. Propping a door open:

                                              https://www.google.com/search?q=prop+...

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Thanks. It's a tiny bit browned and sort of got wrinkly on top like a skin on it. Amazingly it didn't really crack. Maybe one minuscule one.

                                                Thanks for the link. I opened the oven door A LOT more than that! Maybe that helped at least since I didn't turn the oven off.

                                                The cake is much shorter than I expected. It's also kind of sunken around the edges, not straight up and down at all. Is all that due to overbaking? It looks nothing like the picture!

                                                I saw on the post with the recipe somebody else made it and linked to a pic of their creation and it, too, was short. http://media-cache-ak1.pinimg.com/ori...

                                                But the pic in the recipe post is so tall, that's what I was hoping for. Do you think that person used a different pan or doubled the recipe or something?

                                                1. re: bythebay

                                                  Other than heating up your house, leaving the door open a lot probably helped that it didn't overcook. That and a low temp were probably your saving grace.

                                                  If you post a picture of it, it might help diagnose but I don't think overbaking would do it. Maybe you overbeat the eggs? It might have puffed and then sank a little. Let us know how it tastes. It looks really good!

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Here's a pic, see how the sides slope. It looks taller in the pic than it actually is too. It's been in the fridge a few hours, it tastes okay. I guess I'm not even a big cheesecake fan (but I love goat cheese) so I can't tell if it's not great because it's not great or because I don't really care much about cheesecake now that I think about it. One thing I know, it definitely does not look impressive.

                                                     
                                                    1. re: bythebay

                                                      When did you remove the sides? It need to be completely cool. I remove the sides after it has cooled, then put it back on to store in the refrigerator. Sorry you didn't like the way it tasted, after all that work! It does get better w/ age but maybe you just don't like cheesecake, even if it has goat cheese (I'm responding to what you said below up here).

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        Good question. I was impatient and didn't wait till it was totally cool, maybe that's why it sunk like that? You know the taste wasn't bad in retrospect, but not my favorite dessert. My husband said it was really really good and I'm planning on making it again for guests next week. I'm hoping to make it early and freeze it. Would I just let it get cool, put in fridge, then wrap in cling wrap/freezer bag and then let it thaw a day or so before serving? Thanks so much for all your tips on this!

                                                        1. re: bythebay

                                                          I can't say for sure why it drooped like that but if you don't let it cool and set, it could do that. To freeze, I would let it cool completely, remove the sides. Freeze for about half an hour uncovered. You can wrap it slightly frozen w/out it sticking to the plastic. Do a few layers (2-3), Put the sides back on and freeze. The sides will protect the cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight to thaw.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Great thank you. I hope I get a much nicer looking one this time since it will be for my in-laws!

                                      2. re: bythebay

                                        Darker pans come with that advice; I'd follow it.

                                        1. re: walker

                                          Should I lower it when preheating too (it says to preheat at 325 then turn down to 250 to bake).

                                          The pan also said to use that floured oil spray when baking in it. I should follow that tip too, I guess?

                                          Thank you!

                                          1. re: bythebay

                                            Yes, I would lower it 25 degrees each time; maybe others here with more experience will offer their opinions.

                                            1. re: bythebay

                                              Did you flour the sides of the pan? It almost looks like something helped the sides to rise more than the center. To prop an oven door open, stick the wooden spoon between the top of the door and the top of the oven. The spring action on the door should keep the spoon in place. What you're looking for is about an inch of opening.

                                              The floured oil spray will help with removal. I'd try that once just to see how it goes. You probably don't need the parchment if you do that.

                                              1. re: blaireso

                                                No I didn't use any oil or spray. I will try the over door thing again thank you!

                                2. I like cheesecake, and I like this recipe you posted which I am going to try. Soon.

                                  I had many problems with our first springform leaking for a few years. Then I found this Dr. Oetker pan, which allows a springform cake, cheesecake, or torte to be made without the need for parchment paper or foil. It is one of the best I have owned for making Sachertorte.

