How to bake a gorgeous cheesecake? 4 simple ways
Cheesecake should never be a source for anything except pure bliss. Not distress. Not frustration. Certainly never tears. Just dreamy, decadent, nonstop bliss.
Ideas for Topping Your Cheesecake
- Spread the top with a thin layer of sour cream or whipped cream
- Pour soft chocolate ganache over the top of the cheesecake
- Add chopped fresh fruit, either all on its own or tossed with a fruit syrup
- Warm some peanut butter with a little cream to form a sauce and pour this over the cheesecake
- Get a pitcher, go out into the front lawn, scoop out enough snow and pour it over the cheesecake.
Preventing Cheesecake Cracks
There are two main reasons why your cheesecake might form cracks: Overcooking and too-fast cooling. Both are entirely preventable. Cook your cheesecake until the outer ring of the cake is slightly puffed and fairly firm, but the inner circle still jiggles like barely set Jell-o. A few toasty golden spots are fine, but if you see any small cracks forming, immediately move on to the cooling step.
When cooling, do it gradually. Let the cheesecake sit in the turned-off oven with the door cracked for about an hour, then remove it from the water bath and let it cool completely on the stovetop. When you remove it from the waterbath, also run a thin-bladed knife around the edge to make sure the cake isn't sticking to the pan, which can also cause cracks as the cake settles.
A Water Bath Makes Cheesecake Extra Creamy
A water bath isn't strictly needed if you use starch in your recipe, and there are some methods for cooking even a starchless cheesecake on its own, but I still stand by this method. A water bath helps cook the cheeseake oh so gently while also creating a steamy environment so the surface doesn't get too dry. It's like a day spa for the cheesecake, and makes it supremely smooth and creamy.
A water bath is also not that hard. Just set the cheesecake in a roasting pan or other large baking dish, fill it with a few inches of water, and put the whole contraption in the oven. Wrapping the cheesecake pan in foil also helps keep any water from seeping through the cracks of the pan.
Starch Adds Stability
A little bit of cornstarch or flour in the cheesecake batter is insurance against cracking and makes the cake easier to cut into clean slices, though it does change the texture of the cheesecake a bit. Starch makes the cheesecake more firm and sturdy, while a cheesecake that relies on eggs alone has a softer, super-creamy texture.
I have tried both and love both. I feel like the texture difference is actually quite slight — it might be noticeable in a side-by-side comparison, but it would take a true cheesecake connoisseur to distinguish one on its own. Go whichever route makes you happiest.