people ask me how i manage to stay thin when i bake so many sweets. it’s easy, i make it a point to not bake the sweets i find impossible to pass up. that folks, is why i very rarely make a cheesecake! but every now and then, i bake one just so i can have a sliver or two.
when i had my bakery, i made lots of cheesecakes; we sold them wholesale and had several clients that would order them in quantity. with as many as i was making, i perfected my technique and learned just what it took to make a cheesecake with out a crack in the middle. my list of rules isn’t too long but if it is followed exactly, i can pretty much guarantee that your cheesecake will not crack.
1. reach over the name brand cheese-the one named for that yankee city and grab the full fat store brand because believe it or not, it makes a better cream cheese.
2. throw away the springform pan-yes, that’s right, throw it away. grab a heavy duty cake pan. the thicker the gauge, the better, because it will insulate the cake more as it bakes. springform pans are made from a thin gauge metal and they allow the cake to over bake more easily. the best part, a cake pan will not leak-another check in the plus column.
3. never mind the water bath. again, you heard that correctly. it isn’t necessary and it can be dangerous.
4. combine your ingredients(softened at room temp first) in a food processor-it will not incorporate air like a mixer will and air is your enemy. air expands when it is heated and when you incorporate lots of it into a cheesecake, the cheesecake expands and souffles when it bakes. and what do souffles do when they get to hot? they collapse and crack and look awful.
5. here is the tricky part-keep in mind that a cheesecake is not a cake, it is a custard that is treated like a cake. when the cake is about 3/4 of the way into the baking process, take it out of the oven and run a knife all the way around the edge to release the cake from the pan. only insert the knife about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch down the side of the pan. why do this? if you don’t, the cake will not be able to shrink after baking-remember that first part, it’s a custard and not a cake. custards need to shrink and contract a little after baking. if you don’t release it from the pan, the only thing it can do is crack down the center-the sides are stuck to the pan and the middle is the only part that “gives”.
6. lastly, cheesecakes baked in a cake pan need to chill for about 8 hours before you unmold them. to do this, wrap a flat plate with plastic wrap and spray it with grease. heat the bottom of the pan over the burner on your stove-it should be a little warm, not hot. gently give it a side to side shake to loosen it. place the plate on top and invert-the cake should slide out. place your serving plate on the cake and invert it again.