                                  The key is here is a thick removable silicone gasket between the pan sides and the bottom that prevents leaks. That includes placing the pan in a water bath.

                                  There are two bottoms included with the pan. One smooth and one indented with a centre circle, as shown in the box cover. All the parts including the gasket can be washed by hand or in a dishwasher. My wife enjoys the fact there is no more mess, especially oven burned leaks.

                                  I usually mix lemon, poppy seed, or chocolate in my recipes. Attached are a few photos.

                                   
                                   
                                   
                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                    Thanks, it looks really nice. I love poppyseed, especially with lemon. Now you're making me hungry!

                                    1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                      Ooh, I think I might get one of these now. Thanks for the tip

                                    2. When mixing, stop to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl often. Then after mixing, give a few more turns with your rubber spatula to make sure there are no unmixed bits left.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        Thank you. With all these tips hopefully I will get it just right on the first try.

                                      2. I suggest you invite me over immediately as the official "Quality Control Monitor".

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Ha! I seriously could use one of those!

                                        2. Hi, bythebay:

                                          This is the recipe for the best cheesecake I've ever had: http://www.food.com/recipe/pagliaccis... I drive 90 miles for it.

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo (Hawai'ian for "Waistline Bigger Than Inseam")

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            K-

                                            I saw your post, and will try it Sunday morning, using a Dr. Oetker backform.

                                            Looks good, but if it is you will drive more than 90 miles this time to try it !

                                            Cheers,

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              I might try this recipe. I have very fond memories of eating delicious lasagna at Pagliaccis in Victoria.

                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                Thank you, looks good!

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  I'm really intrigued by the baking time and temps here, plan to try it next time. Have you baked it? I've got one with a sour cream topping that is baked on after the cheesecake cools a bit and you crank up the temp again. I printed out the recipe on your link and it looks killer. Thanks for sharing.

                                                2. I'm not big on sweets - so I am not experienced when it comes to baked goods - but I had company a few months ago - and searched on youtube for a recipe, and found one video for New York Cheesecake Recipe by HowdiniGuru - with a step by step recipe and other useful suggestions (like how to line the pan) - and it came out absolutely awesome - and this was a comment given to me by a professional chef!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: acssss

                                                    Wow, good job! I hope I do as well with mine.

                                                  2. Fat Daddio's Pans are always terrific. Another good option is a new pan from Kuhn Rikon and is available on Amazon, Sur La Table etc. It is a great pan. They call it a Push Pan. The pan is constructed with a removable bottom as are most pans for cheese cakes. This particular pan is not a spring form like others. The bottom of the pan has a silicone gasket and that keeps any liquid, like water out. It is a very tight seal. Many cheese cake recipes want the cakes to be baked in a water bath. When removing the cake you push up the bottom. I have both an 8" and a 9" round they are also deeper than most cheesecake pans.

                                                    A parchment round in the bottom is preferable. It makes it easy to slide the cake on to a serving platter

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                      Thanks. Do you leave the parchment on or slide the cake out from the parchment?

                                                      1. re: bythebay

                                                        Leave the cake on the parchment. Just remember it when you're serving!

                                                    2. Well I messed up a bit on this but for first try it was okay. I remembered that I don't really like cheesecake and even though I love goat cheese, I still didn't love this. My husband said it was really good as did a friend I shared with. I may make it again for family even though I wasn't that excited about it. I think those who like cheesecake will like it. Hopefully it will look nicer next time too. The sauce with blueberries was pretty good and once I put the sauce on the whole thing looked a lot better too. And I didn't get any cracks in it so that was great.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: bythebay

                                                        Hi bythebay. Sorry you weren't that impressed with this recipe. No, I have not made it. Be sure to taste it in another day or so. In my experience, cheesecake is at its best a few days after baking. Would you have been able to tell it had goat cheese in it if you hadn't made it yourself?

                                                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                          Yeah it seemed like a different consistency than regular cream cheese cheesecake. I did like it better. I gave it all away before I could taste is more aged, since my husband and I have been on a diet and didn't want to keep sweets in the house. But next time I will bake it early and let it sit for a day or two. Thank you!

