You decide to make cheesecake. You've got the 2 pounds of cream cheese, the eggs, the sugar, vanilla, cookies for a crust...
Stop right there! For best results – and surely you don't want any result but the very best – read these cheesecake tips before you even start preheating the oven.
Trust me, your inner cheesecake goddess will thank you.
Cheesecake tip #1: Choose your favorite crust.
Graham cracker crusts, while typical, aren’t the only way to go. Try using other cookies – vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, even chocolate sandwich cookies – in place of the graham crackers called for in your recipe. Or go with a cake crust, as they do in Brooklyn.
Cheesecake tip #2: To prevent lumps, have everything at room temperature.
A lumpy batter going into the oven won't magically transform itself into lump-free cheesecake as it bakes. Having all of your ingredients at room temperature makes it much easier to combine everything thoroughly into smooooooth, lump-free batter.
Cheesecake tip #3: For best texture, mix the batter at low speed.
For quintessential cheesecake texture – dense without being heavy – beat filling ingredients at low or medium-low speed. Beating at high speed adds air to the batter; longer, slower beating yields a pleasantly dense cake.
Cheesecake tip #4: How to prevent the deadly cracked top.
Cheesecakes sometimes develop a cracked top. Here are some tips for “crackless” cheesecake:
- Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature. Use an independent oven thermometer to confirm. Cheesecake baked at too high a temperature (and/or for too long) will crack.
- Wrap your pan in cake strips, to even out baking from edge to center. Alternatively, bake it in a water bath.
- Use lighter rather than darker pans. Dark pans absorb heat more quickly, leading to uneven baking.
- Make sure your cake cools slowly. Cold can “shock” cheesecake into cracking. When your cake tests done, turn the oven off, prop the door open a couple of inches, and leave the cake inside to cool completely in the cooling oven.
- If your cake cracks while baking, spread the top with sour cream 10 minutes before turning the oven off; and/or top with fruit before serving.
Cheesecake tip #5: To test for doneness, take the cake's temperature.
To ensure your cake is baked all the way through but not over-baked, take its temperature. The perfectly baked cake will register 170°F about 1" from the edge of the pan. Its center will still appear soft; that's OK. Turn off the oven, it's done.
Cheesecake tip #6: For best shape, loosen the cake's edges.
To help prevent a slumped center, run a thin spatula or table knife all around the edge of the cake as soon as you remove it from the oven, and prior to returning it to the oven to cool.
Cheesecake tip #7: The final step –
Well, that's easy: enjoy!