Cheesecake 101!

Hey who likes cheesecake?

I’ve had a request for a cheesecake post, so here it is, this one’s for you Jenny M.

This is going to be more of a tutorial than a recipe post, but I will provide the recipe at the end of the post.  Y’all know I wouldn’t leave ya hanging!

There are some pretty specific steps to the way I make cheesecake.  I am going for a very creamy texture, and NO CRACKS, just say no to cracks!  If you follow the steps as I show them, you will get a nice creamy crack free cheesecake, if you go all rogue, then you’re on your own and I can’t be held responsible for the results.

This basic method will work with virtually any baked cheesecake recipe that you encounter.

First lets talk water bath.  This is a step that is the most crucial to achieving that creamy texture.  A water bath tempers the heat of the oven and helps it bake very gently and very evenly.  Cheesecake is a custard, a custard is thickened and set with eggs.  Eggs are delicate, overcooking will cause them to seize, making a cheesecake that has a rough almost cottage cheese like texture, that’s definitely not what we are going for here.

OK let’s get our pan.  A spring form pan is what is most often used to bake a cheesecake, they have removable bottoms, which makes it so much easier to get them out of the pan. It also makes them LEAK!  So we need to wrap that pan in a couple layers of WIDE heavy duty aluminum foil.  You need the wide stuff, a seam will let in water, and that’s what we are trying to prevent.

bring up the foil and make sure that there aren’t any deep creases in the side that will let in water.

See that wasn’t too hard!

Now we’ll make a graham cracker crust.

and press in to the pan.  I give it a light spray of pan spray grease, you know like PAM!  You can push the crust up the sides of the pan if you want to, it’s up to you.

Now on to the filling step.

You want all of your ingredients to be at room temperature, around 70-75 degrees, if you live in the jungle with no A/C, this might not be room temperature for you….  Take them out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter for an hour or so.  This is important, with all of the ingredients at the same temperature they will blend effortlessly.  You NEVER want to “whip” or over beat a cheesecake filling.  If you have to do this to get it smooth, then your ingredients were likely too cold.  Beating the filling, especially after adding the eggs will cause it to “puff” in the oven (the eggs will have a souffle effect), and as the cheesecake settles as it cools, it can crack, and often wrinkles.

First mix the cream cheese to smooth it out, using low speed on your mixer ( a hand mixer works just fine too).

Then add your sugar gradually, with the mixer still on LOW.

it should look like this.

Next combine all of your liquid ingredients, such as eggs, vanilla, and in this case sour cream.  Stir to combine.

Now slowly add the liquid mixture to the cheese mixture, still with the mixer on LOW.  Scraping the bowl as needed.

Mix until everything is combined and then STOP!

Silky smooth, with no air beaten into it.  Pour into the pan containing the crust.

The next step is preparing the water bath.  You’ll need a pan larger than your springform, I use a roasting pan.  You’ll want to pour about a 1/2 inch of boiling water into the roasting pan (or whatever pan you are using).  Then place the batter filled, wrapped pan in the water bath being careful not to let any water splash in.

Place in the preheated oven.  I would suggest a temperature between 300-325 degrees.  You have to know your oven, if it usually browns quickly, then maybe closer to 300, if it browns slowly, maybe closer to 325.

You’ll want to bake for the time specified in the recipe, always checking at the least amount of time and adding more if needed.  The cheesecake is done when the edges have set (slightly firm) and the center jiggles like Jello when the pan is gently shaken.  If it seems to slosh around in the middle and seem liquid, cook a bit longer, checking every 5 minutes.  Your first instinct is going to want to cook it longer, but try not to.  When it jiggles like Jello, it is done, trust me on this, if it is completely firm all the way across the top, it is overcooked and the texture will likely be more dry and cottage cheese like, and it will likely crack.  The cheesecake should not have risen much at all, it should be roughly the same height as it was when it went in.  Have you ever seen a pumpkin pie with a big crack down the center?  It was overcooked.  Pumpkin pie is a custard as well.

here it is, right out of the oven.  It is barely browned at all.  My oven is very accurate, and with the help of the water bath, it got a nice gentle bake.

Remove from oven and let sit for about 30 minutes in the water bath before removing the pan.

Place the cheesecake in the fridge for a minimum of 4-5 hours to get completely cold.  I always make my cheesecakes the night before.  The cheesecake will be much more sturdy if it is cold.

Run a thin knife or spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen.

And then run the knife under the crust to release.

and carefully slide on to serving plate.

Slice and serve!  You can see how smooth and creamy the filling is.

I know that this has been a really long and detailed post, but I wanted to share some good info with you.  If you want to improve your cheesecake skills or have been too intimidated to try making cheesecake, I hope that this tutorial will help, and maybe give confidence that you can make perfect cheesecake!

Printable recipe click here



Cakes, TechniquesPermalink

8 Responses to Cheesecake 101!

  1. Crumb Boss says:

    I don’t think its too long, its fabulous, very informative and the pictures are superb!

  2. Jess says:

    Nom! It was amazing as ususal! Best birthday present I got. ^_^ Yeah I know but still it was great that I was over there the day before to have some.

  3. Pingback: Strawberry Dessert Sauce! |

  4. Patty Collins says:

    I need the reciepe little brother to be able to make it LOL
    I love you

  5. michael says:

    Your cheesecake looks delicious! 🙂 I love cheesecake and make them all the time.

    Michael 😉

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