                                                          1. re: bythebay

                                                            Good to know. Thanks. I hear ya not wanting to keep sweets in the house. I have all but stopped baking since the kids have flown the coop.

                                                            1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                              I love baking but I try to get it out of the house as soon as possible after a taste. Coworkers and neighbors are great for that. ;)

                                                      2. Use the slowest speed on your mixer, and scrape the sides frequently. Goal is to minimize incorporating air. I've used springform pans for 40 years, no water bath, and as long as you let the cheesecake cool gradually it shouldn't crack. My absolute favorite cheesecake recipe is the New York Style Cheesecake from "The New Antoinette Pope School Cookbook", 1961 edition. It's very rich, with a sour cream topping. I agree with MrsJonesey, a springform pan will be much easier, but if you've already got the pan, use the parchment and go for it! My DH doesn't like goat cheese, and I'm not sure if you can get the creamy texture with it but maybe you can fiddle with the proportions and come up with something that pleases all. If you use a springform, you can serve directly on the bottom, but I'd suggest from experience that you line the bottom with parchment to protect the pan from scratches.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: blaireso

                                                          Thank you. I am mixing it all by hand. I have no mixer! Any tips for doing it by hand?

                                                          1. re: bythebay

                                                            like someone said, make sure all ingredients are room temp. you can leave the cream cheese out overnight, but in a coolish place (hey, it's 108 in Las Vegas!). If you have a spoon with a hole in the middle, it will help. Otherwise, think of this as a great workout! Maybe start with a large serving type fork with big tines, then switch as it loosens to something more efficient or a sturdy wooden spoon. Once the cheese is fairly easy to mix, beat in the eggs, etc. I have a couple of old whisks that use piano wire and are really sturdy, they might work but as everyone says, be careful not to beat air into the mix.

                                                            1. re: blaireso

                                                              Thank you. How do I avoid beating air in?

                                                              1. re: bythebay

                                                                Just don't get too energetic. Low and slow. Think about whipping egg whites, you whip like crazy and eventually the air makes them froth. This is the opposite. Start by mushing the cheese until it's fairly maleable, add ingredients in the order mentioned. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl. Take your time, there is nothing in this recipe that needs special handling. You'll be fine!

                                                        2. I'm trying it again to freeze. I left everything out about 5 hours to get to room temp. Is that too long? Have the ingredients gone bad?

                                                          31 Replies
                                                          1. re: bythebay

                                                            I think your ingredients are fine. They need to be room temperature to mix well anyway.

                                                            You said you don't have a mixer. (And I remember you said you love to bake! Your forearms must be very toned. lol.) Just whisk till it's smooth. It might be easier to whisk each ingredient separately, maybe using the creme fraiche to thin out the cream cheese and the goat cheese before combining the two.

                                                            1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                              Ok so I won't poison my in laws, with the creme fraiche etc. out for 5 hours?

                                                              I also put them back in the fridge after posting here, waiting to see if I got a reply. So they were out for 5 hours, then in the fridge for a bit too. Still okay?

                                                              Ha ha, not so toned, just tenacious I guess. Don't know why I don't break down and get a mixer, my husband always thinks I should!

                                                              1. re: bythebay

                                                                Nah, you won't poison your in-laws. Baking should kill anything that might have started developing. To make "homemade creme fraiche" you leave it at room temperature for 24 hours, so that should make you feel better.

                                                                Yes, you need a mixer! If you don't want to spend the big bucks for a stand mixer, the hand mixers are very reasonable. Would you believe my handheld, which I bet my Mom only paid $10 for, is still going strong 30+ years later? I never thought I needed or wanted a stand mixer, but DH got mine through his employer's reward program. I don't use it very much now, but I do love it, especially for kneading dough and pound cakes.

                                                                1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                  Okay thank you. I was so worried I started another thread about it! Yeah, I think this might be the year I break down and just get one. I like to keep things simple and minimal but a hand mixer should not be a big deal or take up much room. Maybe for Christmas or just a gift to myself :) A $10 one still going strong 30 years later is awesome!

