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Aug 9, 2014 10:50 PM

Cracked Cheesecake at bakery

I recently started working at a bakery as a counter boy. I have worked at a Japanese restaurant and at some Mexican restaurants, but never at a bakery. I must admit that it's new and there are many things that I don't know, but even with my inexperience I can see not everything is right in the bakery. Messy cakes with strawberries of all sizes that make decorations look sloppy, usage of trays without subsequent washing (the baker only tears off the wax paper and reuses the tray with a fresh one), frosting you can clearly taste the grease on and isn't smooth, etc. However what seems to me an obvious mistake is the presence of huge cracks on the cheesecakes. Now I must admit that I do not eat or bake cheesecake, I do not like it. But I always thought that cracks were a no-no, especially in a professional bakery. Am I crazy? Or is this normal?

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  1. Cheesecake cracks happen. Often they are filled in with a topping or sour cream - they are there, you just don't see them. The cheesecake expands as it heats and forms a skin that contracts and cracks as it cools. Are the bakers happy with the cheesecake? If they (and the customers) like the recipe and production methods, you should stay out of it.

    Do you have a source for perfectly uniform sized strawberries? At the price the bakery wants to pay?

    Not washing sheet pans between uses is common, even customary. If the sheet pan was covered with parchment the first time it was used, then covered with a fresh sheet of parchment the next time it was used, what do you think is going to be left on the sheet pan and bleed through the parchment? Wet sheet pans suck for baking.

    It may or may not be a good bakery, but those practices are normal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      Thank you for your response! I feel better knowing it's normal, mostly because at the restaurants I worked at things were done very very differently, but I should have known bakeries and restaurants are a completely different thing.

    2. Does the bakery use a water bath for the cheese cakes. The most common cause of cracks is high heat and low surrounding moisture. I agree, that most are covered with some fruit compote where the smaller cracks get hidden. Grease or lard in a frosting is a cheap way to make it, not something from a texture standpoint that I like. As for the reuse of a sheet pan, it was lined so I have no problem with that practice.

      4 Replies
      1. re: treb

        The commercial bakery I worked in (80,000 sq ft of production) never used water baths for baking cheesecakes. The commercial ovens had a function which allowed the release of steam into the oven if humidity level was too low. They baked about 300 each day. The spring form cake pans were placed on parchment on sheet-pans. The sheet-pans went on shelves that revolved in a cake oven. The cake oven had 6 shelves, each shelve could hold 4 sheet-pans. Our revolving tray bread ovens could hold 100 sheet-pans and the tunnel bread oven could hold 600 loaves at a time.
        As noted below cake tops were baked separately on parchment covered sheet-pans (they required about 12 minutes) and the cakes were assembled when cooled. Looking at the pictures I see cakes that baked too long or at too high a temperature. Looks like this bakery bakes a variety of items at the same time, might not have separate ovens for cake and breads and could use a better trained oven man.

        What consumers don't realise: commercial bakers don't bake, they mix and assemble the items to be baked. Oven men bake the assembled product.

        1. re: bagelman01

          Yah, I get the commercial side, maybe not enough humidity coming from the ovens.

        2. re: treb

          We do not use a water bath. The baker leaves the oven doors slightly open, and says the cheesecakes get enough moisture from the outside. Is this correct or could it influence the cracks on the cheesecakes?
          I do not have a problem with the reuse of a sheet pan per se, what bothers me is that sheets used for cake bars and brownies that leave residue in the sides unprotected by the lining are not washed thoroughly, there is usually still greasiness left.

          1. re: Monigote

            I don't agree with your baker that the cheesecakes get enough moisture from the oven door being left slightly open. That said, a water bath is not common in commercial baking. The cakes look like they are:
            1. overbaked-in oven too long
            2. baked at too high a temperature
            3. have too dry a batter to begin with
            4. any combination of the above

            The greasiness on the side of the sheet pans should not matter. Fir example the cheesecakes go in springform pans on the sheet pans. Chances are that when you make sheet cakes the baker inserts a rectangular frame into the sheet pan and then fills it. The residue on the side of the pan doesn't touch the batter. The pan is constantly rebaked and there is no health issue with the residue.

            At home you might scrub and use steel wool on your sheet pans after each use, I do. But not in a commercial operation. We tended to put sheet pans through the commercial washer about once per week unless there was a particular bad burnt on drip that could ruin the next item being baked.

        3. Back in the 1970s when I worked in the bakery business. Our cake department used to bake the tops for Cheesecakes separately, so as to avoid the cracking problem. The cakes would be assembled after cooling and then be put in the retail showcases.

          No problem reusing sheet pans by changing parchment paper, it's industry standard. In fact my daughter does it at home when baking batches of cookies.

          As for the frosting, it's a matter of taste. To you it tastes bad, but maybe it is what the customers like..........No accounting for taste,,,or lack thereof.

          1. Those cheesecakes look overcooked, especially in the oven. They're ready to come out of the oven when the outer 1/3 is fully cooked, center very slightly jiggly (I turn off my oven at that point, crack the door open and let it sit for an hour). The cheesecake will continue to cook until it's done. Given what you're saying about the bakery, I wonder what kind of experience the owners have w/ professional baking. Sometimes cracks come together in the refrigerator and cheesecakes do better w/ overnight refrigeration.

            1. Sounds like a Dump. Messy Sloppy Dirty Greasy Lumpy should not be adjectives for the place you work.