Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to Make a Perfect Cheesecake

At my last job I was commissioned to bake a cheesecake for a staff member's birthday. I was sure I had baked a cheesecake before but sure couldn't remember any tricks. So I found this list of tips that was really helpful, and of course now I couldn't tell you where I found it.

How to Make a Perfect Cheesecake

Using springform pans: Take the pan apart, line the bottom plate with aluminum foil, then reassemble the pan. Pull the excess foil up and around the pan to prevent any batter from leaking into the oven. Spray sides and bottom with vegetable spray.

Ingredients: For best results, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.

Mixing the batter: A stand mixer can take on heavy cheesecake batter with ease, but be careful not to over mix. Too much air in the batter causes bubbles that can cause cracking. Mix just until creamy and all lumps are gone.

How to tell when a cheesecake is done: Put a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven. Not all cheesecakes get baked at the same temperature. What does matter is that fluctuations in temperature can result in cracks. Resist the urge to open and close the oven door while baking. It's hard to tell when a cheesecake is done and it shouldn't be over baked, either, which again causes cracks. The cheesecake is generally done when the sides are set and a little puffy and the very center is slightly wiggly.

How to cool cheesecakes: Cool slowly on a wire rack away from drafts and at an even temperature for 2-3 hours. You may lay a piece of paper towel over the cheesecake (not directly on it) to keep in some of the moisture. Run a sharp knife around the sides. Leave cheesecake in the pan and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Run a sharp knife around the pan once more before releasing sides. Peel the foil off the underside of the pan, gently lift the cake with one hand and peel off the foil, sliding the cheesecake onto a serving platter or cardboard circle.

How to slice a cheesecake: Using a large, very sharp chef's knife, slice the cheesecake by cutting right through it all the way to the plate. Do not saw through the cheesecake. Rinse the knife off in hot water, dry and cut another slice.

How to fix a cracked cheesecake: When all else fails, and a California earthquake-size fissure cracks down the center, there is still hope. Fresh fruit and pie fillings, frosting, glaze, cookie crumbs and ganache can always cover a multitude of sins and guests will never know!

How to freeze cheesecakes: Cheesecakes freeze great, so why not make two! Double wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for 2-3 months.

Hope these tips are helpful - happy cheesecake baking!

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