Cheesecake Baking Tips
These are just some quick cheesecake baking tips to help your next cake come out looking like they were baked by a professional.
When baking cheesecakes, always remember that softened cream cheese is a prerequisite and is used in most cheesecakes today. You’ll need to leave the cream cheese out at least 30 minutes before using it but it’s best to let it get to room temperature. The softer the cream cheese, the easier it is to mix.
Keep in mind cheesecakes can also be made from ricotta cheese, havarti, quark, twaróg cheese. Although most of the recipes found here and elsewhere use cream cheese, occasionally you’ll find recipes that require some of the latter. Be sure to let them warm up also and to follow whatever other directions the recipe may instruct for using them. For instance, if you use ricotta cheese, you’re going to need to drain it if it is watery.
Don’t over mix. Your filling should be custard like as oppose to cake-like. Add ingredients such as berries and nuts last. To get that swirl effect if you’re using melted chocolate or some sauce, pour out about a 1/3 of the batter in another bowl. Take the rest of the batter and pour it in your crust. Take the melted chocolate and pour it on top of the batter already on the crust. Next take the rest of batter and pour it on the chocolate and then take a knife or spatula gently swirl the mixture and Presto!! you’ve got your beautiful swirl effect.
Most of the recipes also call for eggs. This help with the consistency of the cheesecake. And it’s best to use the large or extra large ones. However, if you’re cutting back on your cholesterol, try eggbeaters or something similar to them. Personally I can’t taste the difference, but I know people who can tell if you used a brown egg or white one to bake. If you’re going to make a meringue, you’ll need real eggs since the whites from cartons don’t foam well.
You can also use low or non-fat cream cheese if very serious about cutting out the fat. It doesn’t have the same taste, but many people find using it just as appealing. If you want the real deal, you must use the full fat cream cheese, not the slow turned or light.
When cooking, always preheat the oven 15 – 30 minutes beforehand, 30 being better. This insures the oven will have an ambient temperature which also helps to prevent cracking.
And resist the urge to peak. You want the temperature to stay as consistent as possible. If you oven doesn’t have a window, wait at least 30 minutes before you look an do it quickly.
Never go above or below the recipes recommended cooking temperature. If the temperature is too high or if you cook too long, you’ll over cook and get a crusty topping–which also leads to cracking– as oppose to a nice creamy one with a slightly brown appearance.
Springform pans are the perfect pan for baking cheesecakes. With a release clamp on the side, the cheesecake can be lifted out without cracking or crumbling. I also recommend wrapping the bottom with aluminum foil before any baking. The butter from your crust may start to leak slightly even when using a small amount. Before taking the cheesecake out, it best to loosen the side of the pan with a spatula. Also the non-stick coatings makes clean ups a breeze.
Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into the mix is also a great idea to help prevent cracking. Cornstarch is also coagulant. That is a substance that causes a liquid to change into a thickened mass. This is why Junior’s and many other high-end cheesecake makers use it in their cheesecake recipes.
If your cheesecake still cracks, you may have over or under baked your cake which probably has to do with the oven’s temperature. I’ve used both gas and electric ovens and each baked differently. So 350°F on one oven may not be 350°F on another. The best way to determine if you’re at the right temperature is to use an oven thermometer. Not only will it show you the actual temperature of the oven, you’ll be able to bake cheesecakes and other baked goods with more consistency. If the cheesecake still cracks, turn the recommended baking temperature down 25 to 50 degrees.
Another method you can use to help prevent cracking is to put a pan of water in the bottom of your oven to moisten the atmosphere. The best method is to place the your cooking pan inside a pan filled with hot water to create a bath. The pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth. If you’re using a springform pan, wrap the bottom with aluminum foil to prevent the water from seeping into the cheesecake mix. Be careful when you remove it from the oven as it will be very hot.
Furthermore before taking the pan out of the water bath, place some paper towels on your counter. You should also take off the foil before placing the pan on the paper towels because some of the water may have made its way through the foil. This step helps to avoid unnecessary mess.
After you take the cheesecake from the oven, you want to let it cool on a wire rack or some other type of cooling rack. 20 to 30 minutes should be sufficient. You don’t want to let it cool this way for too much longer as this is another source of cracking. After this the final act of cooling should always take place in the refrigerator. I usually put an oven mitt on the refrigerator shelf just in case the pan is still hot enough to crack the glass shelf. Most cheesecake will cool within 2-3 hours, but it you have the time overnight is always best.
And finally, be creative . I like to look at a recipe as a guideline on how it should go. When I was growing up, I rarely remember my mother using a recipe book. Her thing was always to use thetaste test . She would always sample the mix before deciding if she needed to add more of any ingredient. And since everyone loves her cooking, I guess she was doing something right.
So if a recipe calls for a cup of sugar don’t be afraid to add a little less or a little more. After all, who knows better than you what you like. And if the recipe is called Cherry Cheesecake, that doesn’t keep you from adding raspberries if you like raspberries. All you have now is your very own Cherry-Raspberry Cheesecake Special.
And one last thing. Food is more that just nourishment for our bodies. It is also an expression of love . So have fun with these recipes and always, always make them with love. Not only will your family and friends appreciate it more, so will you. Enjoy.