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Creating a Perfect Cheesecake


M3brewboy
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I am in total agreement there should be a thread just for drained ricotta.

Mind you.....I think the original cheesecake was made with ricotta.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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On waterbaths in general, on another thread I remember nightscotsman saying that you really only needed a small amount of water for the waterbath, as it acts as a heatsink. This is intriguing to me, as you usually read that you need to get the water at least halfway up the pan. Usually, the rationale is given as being to protect the cake sides from direct heat (which would be slightly different than a heatsink and would imply that you should get the water up as high as possible). Is there any truth to the "halfway up the pan" idea or is it just a myth/rule of thumb? (The point of asking about all this is that it would be alot easier to deal with a smaller amount of water).

Edited by cjsadler (log)

Chris Sadler

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A waterbath does two things. It protects the cake from the dirrect oven heat. It adds moisture to the atmosphere it's baking in. Both can be a good thing, both can have little to no real tangable effects either.

We can all add our opinion of what works best for each of us with our given recipes in our personal ovens.........but the facts are there a couple rules, and as long as those rules aren't broken your cheesecake won't crack. Doing a dance around your cake will be just as effective as baking your cheesecake in a water bath if you don't follow those 'rules'.

A cheesecake is a baked custard and the same principals apply to both. You want to avoid high oven tempatures for prolonged baking. You don't want to over bake them. Both will make the protein in your eggs contract too much. The results can vary from a dense cheesecake to a rubber one or a curdled cheese mixture. If you follow and avoid those main two factors (temp. and not over baking) you can successfully bake a cheesecake in just about any heating source.

The density of your finished product is a reflection of the ingredients you put into it. Regardless of the crust you use or don't use, a basic cheesecake is cream cheese, eggs and sugar (nothing else is needed). To further enhanse your cheesecake there are many other ingredients you can add, each has it's effect. You can also make a cheesecake with just about any type of cheese including savory cheese like blue cheese.

The proportions/balance of your basic cheesecake ingredients matter. Is there alot of eggs, little sugar, too much cream cheese in proportion to the rest of the ingredients? Each step will have a different result/reaction. You can add thickeners like cornstarch or flour. Additional dairy, like sour cream or heavy cream adds flavor and moisture/creaminess in that they bring additional fat to dilute the binding eggs.

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I bake around two dozen cheesecakes every Christmas as gifts and never use a waterbath! :shock: No cracks, great texture.

For those brave souls (or lazy like me!), you might want to experiment with cooking your cheesecake at a very low temperature (275-300F).

With my recipe (32 oz. cream cheese, 4 large eggs, 1-2/3 cups sugar + 2 tsp. extract per ~9" cake), I go with 285F for 1.5 hours, turn off the oven and let them sit in there until they're cool enough that I can pull them out with my barehands. No cracks.

Yes, a waterbath is more fool-proof, but if you know your oven and watch the timing, it is possible to skip the hassle (and fit more pans in your oven).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Many of the preceding posts have excellent advice (read Sinclair's for good prep advice; Jerry_A explained little professional "magic"... not sure if I like that he revealed it :hmmm: but it's a surefire recovery method as long as the cake hasn’t been dramatically overbaked :cool: ; my compliments to y’all).

Here are some of my observations and suggestions.

1.) Some have mentioned that regardless of whatever pan you use, make sure to apply a thin layer of non-stick spray or butter to the sides even if it has a non-stick coating (just to be safe). I will add that you should remember to drop your cooking temp by a degree or two (more maybe?) when using the darker coated pans.

2.) Make sure the temperature of your crust of choice is near room-temperature before you add in the filling. The temperature differences between the crust and filling should be minimal for obvious reasons. Avoid giving yourself the opportunity to scald or chill the filling that contacts the crust before it goes into the oven. Quality suffers.

3.) Eggs and cheese should always be at room temperature before blending the fillings. Folks who make killer omelets or meringue (and the like) already know that this is how you create more volume. It also allows the ingredients to incorporate a lot quicker.

