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Creating a Perfect Cheesecake


M3brewboy
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I read about adding flour or cornstarch in the cheesecake batter with help prevent those cracks that mar their surface once they're baked. But I wasn't sure when to add them to my recipe... so after I beat my cream cheese, I sifted the two tablespoons of AP flour into the mixture and it looked fine. But when I added my room temperature liquid ingredients, suddenly, there were these uneven lumps everywhere...  :unsure:

Why and how can I prevent this? When should I mix in the flour?

Does anyone have a tested recipe of a basic NY-style cheesecake with starch in it?

No NY-style cheesecake but the German version with flour and stark in the filling. My wife's friends came over for a Kaffeeklatch and it happened to me to win the baking part.

Just a glance of preparing the cheesecake

Layered Crust in a baking pan and prepared parchment for prebaking

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Thrown in parchment and dried peas to start prebaking the crust

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Prebaked crust ready for filling

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Cheesecake filling added

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After 20 minutes of baking and 5 minutes at ambient

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Finished after an additional baking time of 20 minutes

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Lukewarm cheesecake ready for serving. One serving portion removed

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Cakes offered in the party. (Applecake and German cheesecake)

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Edited by legourmet (log)

H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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I like my cheesecake rare :) My favorite bite of homemade cheesecake is the first. It's all downhill from there as I approach the crust. Most commercial cheesecakes, even a lot of the local mom and pop bakeries seem to produce a cake that's:

1. Drier/cakey rather than smooth/slightly gooey

2. Cooked to a relatively homogenous level of doneness throughout- the first bite is not all the different from the last.

Is this what most people prefer?

And, just so we're on the same page, I'm referring to a NY dense cheesecake style.

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I don't care for a dry cheesecake at all and the ones at home which I make are dense and creamy .. very vanilla-y in flavor ... crust is buttery (crumbs of Pepperidge Farm's Butter Chessmen Cookies), no topping for the purist in me, and I love the first to the very last bite. :wink: The center is usually a bit less firm, less baked, and almost a thick sauce ... this what you were referring to?

Do you care for those "unbaked" cheesecakes which rely upon gelatin? :huh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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As much as I like underbaked cheesecakes, I don't resonate with the unbaked cheesecake concept whatsoever. Definitely not my bag :smile:

As far as the center goes, yes, a very thick sauce, that's exactly what I like. Don't get me wrong, I don't eat the first bite and throw the rest away. The first bite is ecstatic and the rest is just great.

Part of the reason why I bring this topic up is that I'm considering offering cheesecake to my clients. I'm pretty sure I can create an entire cheesecake that has the consistency of the slightly underbaked center you're referring to. Would something like that be marketable or are most people conditioned to cheesecakes that are cooked slightly more?

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The only cheesecake I know of that has a similar textural mouthfeel to what you are talking about (but not exactly) through and through the entire cake from first bite to last is a soufleed cheesecake - but it must be served warm, almost directly from the oven.

As far as what is marketable, well. . .each client base is different, aren't they. The best way to find out is to ask them directly, if there is any way to do so. . .

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I'm pretty sure I can create an entire cheesecake that has the consistency of the slightly underbaked center you're referring to. Would something like that be marketable or are most people conditioned to cheesecakes that are cooked slightly more?

My own guess is that they would think the undercooked cheesecake was "raw" and that the eggs which go into cheesecake prep weren't "safely cooked" ... don't know if I am saying this correctly but I tend to believe that you will "understand" what I am getting at here.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Sounds like you are looking for a custard consistancy. Perhaps a crem made with slighty soured cream? Would be interesting to experiment.

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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As far as what is marketable, well. . .each client base is different, aren't they. The best way to find out is to ask them directly, if there is any way to do so. . .

I think, that with the busy lives my clients lead, if I were to call them and ask them about the texture of cheesecake they'd laugh in my face. They pay me to make these kinds of decisions for them.

