Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday Morning Post
Home made cheesecakes always crack. You have to expect it. It's their nature.
When you beat eggs, you beat in air. Air rises in a warm oven taking the cheesecake batter with it. Since there's no (or very little) flour to form a structure to trap and hold the warm air, the cheesecake collapses as it cools causing a crack.
(Commercial cheesecakes, by the way, use stabilizers or other methods to prevent cracking.)
You can minimize cracking. Try one or all of these hints. If you still wind up with a crack, do what the pro's do - cover it with fresh fruit, fruit topping, whipped cream or sour cream.
1. Don't over mix
Beat the sugar and cream cheese until very smooth. Stir in the eggs until just combined.
2. Use the food processor
Try making your favorite recipe in the food processor or blend instead of the mixer. It adds less air.
3. Bake at a lower temperature
Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees adjusting baking time as necessary.
4. Open the oven door
Sounds silly (and you'd never do this for a regular cake) but if you open the oven door briefly every 15 minutes or so, the cold air coming into the oven will cause the cheesecake to fall a little each time releasing the trapped air in the batter. Adjust the baking time as necessary.
5. Don't over bake
The number one reason cheesecakes crack.
Unless your recipe says otherwise, bake only until it is "just set" to a light touch. This means the cheesecake will jiggle. It will not be firm and a little batter will stick to your finger when you press very lightly in the center. There's a very fine lie between "just set" and raw. Experience is the only way to learn the difference.
A cheesecake should not look "done" when you take it out of the oven. Cheesecakes firm up over night in the refrigerator. A tooth pick test doesn't work, btw, because it will always come out gooey, even when your cheesecake is done.
6. Shut off the oven
Without opening the oven door, shut off the oven 10 minutes before the cheesecake will be done. Leave the cheesecake in the turned off oven for 15 minutes (that's 5 minutes more than the recipe says). After 15 minutes, crack open the oven door and (without disturbing the cheesecake or moving the oven rack) leave the cheesecake in the oven (with the door open) another 5 minutes before removing the cheesecake.
7. Cool before refrigerating
Let the cheesecake cool (away from the heat of the oven) for 1 hour (uncovered) before putting it into the refrigerator. Putting it into the refrigerator too soon will make the cheesecake cool too fast causing cracking.
8. Recipes with sour cream crack less
The acid of the sour cream softens the protein of the egg so less air is trapped. Less air, less cracking.
9. Add a pan of water to the oven
Moisture in the oven helps prevent cracking. The humidity keeps the top of the cheese cake moist and porous so the air can continue to rise in the warm oven and escape completely through the top of the cheesecake. Adjust the baking time as necessary. This is different than cheesecakes baked in a water bath.
Want an easy way to make a cheesecake that doesn't crack?
Try our Chocolate and Peanut Butter Creme Cheesecake baked in the slow cooker. (Yes, right in the slow cooker!)