4.) Resist the urge to use a hand/immersion blender. Let me repeat that… Resist the urge to use a hand/immersion blender. These devices will kill the quality with lethal precision. Any other mixer can be used to incorporate all ingredients BUT the eggs. Do these by hand and use restraint! Work one egg at a time, break the yolks (if your recipe uses them), fold the egg in a few times (4 turns or so) and stop. Eggs have a limit to how much they can be worked (the science was mentioned in one or two previous posts).

5.) Expedite the transfer to the baking pan as soon as the eggs are incorporated. If your filling has lumps after all ingredients are combined, so what, now’s not the time to try to get rid of them because you will overwork the filling in short order and kill the quality very quickly. Next time, work on incorporating cheese, sugar, flavorings, etc. as best as you can before adding the eggs.

6.) I prefer the non-bath cooking method. I am sure using a BM has its merits for temperature control, but as others have stated: keep the effort as simple as possible.

7.) Cook at a temperature of around 325 deg or so and try not to open the oven door too often. You’ve cooked it long enough when the edges puff slightly and the center jiggles slightly when you shake the pan (gently of course). If the peaks at the edge of the cake are a pretty dark golden color and strikingly contrast with the uniform color of the top… SORRY!!! You’ve probably cooked it too long. BTW: Don’t raise the temp to speed the cooking time up, it just doesn’t work. Also, be aware that your oven has hotspots and act accordingly.

8.) The knife trick works! Have a sharp one ready to run around the inside of the pan to free the cake shortly after it's pulled from the oven.

9) Cool to room temp before moving the cake to the fridge. You can do this in the oven, or out, it is your preference, both will work. Just be sure to bleed the heat off slowly, prevent a dramatic change in temperature from taking place in a short amount of time (read: never do the oven-to-fridge, or God-forbid, oven-to-freezer maneuvers.).

Thanks for reading my opinion.

- CSR

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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I've only made a couple of cheesecakes, but I just made one recently and it was the only one that hasn't crack. It was also the easiest cheesecake I've ever made.

1) I didn't have a crust. John Thorne's "Simple Cooking" convinced me it's not necessary for taste. However, for nice presentation some kind of crust is necessary.

2) I baked in a springform pan, but not in a water bath. I put a second pan underneath in case my springform leaked, but it didn't at all.

3) I baked it one hour, took it out when it was still jiggly (a little too jiggly for my taste, but I've overcooked cheesecakes before and I did not want to overcook this one).

4) Cooled it on the counter one hour, stuck it in the refrigerator.

No fancy waterbaths or hours of cooling in the oven, so I agree with the others that overbaking is probably the reason for cracks. Leaving the crust off saved me a lot of time too. I need to work on the texture (a little too fluffy, even though I was careful to mix very slowly and minimally), but the taste was fantastic--not overly sweet, wonderfully sour.

morda

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  • 6 months later...

I havesome left over batter from yesterday's batch of cheesecake (plain, just cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, whole eggs, vanilla) stored in a bowl. It wasn't enough for a larger whole cake, but I'm thinking it would be enough to fill a dozen or two mini sweet dough tartlets.

How long can you store cheesecake batter before baking?

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I depend on the ability to hold cheesecake batter! I do it all the time. I make a big batch, then bake off cheesecakes to order. I add flavorings etc to a plain batter to make other cheesecake flavors. Usually my big batch will last two weeks. As it sits it gets a little thicker, but it doesn't affect anything texture or bake-wise. :smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

I was just thinking today as I was making a cheesecake for my family cookout, if it is possible to make a decent cheesecake as a sheet cake (i.e. 1/4 sheet and 1/2 sheet)

I would like to offer this as one of my selections to my customers but I don't know what type of recipe to use. Should I just use my standard and double batch it? What about the cook time?

How do I accomplish getting it out of the pan without breaking it apart?

I would like to apply a whip frosting on the top and sides and then decorate it as I would my standard birthday cakes. I am not concerned about the frosting of it but I need to make sure it doesn't fall apart on me.