Even if they did have the time/interest, I'm not even sure my clients could detect a difference between a slightly underdone and a regular cheesecake. In many ways I'm splitting hairs here. The difference between the level of doneness in the center of a cheesecake and on the edge is pretty small. Still, though, my preference for slightly underdone cheesecakes drives me.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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I'm pretty sure I can create an entire cheesecake that has the consistency of the slightly underbaked center you're referring to. Would something like that be marketable or are most people conditioned to cheesecakes that are cooked slightly more?

My own guess is that they would think the undercooked cheesecake was "raw" and that the eggs which go into cheesecake prep weren't "safely cooked" ... don't know if I am saying this correctly but I tend to believe that you will "understand" what I am getting at here.

I agree, the cheesecake could be perceived as unsafe from a salmonella perspective. That might be hard to combat. In reality, my cheesecakes hit 170 easily, well beyond any risk from contamination.

Because of my love for undercooked cheesecake, early on in my experimentation I tried baking one to the lowest temperature possible while still maintaining a safe buffer for egg contamination- 145. Too raw for me.

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Do you have a copy of the Cake Bible? The cheesecake recipe in there is very close to what you're describing. I don't use it commercially because it is so soft, but when I want something for at home, that's what I'll make! You can bake it with a crumb crust on the bottom or apply a crust after you unmold it. I love it with lemon or passion curd poured over it as a topping.

There's also another cheesecake recipe in Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts - it's baked for 8 hours at 200 or 250. I found the texture to be nice and soft but the brandy flavor was too much for me.

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I eat my cheesecake from the crust edge inwards … leaving the best for last, the creamy underdone centre mouthful. I have considered making a cheesecake then using a large cutter to just get the centre bit out and throw away the rest … so I definitely know where you are coming from!

The only issue I can see is that the centre bit being gooey is hard to cut, messy to serve and doesn’t please the eye as well as perfect slice of cheesecake … but then, I’m more about how food tastes than it looks!! Whenever my family purchases baked cheesecakes, we always ask for the palest one in a hope that it is undercooked … or else it is easier to make my own and pull it out of the oven before the recipe says to.

As for universal appeal … I doubt many people would really appreciate the difference in taste … look at how many people like mass produced cheesecake in the first place … ick!!

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I agree, the cheesecake could be perceived as unsafe from a salmonella perspective. That might be hard to combat.  In reality, my cheesecakes hit 170 easily, well beyond any risk from contamination.

Are your clients actually this food savvy? Mine aren't. The very first cheesecake I made was the RLB's cordon rose with the apricot chunks inside. I thought it was perfect. Some friends thought it was perfect....others thought it was too soft, but nobody suggested it was undercooked. Now when I make this style I do warn that they're meltable at room temp and some people specifically request that.

Try marketing them as New York (if you do pastry crusts), Firm (the standard), and Soft (for people like us) so clients can choose. I bet you'll get more orders for your preference than you think. :smile:

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Oh, yum.

Flour in a cheesecake?

Personally, if you are worried about cracks, put a nice sour cream layer on there and fill 'em in!

:biggrin:

I'm not worried about cracks. The flour and the cornstark in the Quark-egg filling makes it softer and avoid seperating some liquid during the baking process.

H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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The only cheesecake I know of that has a similar textural mouthfeel to what you are talking about (but not exactly) through and through the entire cake from first bite to last is a soufleed cheesecake - but it must be served warm, almost directly from the oven.

As far as what is marketable, well. . .each client base is different, aren't they. The best way to find out is to ask them directly, if there is any way to do so. . .

The real German cheesecake is of that type. I posted some pictures there

H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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The real German cheesecake is of that type. I posted some pictures there

I really wish you hadn't done that.

Isn't there some sort of international law which forbids redirecting unsuspecting folks onto pages with photos of cheesecake that give off this terribly awesome aura of desirability first thing in the morning? :biggrin:

Yes, my recipe has flour in it, and it is soft and creamy through and through, like the one you showed. The baking time for mine is longer, though - and the top of the cake literally rises above the top of the cakepan and sort of sits there shimmering in a tantalizing sort of way. There is no sense of "undercookedness" yet there is that softness.