                                                                  1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                    Also MrsJonesy I have to confess. It's kind of like what I've heard said about writing: I don't know if I actually love baking, I think I love having baked. During the process I usually hate it, mainly because I always seem to mess up so much and have to try one recipe so many times! That never happens to me with cooking. Hopefully I'll become more knowledgeable about technique over time and start enjoying the whole thing a lot more!

                                                                    1. re: bythebay

                                                                      I think a mixer will make things much easier and a hand mixer doesn't take much room. It might even improve your success rate! I bet your anxiety is the cause of all your troubles, if I may presume. I used to get anxious about getting everything ready at one time for a meal, which led to quite a few flubs. I finally realized what I was doing to myself and started giving myself pep talks every time I felt that anxiety. "You are in control. What's the worst that can happen? Most things can be fixed." Yada yada. It really helps!

                                                                      Anyway, I hear ya about the difference between loving doing something vs. loving the results. I am that way about gardening. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I love gardening. Truth is I keep asking myself why did I ever think I loved gardening. All that back-breaking work, sweating like a pig, bugs eating me alive. But it does wonders for my mental well-being. And all these gorgeous plants keep coming home with me somehow. Not to mention the joy of eating vegetables I grew.

                                                                      Anyway again, go buy that mixer! You deserve it!

                                                                      1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                        I think it's actually my ADHD not anxiety. I just don't seem to have that right personality for baking, yet why do I always want to do it? I always misread something or just get something mixed up just enough to mess up the whole thing, it's a total ADD hallmark. But I also just lack experience so I don't know some basic things that can make a big difference in baking. Cooking isn't that way at all, things always seem to work out for me and it's easy to be flexible and make stuff up and fudge a bit and it all works. That suits my personality a lot more. Baking seems so exacting. But I like baking stuff and sharing it with people so I want to keep trying.

                                                                        Well I tried the cake again and it still sunk in the middle like last time. Maybe it does have to do with how I mixed it somehow and maybe it really is time to buy the mixer? I might just order some now so I can use them for when I have to make this for guests. Any tips on using the hand mixer for this? I haven't used them since I was a little kid making cake with my mom!

                                                                        I like your gardening analogy, it is sort of that way for me with baking. I love it and hate it both! Actually I truly do like the process, despite what I said before. The part I don't like is messing up!

                                                                        1. re: bythebay

                                                                          When I say a hand mixer, I mean an electric one. I'm not sure if that is what you meant or you were talking about what we used to call egg beaters. I wouldn't bother with those. Check on Amazon and see which ones get the best reviews.

                                                                          I did a quick google and it seems sinking in the middle could be due to not enough beating. http://www.thekitchn.com/the-perfect-...

                                                                          1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                            Hmm, that's interesting, thank you. I was trying not to overbeat, so maybe that is the culprit and I underdid it instead. Yes, I was thinking the electric kind too, although I do remember that other type also.

                                                                            Also maybe I should spray the sides of the pan with that flour oil spray. One of the comments on that link said the sinking could be due to sticking to the pan sides. I might try putting a pan with hot water under the cheesecake too like some suggested. So not a water bath exactly but still serving a similar purpose.

                                                                            1. re: bythebay

                                                                              IMHO, greasing and flouring the sides of a pan will cause the batter to stick to the sides, not slide. Therefore, if your batter is climbing up the sides of the pan, this is not the best strategy. Check out MrsJonesy's link about not enough beating.

                                                                              1. re: blaireso

                                                                                Thanks, sounds like I need to beat it fluffy at first but then around the egg part just mix and not much beating at all. Will try to beat more in the early stages.

                                                                                What do you think of putting a pan of water on the lower shelf? Or might that make it too soggy, or introduce a new element and mess with what I've already tried and make things too confusing?

                                                                                1. re: bythebay

                                                                                  I don't think "fluffy" is the consistency you're looking for. Try for smooth and creamy. In terms of a pan of water on the lower shelf, not sure. IMHO the purpose of the water bath is to promote even temperatures all the way around the cake, not for humidity. I've never tried it, but that doesn't mean it won't help.

