Making the Perfect Cheesecake
Cheesecake is so delicious and simple to make. Here are some easy tips to make your cheesecake turn out picture perfect.
- It is important that the ingredients, such as the cream cheese and eggs, are at room temperature. To bring cream cheese to room temperature, quickly, place completely unwrapped package(s) in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 15 to 20 second intervals, just until slightly softened. Do not let the cream cheese melt or get warm -- if it does, refrigerate for about 5 to 10 minutes to return the consistency to "softened" before using. Using cold ingredients could result in a lumpy batter, for a creamy cheesecake you need a creamy batter.
- During mixing, beat the ingredients on medium-low speed just until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, on the lowest speed and scrape both beater and bowl. Avoid beating air into the mixture. Too much air will make the cheesecake fall. Overbeat can cause cracks to form in the cheesecake as it bakes.
- Cheesecakes need to bake at a lower temperature -- 325°F is best but not higher than 350°F -- since they are egg based. Position the baking rack in center of oven and place the cheesecake in center of middle oven rack. Place a shallow pan full of water on the lower rack in the oven. The water will also help minimize cracking in the top of the cheesecake.
- Lightly grease both the sides and bottom of the springform pan using Pan Release, butter, margarine or shortening. This will help prevent the batter from creeping up the side and then falling. Also, to prevent cracking, you do not want the cheesecake to stick to the sides of the pan while it is cooling.
- Avoid oven temperature fluctuation during baking and cooling. Do not open the oven door during the first 30 minutes of baking. Drafts can cause a cheesecake to fall or crack while baking or cooling.
- Allow the cheesecake "rest" after baking. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, when the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven and set the door slightly ajar.
- Do not jar the cheesecake while it is baking or cooling. It is ok to thump the side of the pan or gently shake to test for doneness. It is important to make sure the center still jiggles slightly when the cheesecake is done baking.
- The cheesecake is done baking when the edges are puffed and when slightly shaken, about an inch in diameter in the center should jiggle.
- When the cheesecake is done baking, let it "rest" for 10 minutes, then slide a small knife between the sides of the pan and the edges of the cake. You want to make sure the cheesecake hasn't stuck to the sides of the pan. This will help prevent cracks while it cools.
- The cheesecake will shrink slightly as it cools. If there is great shrinkage, you have baked it at too high a heat.
- Cheesecake should be cooled slowly away from drafts.
- Cool the cheesecake completely before refrigerating. Chilling a warm cheesecake will trap condensation in the cake and make it soggy.
- Cheesecakes always need to be well chilled before serving, preferably 12 to 24 hours before cutting. This will ensure that the cheesecake solidifies to a perfect consistency while cooling.
- After the cheesecake has been completely chilled, remove sides of the springform pan, transfer onto a cake plate, cut and serve. Use two spatulas can be used to easily transfer the cake to the serving plate.
- Garnishing a cheesecake should only be done within 1 to 3 hours of serving.
- Cheesecakes taste best when brought to room temperature. This takes about 30 minutes.