If you’re searching for a crowd-pleasing dessert, cheesecake is the way to go. A staple on the menus of your favorite fancy restaurants and neighborhood diners alike, cheesecake’s creamy and tangy flavor has charmed dessert-lovers across the globe. Despite the fact that most cheesecake recipes have short ingredient lists, there are a few dos and don’ts that will make or break your cheesecake. Let’s go through some common mistakes you should avoid to ensure your cheesecake sets properly, has the right texture, and doesn’t sink or crack.
1. Get Your Crust Right
- One of the most frequent cheesecake crust blunders is not smashing the graham crackers sufficiently. To get the finest texture possible, use a food processor. You don’t want large graham cracker bits that make the crust to crumble.
- It’s also really important to make sure your crust comes up the side of the pan, covering the seam of the springform pan. This avoids leaks and gives each slice a lovely crust.
- Another common mistake is not pre-baking the crust. Before you add your batter, it’s important that your crust has a short 8-10 minute visit in the oven at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). This bakes the crust and closes it, preparing it for the wet batter. When adding the batter, make sure it’s totally cool.
2. Don’t Go Low-fat
- Although it may be tempting to reduce the fat level of cheesecake by using low-fat cream cheese or sour cream, full fat is the way to go. The fat content aids in the setting of the cheesecake and gives its trademark creamy texture. If you’ve ever produced watery cheesecake, low-fat ingredients are almost certainly to fault.
- Sour cream with full fat provides moisture and a tangy taste to the cake. However, you can swap out the sour cream for heavy cream or even full fat Greek yogurt. Just make sure you’re following a recipe that calls for those substitutions to get all your measurements right. Don’t simply go with the flow and hope for the best.
3. Don’t Use Cold Ingredients
- Cold ingredients are a big no-no when it comes to cheesecake. If your ingredients are cold you will have to mix them longer which will whip too much air into your batter. If the cake contains too much air, it will rise too much in the oven and then sink as it cools. Nobody wants a sunken, melancholy cheesecake.
- Let your ingredients to come to room temperature before adding them in the recipe sequence. If you add the ingredients all at once or out of sequence, your cheesecake may not bake properly. It’s imperative that the cream cheese whips up a little on its own, then the other ingredients can be added in order to get a cheesecake that sets firmly and has a lovely texture.
4. Do I Really Have to Do a Water Bath?
- Can a cheesecake be baked without a water bath (also known as a bain marie)? Absolutely, but there is a considerably greater chance of burning and uneven cooking. A water bath uses steam to slowly and evenly cook the cake, which prevents cracking and burning. Be sure to wrap your springform pan in aluminum foil as a barrier between your cake and the water bath.
- Nothing is more annoying than carefully following every step and then being unable to remove your cake without it entirely coming apart. So it’s worth having a springform pan around, especially once you start making tasty cheesecakes and want to keep making more!
5. Don’t Overbake
- Overbaking cheesecake will result in unsightly cracks and a dry, crumbly texture. Cheesecake is a custard, thus it will not be totally solid when finished. Giving it a little wiggle is the simplest technique to ensure you don’t overbake it. Use a wooden spoon and gently tap the cake pan on the side. If the cake is done, it should wobble slightly in the middle. If the whole cake ripples and jiggles, it needs a bit longer to bake.
- Quick tip: Your cheesecake will do its entire cooling process inside the springform pan. Don’t try to take it out of the pan until it’s been chilled overnight.
6. Don’t Rush the Cooling Process
- While chilling your cheesecake, a typical error is to try to cool it too rapidly. If you have a conventional oven you can turn the heat off, open the door, and allow it to cool for an hour inside the oven before moving it to a cooling rack to cool completely. A gas oven, on the other hand, may overcook it, so transfer it to a cooling rack right away.
- When your cake pan is no longer hot to the touch, cover it and place it in its springform pan in the refrigerator to cool overnight. Cooling it overnight insures a good set.
- Let it to cool overnight before sliding a knife down the edge between the crust and the pan’s side and gently unbuckling the pan.
- Quick tip: It might seem like a shortcut to pop your cheesecake straight in the freezer from the oven. This will spoil the texture and prevent the cake from fully setting.
7. Don’t Leave It Out
- Don’t leave your cooled cheesecake out longer than two hours or you risk food poisoning. It will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days if kept tightly covered.
- To prepare the cheesecake for the freezer, you’ll want to freeze the cake unwrapped on a plate for about an hour. Then take it out, double wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer for up to 4-6 weeks. When you’re ready to eat it, defrost it overnight in the fridge with the plastic wrap still on.
If you follow these guidelines, your cheesecake will be delicious and gorgeous every time!