Tips To A Perfect Cheesecake
You’ve got the 2 pounds of cream cheese, the eggs, the sugar, vanilla, cookies for a crust.
You are set and ready to bake.
Stop right there!
The secret to perfect cheesecake is all in the details.
And it’s all here for you to discover Read these cheesecake tips before you even start preheating the oven.
Your inner cheesecake goddess will thank you. Trust me on this one!
Always use room temp cream cheese!
Just about every cheesecake recipe calls for “softened” cream cheese.
And that’s no accident.
Softened cream cheese is even creamier when mixed, and it blends better with the other ingredients in the recipe.
If the cream cheese is too cold, your mix will be lumpy, and so will your finished cake.
To prevent lumps, have everything at room temperature.
Remember: A lumpy batter going into the oven is still lumpy on the way out.
So having all of your ingredients at room temperature makes it much easier to combine everything thoroughly into a smooth and lump free cheesecake.
What can you do if you really don’t have time to wait for the cream cheese to soften at room temperature?
Put your unwrapped cream cheese bricks in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 20 second intervals until soft.
Add a little flour or cornstarch to lessen the risk of cracks!
The best cheesecake recipes call for a small amount of flour or cornstarch.
This tiny addition really makes a difference!
The starch chemically interacts with the protein in the eggs and prevents them from over coagulating.
This means a creamier texture and less risk of cracks.
More about cracks in a minute.
Use a springform pan!
That is a pan with a spring to hold the sides of the pan in place. The bottom is independent of the sides.
It is essential for cheesecakes. They’re delicate and have custard consistency once baked.
Inverting them on a cooling rack to remove from the pan just won’t work.
The removable sides of a springform solve this problem.
Remember to grease the bottom and sides of your springform pan to help with a smooth release.
Don’t over mix your batter!
For best texture, mix the batter at low speed. This makes it dense without being heavy.
Beat filling ingredients at low or medium-low speed.
Beating at high speed adds air to the batter. And longer or slower beating yields a more dense cake.
Mixing your cheesecake batter is a delicate balance.
You have to mix the cream cheese enough to remove any lumps, but incorporating too much air into the mix can cause the cake to rise too rapidly in the oven, then fall, then crack.
Since eggs are the part of the mix that really holds air, a good guideline is to mix thoroughly at first when you’re combining cream cheese and sugar. But blend more gently once the eggs are added.
Also, scrape, scrape and scrape again while mixing to make sure no lumps are clinging to the sides of the bowl.
Remember the water bath!
A water bath or bain-marie is the technique of putting your cake pan in a container of water while baking.
The water helps the heat disperse evenly, resulting in an evenly baked cake without those dreaded cracks.
Wrap outside the bottom and sides of your springform pan with aluminum foil.
Fill the pan with your batter. Place your filled springform pan in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with hot water high enough to come about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Then and put it all in the oven. See my Baileys Chocolate Chip Cheesecake for more information.
Avoid over baking!.
To ensure your cake is baked all the way through but not over baked use a baking thermometer..
The perfectly baked cake will register 175°F about 1″ from the edge of the pan.
Your cheesecake is done when the edges and top look mostly set. It will look a bit under cooked and will move slightly in the 3-4 inches in the very center of the cake.
Cheesecake baked at too high a temperature or for too long will crack.
Remove the cake from the oven when it still has this movement. It’ll continue to cook internally for a while then set as it cools.
Let it cool gradually!
For best shape, loosen the cake’s edges.
To help prevent a slumped center run a thin spatula or table knife all around the edge of the cake as soon as you remove it from the oven.
When your cake tests done, turn the oven off. Prop the door open a couple of inches, and leave the cake inside to cool completely in the cooling oven.
Resist the temptation to put your cheesecake right into the fridge after it comes out of the oven. Instead, let it reach room temperature on a wire rack. This can take a couple hours.
Putting a hot cheesecake in the fridge can make it sweat with condensation, and that makes the top get blotchy and sticky.
The cake tends to set heavier if it’s put in the fridge too soon. The shock of the temperature change can cause cracks in the top of your cake. Or worse slump in the middle
Cracks can be fixed!
Use lighter rather than darker pans. Dark pans absorb heat more quickly, leading to uneven baking.
Make sure your cake cools slowly. Cold can shock cheesecake into cracking.
If your cake cracks while baking, spread the top with sour cream 10 minutes before turning the oven off..
Even when you do everything perfectly, you might still get cracks.
If this does happen take action but not until the cake is completely chilled.
Run a knife under very hot water. Towel it dry, then run the knife gently over the crack. It should close the seam a bit, if not totally erase the crack.
If the sealed crack looks more like a scar on top of your cake, no problem. That’s your invitation to pour on the caramel, shaved chocolate or chocolate ganache .
Ensure it makes the cut!
The best tip for cutting a cake cleanly is to use a hot knife for each cut.
To do this, fill a tall container with hot tap water deep enough to cover the entire blade of your knife.
Dip the knife into the hot water, and wipe it dry on a clean towel before making each cut.
The constant dipping and cleaning will prevent chunks of cake from the previous slice from depositing on top of the next slice.
Some people prefer to cut cheesecake using unflavored dental floss. Flavored floss will leave flavored taste so stick to the unflavored kind.
Just like how a wire is used to cut clay, floss can cleanly cut cheesecake, and it leaves nice edges on your slice.
Hold the floss taut between your fingers with enough length to cover the cake.
Then use a gentle sawing motion to draw it down through the cake.
Fishing wire is also an option.
Store your cheesecake properly!
If you wrap the leftovers well they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Keep them away from strong smelling foods to make sure the older slice is just as perfect as when it was first baked.
Cheesecakes freeze really well. So feel free to bake in advance.
Just let it cool to room temperature. Put it in the freezer, uncovered, for 30-60 minutes.
Once you have determined it’s firm enough to remove from the springform pan, place it on a plate or cardboard serving circle and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Then put it back in the freezer.
Thaw for a few hours in the fridge before serving. Add your toppings once you are ready to serve.
Follow these tips and you will be making cheesecakes like the experts in no time!
Now that you know the secrets to a great cheesecake you may want to see Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Pecans
This article is part of the Tips That Help in the Kitchen Series, Tip Friday.
Most images in my Tip Friday Series use free stock photos.
Adapted from King Flour and Blueprint.