How to Make the Perfect Cheesecake
Baked cheesecake recipes shouldn’t be daunting with these easy tips.
Tips for a perfect baked cheesecake
The way a cheesecake is baked is the key to its perfection. Professional pastry chefs bake cheesecakes in a water bath. This method bakes the cake very gently so that it does not darken, curdle or crack. A springform or loose-bottomed cake tin is the best choice for baking cheesecakes because you can remove the cheesecake from the tin easily, but muffin tins or any other cake tin will work fine. If you use a regular cake tin, grease it well and line the bottom with baking parchment.
How you bake is key
Preheat your oven to the temperature recommended in your cheesecake recipe. To prevent water from seeping into the removable bottom of the springform tin, wrap tin foil completely around the bottom and halfway up the sides of the tin. Place the cheesecake into a swiss roll tin (or any baking tin with sides) and place the tins into the oven. Use a kettle to fill the outer tin with hot water. Cheesecakes usually bake for about 1½ hours, so check the bath after the first hour and refill if necessary.
Is it done yet?
Because cheesecakes are very soft, it can be difficult to judge when it is done cooking. One way to check for doneness is to take the cake’s internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. The ideal temperature for a cheesecake is around 70 to 72°C. You can also insert a small knife into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Some bakers turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in it for an additional hour to ensure that it sets completely.
Chill for best results
Once the cheesecake has been removed from the oven, it needs to chill thoroughly – preferably overnight. The cake will have pulled away from the edges of the tin. Carefully run a small knife around the edge of the tin to loosen any bits that might stick to the tin.
Un-moulding your masterpiece
Unclip the clasp at the side of the tin, watching for any areas that stick. Carefully lift the outer ring over the top of the cake. If you used a regular cake tin and don’t want to serve the cheesecake in the tin, invert a plate covered with a sheet of greaseproof paper over the tin. Tip the cake tin over the plate, and remove the tin. Invert a serving plate over the bottom of the cheesecake, and flip it over. Remove the top plate and paper, trying not to peel off the ‘skin’ on the surface of the cheesecake. Any imperfections can be covered by chocolate ganache, a fruit sauce or a layer of lightly sweetened soured cream.
The final touch
For a seamless look, you can smooth the sides of the cheesecake with a hot, wet knife. Any toppings or garnishes can be added at this point.