                                                                      2. re: bythebay

                                                                        I happen to love baking, I like the precision of it, along with the tactile part with pastry and bread. Just keep at it and you might start to enjoy it. I particularly like making pie crusts in the fall, in quantity, and freezing balls for holiday use. Those I make by hand. But....

                                                                        A standing mixer will make your baking life a helluva lot more simple and pleasant. I really thought long and hard about buying my Kitchen Aid standing mixer--in 1975! And it's still going strong. Back in the 70s I made my own bread, and this appliance changed my life. I'm getting back into bread baking, mostly because I don't like all the junk that is added into products these days. I paid about $250 in 1975, an enormous amount for our married student budget. I suggest that it was money well spent. Remember, you'll never buy it again.

                                                                        With baking, unlike "regular" cooking, you do have to measure at least for the first attempt at a recipe. Then make notes. Every climate needs adjustment, every palate likes more lemon, more cinnamon, etc. As you get better at it, you'll figure out what you need to adjust to make it "just right."

                                                                        As for cheesecake, I dump the cheese in along with everything else, set the KA to the first speed, and walk away. Make the crust while mixing, pour the mix in and bake. My arms no doubt look a lot less toned than yours!

                                                                        Good baking! Like the pan pointed out, I may just have to buy one.

                                                                        1. re: blaireso

                                                                          So what about getting a hand mixer to start? Any recommendations on one? I should still do okay with that for now right? Better than actually mixing by hand? Not ready for the bigger investment yet.

                                                                          And I have to take back what I said about not liking baking I really do like it a lot. I just don't like that I have to try each recipe at least 3 times before I succeed because I keep messing up. But you know what, that success feels sooo good! And baking requires a certain patience and exactness that is good for me to practice but is not my strong suit.

                                                                          I'm hoping that as I do more I will learn more like you say and get better at it. I think I have gotten better, it's just I have such a long way to go that it doesn't really show yet. :)

                                                                          So far I've learned how to bake shortbread cookies very well and hopefully cheesecake will be next on my list as something I can say I know how to do and can make well each time without any big mess-ups.

                                                                          1. re: bythebay

                                                                            Shortbread cookies is a major accomplishment! Don't put yourself down.

                                                                            I have a Sunbeam hand mixer, it's got a few attachments like a whisk and beaters and a hook of some kind. The whisk is really great for whipping small amounts of cream in a 2 cup mixer (about 1/2 cup or less) for desserts for two-four. The two beaters seem to work for cookie doughs, pancakes, cakes. The hook is for kneading, but I haven't used it much. If budget is an issue, check Goodwill stores, etc, sometimes older appliances are sturdier and all they need is a good cleaning.

                                                                            My suggestion would be to start with a "classic" recipe and master that, then move on to more advanced recipes.

                                                                            1. re: blaireso

                                                                              What are some classic recipes? Any suggestions?

                                                                              Thanks about the shortbread. It's been great to learn because there are so many variations. I don't like doing the same thing too many times so I like the variations and different flavors you can do with shortbread. I've also made an olive oil bundt cake but had a lot of trouble with it. Came out good in the end but the baking was hard, and it burned several times, still not sure how I got it to work so I'm not sure I could recreate it. And I did an upside down fruit cake that I really liked althoug I made it in a loaf pan and didn't adjust baking properly so a tiny bit was undercooked. Also some homemade ice creams but that's not exactly baking. It's fun but I have a lot to learn.

                                                                              Thanks for the hand mixer tips!

                                                                              1. re: bythebay

                                                                                By classic recipe, I mean a basic cheesecake with cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla, etc. Once you learn how to make a core recipe you'll feel more confident making changes. Best way to find one is to look in well-known cookbooks or online. Before I try something new I like to look up as many recipes as I can find and compare them. Pay attention to the proportions, the cooking temperature and time. The basic method (mix, fold) should be the same.