I know I have read a previous thread here about freezing cheesecake and the pros and cons as it relates to the consistency of the cake once it thaws which of course is another concern I have.

Thanks in advance for your recommendations.

Believe, Laugh, Love

Lydia (aka celenes)

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You might want to check out Cooking.com. They actually sell a 13x9 inch springform pan. As for recipes, there are a few 13x9 inch recipes over on the Kraft (Philadelphia Cream Cheese) web site. One in particular is their Oreo cheesecake. I think the formula is 5 (8 oz) packs cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, 4 eggs, vanilla, 1 cup sour cream baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. They recommend lining a 13x9 inch pan with foil and simply lifting it out.

Edited by claire797 (log)
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I've baked many regular recipes in a half sheet pan without any problems. How thick you need it (I've done it to yield 1" squares), and the volume of your recipe will determine whether you need to multiply your recipe. As for baking, on larger pans I'll reduce my temp 50 degrees and watch like a hawk. Again, a lot of factors will determine length of cooking.

As for getting it out, I make a parchment sling and just lift the thoroughly cooled cheesecake out of the pan.

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Briefly, I want to mention that we've had many threads in the past discuss this. If you page thru our older threads in this forum you definately will find every answer you can think of regarding baking cheesecakes and doing so in large quantities, plus recipes.

Personally I use any and every cheesecake recipe in any pan or mold I choose. Any cheesecake recipe can be baked in multiple forms.

The most important thing is learning about these cakes/custards. Your method of mixing and baking greatly influence the success of your recipe. There is no single right or wrong way to bake or mix a cheesecake.........and anyone whom tells you there is, is wrong. Unlike other cakes that need the correct pan to rise in, cheesecakes are more like custards and can be handled like them. And if you learn how professionals handle them (freezing to unmold), you'll learn that you can really bake these in any pan type.

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As usual I knew I would get excellent guidance on this topic.

I looked in my Cake Bible book and see a recipe that will serve 100 so I am sure I can make that and divide it out accordingly for my pans.

I just finished up my personal cheesecake for my family which I baked in a 9 x 13 pan and it came out of the pan nicely. I used parchment paper versus foil. I also frosted it with whipped frosting because I unfortunately can't have a plain cake anymore even if it's just for me and the hubby. Plus when the children come over to visit it's a crime for me not to do a little decorating on the dessert.

So I feel confident that I can offer this to my clients now. Below is a picture of standard cheesecake I did for a bridal shower last week. My client said she should have ordered all cheesecake although the other two cakes went quickly too.

gallery_17394_453_394219.jpg

Edited by celenes (log)

Believe, Laugh, Love

Lydia (aka celenes)

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I've made cheesecake in a 9 inch square pan WITHOUT removable sides. I line the pan with overhanging layers of foil in both directions, spray everything really well with non-stick spray, let cool completely in the pan and we're good to go. I generally chill really well or even freeze the cake. Then, with a hot knife, I'll trim the edges and cut to the desired size bars or squares.

Works great and no waste.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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in school, we do our cheesecake slabs on regular sheet trays - just plonk down a square metal ring in the middle with parchment underneath - works perfect everytime. just make sure you freeze it solid for easy removal.

i've even seen a homemade square "ring" made of 4 pieces of wood used as a cheesecake mould - just bake as usual and freeze.

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I do cheesecake on a 1/2 sheet in a rectangle mold all the time. The one thing you may come across is a cracked surface. Basically, with anything that incorporates air while whipiping/beating (creamcheese, eggs, etc), the larger it is the more the surface will crack while baking. A good, light recipe won't develop the structure necesary to support the surface weight, so you will have cracks most of the time. That's why we use acetate rings with large souflees to try and give support to the surface (which in my experience doesn't ever prevent cracking 100%).

Nobody serves cheesecake naked anyhow, so it really doesn't matter . Plus, cheesecakes, souflees and the like are rustic by nature. The best tasting cheesecakes I've ever had look like they've been through a war. Of course if you desire a flawless surface, you can go to Juniors and get a very flat, dense cheesebirck.

