Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Cheesecake problem/issues...Please help


Recommended Posts

Hey all....

This is the way I make my cheesecakes (maybe a little too in-depth, but I want you to know all what I do, and what is happening, so I can fix it).....

I do either a graham crust (or oreo crust, all depending on the flavour of cheese cake I do). I do 1.5 cups crumbs to 2 oz. melted butter. I cut a piece of parchment for the glass bottom of the springform pan (I prefer the glass bottoms to the metal bottoms, always have). and then I press the crumb mixture to the parchment and then bake it 350F for 5-7 minutes. I let it cool, and in this time I make my cheesecake batter. It is a pretty versatile recipe that I can make into almost any flavour cheesecake. I pour my batter into the springforms (I don't parchment the sides), I fill them up about 3/4 full. Then I put 2 cakes onto a sheet pan and I pour water into the bottom of the pan so it goes up the sides of the pan about 1/4", and put it into a cook & hold oven at 250F for about 2 hours, then I turn it off for about an hour-2 hours then I pull them and let them cool on the stand-up rack in the kitchen for another hour or so, then I put them into the cooler to cool overnight (I like to make them the day before I need them for service).......NOW, the trouble I've been having is that when I take them out of the pan and off the bottom and peel the parchment off, the crust is soggy, and the very centre of the cheesecake (just above the crust in the middle) looks like it isn't cooked. That is the way I've been doing them all summer (I only have to do them every 8 days though), but yesterday when I did them, I did 2 like I stated, and the other 2, I put them onto a rack and then put the rack on top of the sheet pan and put about 1/4" of water into the pan. Before I turn the oven off, I give them a little push, and they do a little wiggle in the middle

All the cakes I've made this year, haven't cracked on me *knock on wood* (I hate when they crack), so should I NOT put water into the pans anymore? (I have this feeling you guys are gonna say not to put water in the bottom......)

How can I make these without a soggy crust and it doesn't crack on me? I have access to a cook & hold (goes to 250F) and 2 convection ovens and 2 deck ovens. If you want a picture to see what they look like, I can take a picture and attach it

Thanks a bunch!

Edited by TDoodle (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Springform pans will leak eventually. In culinary school, I was taught not to use them. We made cheesecake in regular cake pans.

One way to have a super-crisp crust is to bake the cake and crust separately and only unite them when served. Usually with some sort of pate sucre, or other dough type crust that can reliably be moved around as a disc.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd omit the water in the pan and bake for slightly less time in a hotter oven - say, 45 minutes to an hour at 325 rather than 2 hours at 250. That way you should hit a happy medium between fully cooked, non-cracked cakes and crisp crusts.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

The springform pan should be put on a big sheet of aluminum foil & the foil wrapped up around the pan. The the springform pan put into a roasting pan, & water poured to at least half way up the side (closer to 3/4 of the way is best.) Then bake at 325 for roughly an hour.

Test for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer half way between the center & the circumference - 180 - 190 F is about right.

Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, I think water has a place with custards, but, imo, it serves no purpose with cheesecake. Perhaps cream cheese of yore was a bit less stable than it is now and required a water bath, but, with the stabilizers in cream cheese, the sugar, and the lower ratio of eggs (as compared to a custard), a water bath not only fails to provide a benefit, it could be detrimental to the end product as well.

Nix the bath and bake at a relatively low temp until the center is almost set.

I prefer the glass bottoms to the metal bottoms, always have

There's a big part of your problem. Glass is an insulator and stops heat from reaching the bottom of the crust. The insulating effects of glass can be mitigated in baking pans if there's a direct line of sight between the bottom of the pan and the bottom burner, allowing infrared radiation to pass through, but, by blocking the bottom with parchment and/or using a water batch, no IR can get through. In your equation, the glass is highly detrimental to the crust, which needs heat to stay crisp.

Lose the glass, and, as Lisa suggested, lose the springform pan and go with a regular cake pan.

I press the crumb mixture to the parchment and then bake it 350F for 5-7 minutes

Melted butter contains water. 350 for 5-7 minutes most likely will toast up the exterior of the crust a bit, but it won't drive off all the water. While I think switching up the pan will go a long way in preventing a soggy crust, if you want to further ensure crispiness, parbake longer, at a lower temp- perhaps 300 for, say, 15 minutes (I'd watch it to see if it starts taking on color).

the very centre of the cheesecake (just above the crust in the middle) looks like it isn't cooked.

This can get a bit subjective, but the center of a cheesecake should be only barely cooked (just a bit above pasteurization for the eggs) to achieve a creamy/almost gooey texture for the first bite. If your batter is actually still raw, then the pan will resolve this.

All the cakes I've made this year, haven't cracked on me *knock on wood* (I hate when they crack), so should I NOT put water into the pans anymore?