                                                                                Re the hand mixer, don't spend too much unless you are going to use it as your primary mixer for a long time. I looked online and found them from $25-$100 (which is a ridiculous amount). You might find them for less at garage sales, Goodwill, KMart, etc.

                                                                                1. re: blaireso

                                                                                  Thanks Blairso, I guess I often jump in full steam ahead on a variation before trying the basic version of a recipe first. It's a good idea to do so if I can get myself to do it! I think I finally got a good version of this one, but I won't know till I try it later this week. It looks presentable for guests which is a good first step. I did use the water pan underneath, not sure if it made any difference or not, but it didn't seem to hurt. Still hoping to get a pic once I defrost and post it here, after all the help I got!

                                                                                  1. re: bythebay

                                                                                    I just read a Cooks Illustrated article about why cheesecakes crack--talk about great timing! According to them, two issues: overcooking and sides sticking to the pan. They say to use an instant read thermometer and remove the cake from the oven when the center reads 150 degrees. The residual heat will continue to cook the cake so it firms up, and will firm up even more when you chill it after it's completely cooled. Also, after the cake is out for about 5 minutes, take a paring knife and run it around the sides of the cake. As the cake cools it will collapse a bit (normal) and if the sides stick too much you'll get that raised effect. Definitely worth a shot.

                                                                                    1. re: blaireso

                                                                                      Just a note: Cooks was really off on a pumpkin pie recipe .. I followed their directions and it was definitely undercooked in the middle.

                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                        I agree, different ovens cook differently. Two uses for that knife: one, to stick into the middle of the cheesecake to test for doneness; two, to free up the sides of the cake!

                                                                                        IMHO, because pumpkin has a lot of moisture and is by nature kind of "heavy" it pays to trust the recipe, but trust your instincts more. Like you, I always follow a recipe exactly the first time, and after that I adjust. Hate to waste ingredients and time on something you're not happy with in the end.

                                                                                        My favorite pumpkin pie recipe is the one on the back of the Libby's can, except that I add 1/4 cup of brandy as the last step. I definitely check the center as it bakes with a knife and don't take it out until the knife comes out just barely clean. I'll probably try using a thermometer, but still use my trusty butter knife as a double check.

                                                                                        1. re: blaireso

                                                                                          The Cook's pumpkin pie recipe says (if I remember correctly) to take it out at a certain internal temp -- it still jiggles. They claim it continues to cook when you take it out of the oven but mine did not work out. I'd cook it longer next time.

                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                            I adore my Libby's modified recipe, so I'll stick with that. However, no matter what temp they say to use, I still stick with my knife test with pumpkin pie. As for cheesecake, the jiggle method is probably okay as the mass is far greater and will continue to cook. I plan to try the 150 degree method once, and if it doesn't work I'll go back to my trusty knife method. Remember, bythebay, your experience is worth more than following instructions exactly.

                                                                                            Oh, bythebay, I'm not sure if I forgot to mention that! If your thermometer reads 150 internal temp and you're not sure, and your oven is true to temperature, just leave it another 10 minutes or so, then check again. The jiggle method mostly work but, as with all baking, it depends! Your repeated experience will tell you what stage to remove from the oven.

                                                                                            All this kibbitzing is no doubt confusing you, but hang in there. Practice makes perfect (or mostly). Your instinct to make something before you trot it out to company is so right! We all do this.

                                                                                            enjoy baking, even the "practice" attempts are worthwhile and no doubt delicious.

                                                                                      2. re: blaireso

                                                                                        Thank you! I actually read that tip about the knife somewhere and did that on my last try. It might have helped. I had no sinking and no cracking. The overcooking might have been an issue for me too. I realized my oven is too hot and I think that's why I've had so many baking disasters. Going to be buying an oven thermometer soon!