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No perfection is not my goal here just a decent cheesecake that as you say I can cover up the cracks.

Unfortunately, I didn't snap a shot of the cheescecake I made for my family which I baked in a 1/4 sheet pan. I covered the top with strawberry glaze and then really nice strawberry halves followed by whipped frosting on the sides and a nice border.

The cheesecake did have a few cracks when it came out of the oven but if you saw it once I put the finishing touches you would never know.

:biggrin:

Believe, Laugh, Love

Lydia (aka celenes)

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I do cheesecake on a 1/2 sheet in a rectangle mold all the time. The one thing you may come across is a cracked surface. Basically, with anything that incorporates air while whipiping/beating (creamcheese, eggs, etc), the larger it is the more the surface will crack while baking. A good, light recipe won't develop the structure necesary to support the surface weight, so you will have cracks most of the time. That's why we use acetate rings with large souflees to try and give support to the surface (which in my experience doesn't ever prevent cracking 100%).

Nobody serves cheesecake naked anyhow, so it really doesn't matter . Plus, cheesecakes, souflees and the like are rustic by nature. The best tasting cheesecakes I've ever had look like they've been through a war. Of course if you desire a flawless surface, you can go to Juniors and get a very flat, dense cheesebirck.

I have to respectfully disagree. A cracked cheesecake is one that is poorly made and or baked. The density of the cheesecake has nothing to do with whether the cake cracking or not. A cheesecake is basicly a baked custard with cheese in it. If it's over baked or baked in too hot of a oven it will crack because the eggs have been over cooked. I don't believe cheesecakes crack because of surface tention or even mixing method (if you incorporated too much air). Personally I find time after time that secret to perfect cheesecakes is correct baking/handling.

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i've never seen cracks on the cheesecake we bake at school in rectangular moulds on sheet pans - perfectly smooth and even on top

we bake it low in a convection oven at about 200F until jiggly

this is the recipe we use - it's pretty good

670g cream cheese

270g sour cream

170g sugar

30g cornstarch

4 large eggs

flavorings

just mix everything together until smooth

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  • 3 months later...

Specificlly a brownie bottomed cheesecake.

How would I go about baking one?

Par bake the brownie batter and then pour the cheesecake bater? Or just pour the brownie batter and then cheesecake and bake together?

Any other tips?

Monica

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I made one and baked off the brownie completely then baked the cheesecake part. I used regular cake pans and I lined them with cardboard so I would encounter zero issues removing them from the pans. I would line that with parchment too.

I was putting a cake layer on top of that so I used a heating core too. Having a pretty top was not a goal. Even if I was not layering with cake I would still use a heating core because I decorate the top & cover up the marks left behind.

But I sure didn't want to fry the brownie y'know? I used a fudge brownie recipe and made it nice & thick. So then on the cheesecake part I used a quick read thermometer to test for doneness--169 degrees is done for cheesecake. I think I heard that from Alton Brown. That way I didn't have to guess & it was easier for me.

It's of course easy to trim the edges too if they do bake off more than you wanted. Overall it was easier than I figured. Oh yeah, I froze it before I removed it from the pan. Refrigeration makes it easier too. I prefer freezing it though--again less chance for error.

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In Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts, she puts chunks of brownies in her vanilla cheesecake - back then, it was during the start of the craze for mixing things into ice cream. But in the recipe intro, she talks about making chocolate cheesecake brownies (and how her husband came up with brownie cheesecake idea).

In this choc cheesecake brownie recipe, which is made a 8x8 square pan, she prepares the brownie mixture, pours it into the pan and then preps the cheesecake mixture and pours it over the unbaked brownie. The whole thing bakes for about 40 mins or so. I've made this successfully in a round, removeable bottom cheesecake pan.

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we make cheesecake brownies at my work. Just swirl the cheesecake butter in the brownie batter and bake in a convection oven just like you would brownies. Come out great.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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