Water slows down the heat transfer, which, in turn, slows down the rate in which egg proteins set in a custard so they don't overcook and force out the liquid and make a scrambled mess. Cracking is very different from scrambling. Cracking is caused by the top of the cheesecake drying out more than the middle and contracting. If anything, the water will slow down the bottom of the cheesecake from baking and exacerbate cracking issues.

As Celeste pointed out, cracking is strictly cosmetic, and, with a topping, can be completely hidden, but if you're dead set on an untopped cake, then avoiding cracking should involve, beyond using the right pan, dialing in the oven temp so the cake bakes slowly enough to give you the right barely cooked, creamy texture in the middle- and a somewhat homogenous creaminess throughout the rest (created by a slow even bake), but not so slow that the top dries out and splits.

I believe cake height is also a factor in cracking- tall cheesecakes tend to crack easier. Lastly, since drying is what makes cheesecake crack, you can apply a very literal solution- spray the top of the cake with water prior to baking, and, if needed, mid and post bake. This won't completely prevent cracking, but I've found it to be helpful.

This is going to take some trial and error to find the right temp (I would start with 275), and, the first time you change up the pan, you might end up with too much color on the crust, but, once you dial everything in, you should see a night and day difference in the finished product.

Edited by scott123 (log)
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Alton Brown would disagree in regards to the water bath:


"Let's say for a minute that this sponge represents all the ingredients in our cheesecake except egg proteins which we'll say are represented by this net. Why a net? Because egg proteins when they cook or denature form a molecular mesh and that mesh is what makes a solid cheesecake possible. The problem is if they get too hot or if they heat too quickly, these proteins over-coagulate. That is they tighten up and they can literally wring all the moisture out of the cheesecake. And that's definitely not good eats.

So the key here is that we've got to: one, insulate the cheesecake from high heat and, two, we've got to control the rate at which that heat moves into the cheesecake. And that is where the water comes in."

Though, a very low temp does tend to take care of those things (Hermes and Ducasse both use 195F, I believe) but Bertha over at Gourmet Baking religiously uses a water bath and she makes some of the best looking cheesecakes I have seen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Alton Brown would disagree in regards to the water bath:

"Let's say for a minute that this sponge represents all the ingredients in our cheesecake except egg proteins which we'll say are represented by this net. Why a net? Because egg proteins when they cook or denature form a molecular mesh and that mesh is what makes a solid cheesecake possible. The problem is if they get too hot or if they heat too quickly, these proteins over-coagulate. That is they tighten up and they can literally wring all the moisture out of the cheesecake. And that's definitely not good eats.

So the key here is that we've got to: one, insulate the cheesecake from high heat and, two, we've got to control the rate at which that heat moves into the cheesecake. And that is where the water comes in."

If you take this statement and swap the word 'cheesecake' with 'custard,' then it works. It's easy to see the eggs in a cheesecake recipe and fall into the trap of treating it like a custard, but the science is entirely different because of the quantity of eggs involved and the stabilizing aspect of the cream cheese. In custard, there's very little in the way of the egg proteins attempting to form a network, so you need to take steps to prevent the eggs from heating too quickly and squeezing the liquid out. In cheesecake, the ratio of coagulation-blocking solids to eggs skyrockets. You've got all that cream cheese getting in the way of those sparse egg protein molecules attempting to link, making a liquid wringing network impossible.

It's not difficult at all to cause a custard to scramble- to cause the liquids to wring out like squeezing a sponge. It's impossible to do this to cheesecake. If you give it too much heat, you end up with a drier, less gooey texture, but you don't get scrambling/liquid being forced out, because the egg protein molecules are too sparse and there's too much stuff in the way.

Alton should know better than to see eggs in a dessert and have this knee jerk reaction. Custard and cheesecake, from a baking perspective, are apples and oranges, regardless of the presence of eggs in both of them. The quantity of eggs and the network blocking effect of the cream cheese change the playing field completely.

Look at this way, if eggs form molecular meshes that squeeze out liquid and always require slow heating to prevent over coagulation, then explain the fast manner in which regular cake is baked. What prevents the eggs in regular cake batter from over-coagulating?

"Hey, Alton, I was trying to make waffles today, but the water bath was giving me one hell of time!" :smile:

Edited by scott123 (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

A cheesecake and a cake aren't really comparable. The former is eggs, sugar, and cream cheese while the latter contains flour and a plethora of other things and that changes everything considering their structure and creates their own specific problems. This further lends issues to your facetiousness ("waffles") considering that waffles contain flour. Why else do some people add flour or cornstarch to something like a ricotta cheesecake? Flour helps absorb moisture and, specifically for ricotta, it prevents curdling. Flour is special in of itself.