                                                                                        1. re: bythebay

                                                                                          An oven thermometer is absolutely a must. My ovens are all over the place, so I made a little chart. If I want 350 I have to set it at 335. If I want 425, I set it at 425, but 450 gets set at 340, and so on. Once you get that thermometer, invest a couple of hours in figuring out your settings and stick the note on the inside of your cupboard. I had to have a heating element and a control unit replaced last year and had to recalibrate all over again. And if I think my thermometer is starting to fail, since I have two ovens I use the second thermometer to double check. The other thermometer you ought to consider getting is an instant read, either digital or dial type, handy for meats as well as baking. Check it for accuracy also, boil water and see if you get 212. The third thermometer, way down the list unless you make candy or deep fry frequently, is a candy thermometer, really useful for checking oil temperature. Mine is probably 30 years old, if you are careful with them they'll last and the design is unchanged. One other I see mentioned on Chowhound is the kind for barbeques and such where you aim it and it gives you the temp. They're pricy and I haven't bought one.

                                                                                          1. re: blaireso

                                                                                            Thank you. I'm definitely going to do this. I feel a lot more confident in my baking now after realizing I probably have an oven temp issue that's at fault. I never had baking problems before living in this apartment!

                                                                                            As an update, made the cheesecake, froze and defrosted it. It seemed to get a bit too moist defrosting in the plastic. But tasted great and firmed up more over the next couple days. I would definitely make this cheesecake again. It was really good with the strawberry sauce I made to go with it, but also good on its own.

                                                                                            1. re: bythebay

                                                                                              We can all learn from others' experience here. I'm going to try the Pagliacci's recipe, shared by kaleokahu. Check out the baking instructions, very high and then very low.

                                                                                              I've never frozen a cheesecake before. Do you recommend defrosting a couple of days before you plan to serve it?

                                                                                              Thanks for sharing your experiences, very interesting discussion.

                                                                                              1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                If I froze again I'd probably defrost at least one day before but I think I would also defrost it out of the plastic wrap, that seemed to make it to moist.

                                                                                                I have to say despite all the trouble I had I had no cracks in my first and third tries and I'm attributing it to the leaving the oven door open technique. That seemed to work great!

                                                                                              2. re: bythebay

                                                                                                Glad to hear you were happy with your last cheesecake. Even more glad to hear you have discovered the cause of your baking woes. I see many wonderful baked goodies in your future!

                                                                                                1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                                                  Thank you MrsJonesy! I'm so excited for more baking, I'm already thinking about what I'll make next. I don't normally even like cheesecake but ended up loving this one. It was great with sauce and also just plain too. I was thinking to try frasier cake maybe for my next try. I was surprised a search on here didn't bring up any results for that. I'd never heard of it before but saw it online today and it looks great. Thanks for your encouragement!

                                                                                2. re: bythebay

                                                                                  Some mixers have attachments, some do not. The Kitchen Aid hand mixers seem to appear on many cooking shows, however the beaters are more whisk-like so make sure if your intent is mainly cheesecake that it has a slo-o-w speed. You don't want to whip the batter, too much air. You'll get there.

                                                                    2. Maybe third time's the charm. I got a nice looking one that didn't sink at all . Not sure if it overcooked since the middle wasn't jiggly when I took it out of the oven but hopefully it's fine.

                                                                      I let it cool, chilled it, then froze it. The only weird thing was it had little bubbles, like little air bubbles on top. But otherwise looks really nice and I feel good about serving it to guests. I was thinking of making a strawberry sauce for the topping. Hope it will taste good. Will find out later this week!

                                                                      Thanks everyone for all the help. I put a pan of water below it this time and did the off oven with a spoon in the door thing. No cracks!

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: bythebay

                                                                        Hooray! I'm sure it will be delicious.

                                                                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                          Thank you! I'm so excited at how nice it looks (except for the bubbles). Will try to post a pic of the end product before serving. Thanks for all your help and encouragement. :)

                                                                          1. re: bythebay

                                                                            You are very welcome! I think if you sort of plop the pan on the counter a couple times right before putting it in the oven, it will cause those air bubbles to collapse.

                                                                            1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                              Thank you. I will for next time. I'm already dreaming about making pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I just had a slice of my trial 2, which had cracked a bit, and after a couple days in the fridge, it was really, really good. Hope the 3rd try for guests will be just as good or better!