Cheesecake is delicious and sure to please your guests, but it has gained a reputation for being one of the most difficult cakes to make. One of the most common problems is cracks that develop on the surface of the cake as your cheesecake cools. It is actually easy to make, if you follow these simple tips for making the perfect cheesecake:
- Use quality ingredients and a tried-and-true recipe. Although no-bake cheesecakes can certainly be delicious, they just aren't comparable to real cheesecake recipes. Use quality ingredients, especially cream cheese. Many have found that low-fat or reduced fat cream cheese affect the texture of the finished product.
- Use ingredients at room temperature. Begin by setting all your ingredients on the counter, and waiting half an hour until the ingredients, particularly the cream cheese, have come to room temperature. This will allow for easier mixing, so your cheesecake will turn out creamy, not lumpy.
- Crush the cookies for the crust. This can be done while you're waiting for the other ingredients to warm up. Place the cookies or graham crackers in a Ziploc bag, squeeze out excess air, and then crush them in the bag. This will keep them from making a mess.
- Do not over mix. Do not use a mixer, because this will incorporate too much air. If you use an electric mixer, your cheesecake will fall after it is baked, and this can form cracks in the surface. Instead, mix by hand.
- Use a springform pan. Although you can bake a cheesecake in an ordinary round cake pan, it will be much more difficult to remove. Instead, use a springform pan, which has removable sides. That way, you won't ruin the sides of your cheesecake trying to remove it from the pan. Grease or butter the sides of the pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the spring form pan on a baking sheet before placing it in the oven.
- Bake correctly. Placing a shallow pan of water on the lower rack of your oven can keep the cheesecake moist. Bake your cake in a preheated oven, on the center rack of the oven. Do not open the oven door to peek at the cheesecake while it is baking. To check if the cheesecake is done, shake it gently. The very center should wiggle slightly, like Jell-o.
- Allow to cool properly. Cooling incorrectly is the most frequent cause of cracks on the top of your cheesecake. Cool slowly on a wire rack at a constant temperature, away from any drafts. Heating or cooling the cheesecake too fast will form cracks.
Cheesecake is a very popular dessert, and for good reason. Top your homemade cheesecake with chocolate sauce or fresh fruit. Even if it does crack, you can usually disguise it through your use of toppings.