Further, did you not say that drying is an issue? Alton simply is stating that the over-coagulation causes the cheesecake to dry ("wring moisture"). I'm not sure why scrambling must exist for you. Over-coagulation is merely the eggs becoming too firm. I feel that this satisfies the "drying" issue.

Harold McGee classifies a cheesecake as a "rich custard" in Keys to Good Cooking and also recommends a water bath as well (for more "even heating"). Does a water bath not serve to cause more "even heating" in other custards?

Edited by Rozin Abbas (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

... and put it into a cook & hold oven at 250F for about 2 hours, then I turn it off for about an hour-2 hours then I pull them and let them cool on the stand-up rack in the kitchen for another hour or so, then I put them into the cooler to cool overnight (I like to make them the day before I need them for service)......

Hi, TDoodle

Lots of different ways to bake your cheesecakes. For shorter cakes I use a real high temp and get it done--for extra deep cheesecakes I bake cooler and longer. I just use a quick read thermometer to determine doneness. I'm with Celeste and Scott--preparing an uncracked perfect topped cheesecake has never been a goal of mine--we're just going to cut into them anyway.

My particular observation is that it seems you might be close to holding them too long at the wrong temp--they only get four accumulated hours out of safe temperature including purchase and delivery time frames, if you soften the cheese initially at room temp before mixing subtract that from the four hours--subtract mixing time and the fluctuating diminishing oven temps you are describing would exacerbate the hazard and subtract the time to serve & sit out. If this was a post from a home cook I probably would not respond. It sounds like you are serving to the public--just a friendly heads up.

To me home cooks have the luxury of all that leaving it in the oven--but i just wanted to gently mention that to you.

i do wedding cakes so i have to really watch that--they need time sit out and be pretty--so my regimen includes sieving the batter instead of letting it set out at room temp very much --cooling by a very clean fan hitting from the bottom of the pan-- quick assemby/decorating and last minute delivery time.

I also err on the side of well done for clients. I know you agree that safety trumps all. I was just giving a friendly heads up.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Cracks in cheesecakes are very easy to repair. After it has sat over night in the fridge you can run an offset spatula under hot water and push in on both sides of the crack until it meets in the middle, then smooth the whole thing over. I don't use a water bath. Don't pile a bunch of toppings on top of a crack because you will be adding weight to an already weak spot and it will only continue to crack more. Trust me on this one. If mine ever crack it's because they've been in the oven too long. I also put a piece of parchment on the bottom then fit the top piece over it as to make for easy removal of the cake and on to a serving platter, or in my case one of the cardboard rounds.

I have pictures if it will help, but I can't seem to get them to upload.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yay! Thanks Heidi! Here are a few pics of what I was talking about in my last post. The thing to remember when you do the repair is not to just cover the top of it up, you have to work it back and forth with the spatula by pushing in on both sides from the bottom up. Yea, you'll make some more marks by doing that, but then just smooth the whole top over. You may have to dip the spatula in hot water a few times but it really works.

IMG_8321.jpg

IMG_8344.jpg

IMG_8345.jpg

IMG_8350.jpg

Edited by cherylf2112 (log)
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

This thread is great, however, I have some questions. I am trying to teach myself how to bake and my last cheesecake came out ok yes it was just ok. The crust was a problem witch lead me to look for answers and to find this website. So the questions are;

1) Do I need to pre-bake the crust every time I make a cheesecake? If, so how long and at what temp?

2)The last cheesecake the crust was oily I would think I used to much butter in regards to the amount of crumbs I used. This is the second question is there a ratio for the crust? So much butter to so much crumb?

3) If you bake a cheesecake in a cake pan, what size pan do you use dose it effect cook time or anything?

4) What is the deal with the water bath? I understand it helps control the cooking but in some recipes it is used and sometimes not, why is this?

Thank you,
Greg

Edited by Gxaiver (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

You could try making a New York style cheesecake. It has a pate sucree or sugar cookie-like dough crust. You partially bake the bottom crust, then take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle the tin and then press the rest of the dough around and up the sides of the pan. Then fill with the cheesecake mixture and bake. I don't make this with a water bath and it always comes out great. No cracks and is very easy to slice, as well. The trick (for me at least) is to leave it in the oven after the baking time is up, with the heat off, for an hour. Then take it out of the oven and cool completely on a rack. Then refrigerate, loosely covered.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You could try making a New York style cheesecake. It has a pate sucree or sugar cookie-like dough crust. You partially bake the bottom crust, then take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle the tin and then press the rest of the dough around and up the sides of the pan. Then fill with the cheesecake mixture and bake. I don't make this with a water bath and it always comes out great. No cracks and is very easy to slice, as well. The trick (for me at least) is to leave it in the oven after the baking time is up, with the heat off, for an hour. Then take it out of the oven and cool completely on a rack. Then refrigerate, loosely covered.

No water bath, ever, regardless of crust type

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...