Downside - again - as with so many fine things in life it must be paid attention to immediately. You wait on it, it does not wait on you. Sigh. Yet this finesse is worth it.

It is good, very good - later or even refrigerated and later. But never does the moment return with exactitude of that first bite at the right time. :wink:

And of course, in a business sense, this translates to not being suitable for a high level of production and/or distribution. :sad:

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I may be way off in left field, but could it have to do with the flour being beaten up with the cream cheese? Maybe you are toughening up the gluten in the flour somehow with the beating? Most of the recipes I have with flour say to add it near the end. That is, after you've added the eggs.

I generally find my cheesecakes are smoother when I thoroughly beat the cream cheese, flavorings and sugar then gently stir in the eggs and starch (flour).

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I prefer to make my cheesecakes without flour or cornstarch. But, when I have used four or starch I whisk them thoroughly with the sugar. I beat the cream cheese by itself until smooth and creamy. Then I scrape the bowl and beat some more. Then I add the smooth, lump free sugar/flour mixture and mix till smooth, scrape bowl and mix more. Then add eggs on low speed one at a time till smooth. Then add cream or sourcream and flavorings and mix till smooth. Then scrape bowl one last time and mix a few more seconds. After removing bowl from the mixer I do one last scrape around bowl, bottom especially and make sure there no unbeaten batter and if there is I smoosh it against sides of bowl with spatula and stir to make sure it's smooth and lump free. Although I hate the hassle of wrapping my cheesecake pan to bake in a water bath, I do prefer the creamier texture of the finished product when baked in a waterbath. The cheesecake can be baked without a waterbath at a low (Like 250 degree) temp for about 1 1/2 hours (9" cheesecake, 2 lbs cream cheese) and pan of water for moisture in the bottom of the oven, but when finished the cheesecake is firmer, denser and chewier.

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Hmm... so a waterbath is indeed a necessity? But how does one get that light brown color on top of the cheesecake without overbaking it? I tried once to go as high as 500 degrees for about 10 minutes and then lowered it to 250 for an hour...

Have to say it didn't work the way I wanted it to.

I am in the process of fulfilling a dream, one that involves a huge stainless kitchen, heavenly desserts and lots of happy sweet-toothed people.
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There are so many types of cheesecake out there, but since I'm from NY, I'll tell you there is no place for starch in cheesecake (arrogant, I know). What causes cracks is overbaking. You will obtain a nice pale golden cake if you use a recipe containing room temp cream cheese, sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and eggs. Bake in a water bath 1" high, at 300F. It may take 2 hrs., but don't rush it. They're done when they puff up and don't look sunken in the middle.

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It's called the Law of diminishing marginal utility in economics.

After the first bite, every successive bite gives you less satisfaction.

As for me, I'll take cheesecake anyway I can get it. I do tend to go for creamier, richer cheesecakes, so slightly-undercooked works for me.

Edited by miladyinsanity (log)

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Two things make cheesecake crack..overbaking it & not loosening the cake from the sides of the pan when you take it out of the oven.

I myself prefer not to use flour or starch in cheesecake..it makes it taste gummy. Simplicity is best. I also prefer sour cream to using cream.

A water bath is not always necessary.. Most NY style cheescakes do not use them. I prefer this method because you get that nice brown crust, it's firm on the outside yet smooth & creamy in the middle. You bake it at a high temp for 10 minutes & then a lower temp for 1 hr-90 minutes.

I also use cake pans instead of springform pans. I got so tired of losing the springform bottoms or having them get warped.

I'm making one today..maybe I'll document it & post pics later.

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I myself throw each ingredient (flour and stark inclusive) into the mixer and mix until smooth. Then fold in the beaten eggwhites and at the end I pour the batter into the prebaked crust. No problems at all. The result: soft cheesecake and satisfied clients. go figure.

Edited by legourmet (log)

H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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