Cheesecakes are always a popular dessert to serve. They take a bit of effort to make, so when the results are not as expected, it can be quite disappointing. Cracks in the cake, lack of flavor and the absence of a creamy texture are among the most common problems. There are steps though that can be taken to increase the chances of success and help to make a great baked cheesecake.
Using a Cheesecake Recipe
To some extent, personal taste determines which recipe is chosen or how the recipe is altered. Sugar and sour cream are ingredients that can be changed around a bit, whether a sweeter taste or stronger cream cheese flavor is desired. Dry ingredients added for flavor, such as chocolate cookie bits or toasted almonds can also be increased or decreased according to taste.
The amount of cream cheese used is in accordance with the number of people being served, or the size of the slices desired. If using a favorite recipe that needs to be doubled, be careful with ingredients. The cream cheese and eggs will be increased, but the sugar will probably be less than doubled.
Base of a Cheesecake
- Use a springform pan
- Lightly oil, or line with parchment paper to slide or lift the cake for transfer
- Mix graham or cookie crumbs and melted butter together
- Add spices or nuts to add flavor and complement the filling or the topping
- Use a small cup base to press crumbs down evenly on bottom of pan
- Put in fridge for 15 – 30 minutes
Making a Cheesecake
- Cream cheese and eggs should be at room temperature before beginning the mixing
- Eggs should be added one at a time for a lighter texture
- Beat only the cream cheese and eggs and blend in the rest of the ingredients
- Use vanilla extract, not artificial vanilla
- Add a bit of freshly grated lemon zest
Baking a Cheesecake
The oven temperature should be around 325 degrees Fahrenheit. To help reduce cracks the cheesecake can be baked in a water bath:
- Wrap the pan with tin foil tightly to prevent water seeping into the base
- Put the pan in a roaster and fill with boiling water about half way up the pan
It is important to avoid over baking the cheesecake. The cheesecake should take about an hour but:
- It could be approximately up to 15 minutes or more either way
- The cake should be firm on the edges but jiggle in the middle- it will become firm as it cools
- Take out of the water bath and unwrap the foil immediately
- When cake is cooled, wrap lightly and place in fridge
Serving and Presenting the Cheesecake
For great full flavor cheesecake results:
- Chill the cheesecake for at least a 4 hour minimum before serving, but 24 hours in the fridge will benefit the flavor
- Take the cheesecake out of the fridge approximately 20 – 30 minutes prior to serving, depending on the room temperature
To decorate the cheesecake for visual presentation or to hide any cracks, consider topping with:
- Whipping cream – but do not top it too far in advance
- A cream cheese frosting
- Icing sugar and cocoa
- Melted or grated chocolate
- Cookie crumbs or small cookies
- Warmed fruit, fruit slices, berries
Following these tips on how to make a great baked cheesecake, by using a good recipe, creating a solid base, making a creamy flavorful filling, baking it just the right amount and finding ways to hide any cracks and add to the visual presentation will help the cheesecake be a tasty success.
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