Cracks in Cheesecake

Cracks in a cheesecake, whether they happen during baking or cooling, can be caused by several different factors, extreme temperature changes, an oven temperature that's too high, too much air in the batter, baking for too long a time, or being placed in a drafy place to cool. Sometimes cracks just happen, despite your best efforts. But worry no -- the taste of the cake won't be affected. Here are some easy tips to prevent cracking or disguise them when they occur.

To prevent cracks in your cheesecake:

  • When the internal temperature of a cheesecake rises beyond 160°F while baking, it will always crack. To prevent this from happening, use an instant-read thermometer to test its doneness. Take it out of the oven when the cheesecake reaches 150°F at the center to avoid over baking.
  • A wonderful looking cheesecake (with no cracks), can crack as it sits on the cooling rack because the cake shrank during cooling and clung to the sides of the springform pan. To avoid this from happening, cool the cheesecake for only a few minutes, and then, using a paring knife, free it from the sides of the pan before allowing it to cool completely.

    Or generously grease the bottom and sides of the pan, preferably using Pan Release to avoid the cheesecake from sticking to the sides of the pan.
  • Too much moisture is lost as the cheesecake bakes. Put a pan of water on the bottom shelf directly under the shelf you are baking the cheesecake. Bake the cheese case as directed. When the cheesecake is done the filling should be set and the center should be moist and jiggle when moved. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door slightly, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for at least 1 hour or several hours until completely cool.

    Or bake the cheesecake in a "bain marie" or water bath. Simply line the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent the water from leaking in, then place the springform pan into a larger pan, such as a roasting pan. Place in the preheated oven and fill the outer pan with very hot water to reach 1/2 up the springform pan. Once the cheesecake is done, remove the water bath from the oven and return the springform pan to the oven, turn the oven off leaving the door ajar until the cheesecake has completely cooled.
  • If the batter is overbeaten the cheesecake will crack. Make sure you beat the ingredients at low speed. Unlike a butter cake, you do not want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter, you only want to beat the ingredients until they are nice and smooth.
  • Bake the cheesecake evenly at the same temperature. Use Bake Even or Magic Baking Strips to maintain the same temperature of the batter while it is baked. These strips are first soaked in very cold water then wrapped around the pan. They are available in the cake decorating section at retailer such as Walmart, JoAnn Fabrics, Michael's, or Meijers.
  • Cheesecakes containing flour or cornstarch tend to not crack as easily from overbaking. The starch molecules will actually get in between the egg proteins preventing them from over-coagulating. If the cheesecake recipe doesn't contain cornstarch or flour, simply add 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup of cornstarch to the batter with the sugar.
  • Bake the cheesecake at a lower temperature. If the temperature is too high, the egg proteins will over-coagulate from too much heat which eventually shrink when cooled, causing cracking usually in its center or tiny cracks all over its top. It is best to bake the cheesecake at 300 to 325°F. If you heat the cheesecake up to fast or cool it down too fast you will get cracks.
  • Air bubbles can cause cracks. Be sure to mix your cheesecake batter well, eliminating all possible lumps in the cream cheese BEFORE adding the eggs. It is the eggs that will hold air in the batter, so add them last, and mix as little as possible once they are in the mix.

If you're serving the cheesecake to guests, and appearance is important, here are a few tips to help disguise the cracks.

  • Top the cheesecake with sliced fruit. Any fresh fruit will do, but if you use bananas or peaches, remember to toss them in a bit of lemon juice to prevent them from browning before serving.
  • Spread the top with a thin layer of sour cream. This will add to the richness of the cheesecake and conceal any imperfections. Mix half a cup of sour cream with half a teaspoon of gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, mix well and spread carefully over the surface of the cheesecake, filling in the cracks and forming a thin layer on top. Put in a very low oven (250°F) for a few minutes, then cool and serve as normal.
  • Drizzle melted chocolate, fruit sauce or ice cream topping on top. Dip a fork in melted chocolate, fruit sauce (e.g., strawberry, raspberry or blueberry sauce), or ice cream topping (e.g., caramel topping, heated hot fudge topping) and drizzle a pattern on top of the cheesecake. It will give the cheesecake a new look.
  • Top with crushed cookies, chopped nuts, chopped chocolate pieces or chocolate curls. Sprinkle the top with the crushed or chopped pieces or chocolate curls or even chocolate shavings to add a flavorful addition and attractive garnishment to the cheesecake.

Related Links:

Cheesecakes

Making the Perfect Cheesecake

Baking the Perfect Cheesecake

Cutting a Cheesecake

Cheesecake Tips

Refrigerating and Freezing Cheesecakes

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