Do you love a good cheesecake, but hate to pay a high price for this delectable dessert at your grocery store or favorite restaurant? Not to worry, cheesecake is easy to prepare in your own kitchen as long as you follow a few simple steps. Plus you don’t need a lot of special equipment to make a great cheesecake, just an electric mixer and a springform pan!
The best part about making cheesecake at home is that it allows you to create the flavor you love and control the quality of ingredients you add to your cheesecake.
Keep reading to learn how to make an excellent cheesecake and find new cheesecake recipes to enjoy.
Cheesecake Facts :
-A type of “cheesecake”, very different from the cheesecake of today, was popular in ancient Greece.
-Cheesecake can be either baked or prepared and allowed to set up in the refrigerator. However, the same cheesecake recipe cannot be prepared both ways.
-Different areas of the world rely on different types of cheese for their cheesecake. In addition to cream cheese, it is common to see recipes calling for ricotta, cottage cheese, Neufchatel, mascarpone or even goat cheese.
-Regions across the United States put their own spin on cheesecake. New York Style Cheesecake adds extra yolks to the cheesecake batter; while Philadelphia Style features a richer flavor, but lighter texture than the New York Style. Chicago Style cheesecake has a creamy inside and firm outside due to the sour cream in its batter. St. Louis Style cheesecake usually features a layer of cake to top the cheesecake.
Tips for preparing Cheesecake :
Start with ingredients that are at room temperature and cream cheese that is softened. Bring eggs to room temperature by placing them in a warm water bath for about an hour. Soften cream cheese by microwaving an unwrapped portion in 30-45 second increments on High, until the cheese is barely softened.
Be careful not to over mix your cheesecake batter. Over mixing will make your cheesecake crack and ruin its creamy texture. Make sure that you have removed any lumps from the cream cheese before you add the eggs. Add the eggs last and mix the batter as little as possible after they are added to keep the cheesecake texture light and airy.
No Cracks Allowed :
Begin by generously greasing the sides of the springform pan before adding the cheesecake batter. This will allow the cheesecake to pull away from the sides of the pan, instead of pulling apart from the middle, as it cools. Adding 1 Tbsp of cornstarch with the sugar when you prepare your cheesecake batter will also help prevent cracks. Place a water bath on the rack below the cheesecake to keep the oven moist and the cheesecake creamy and delicious. Turn off the oven while the center of the cheesecake is still loose. To test for “looseness”, lightly jiggle the pan. If just the very center is still wobbly, your cheesecake is done. Allow the cheesecake to remain in the oven while cooling.
To stop your cheesecake from cracking after it has cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cake, between the cake and the pan, immediately after you take the cheesecake out of the oven.
The Pan :
Always generously grease your pan, even if it claims to be nonstick. To protect your oven from cheesecake batter leaking out of the springform pan, place a pizza pan or cookie sheet under the springform pan as your cheesecake bakes or wrap the bottom and halfway up the sides of the springform pan in aluminum foil. After you have chilled the cheesecake in the refrigerator, remove the edge portion of the springform pan. You can leave the bottom piece in place or remove it using two spatulas to shift your cheesecake to a serving dish. If you are worried about using a springform pan successfully, skip it and use a prepared graham cracker or cookie crust.
Cheesecakes need to be cooked slowly and gently because of the large amount of eggs in the batter. Do not be tempted to rush the baking process by cooking it at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.
Keep the oven door closed while your cheesecake is baking. If you open it, the moisture created by the water bath will escape and your cheesecake texture will suffer.
Use a knife dipped in warm water to cut your cheesecake. Before slicing the next piece, wipe any cheesecake crumbs or moisture from your knife. Use a cake or pie server to transfer the cheesecake to a plate and then garnish with pie filling, chocolate or caramel sauce, chopped pieces of a candy bar, or fresh fruit.
Do not refrigerate the cheesecake until it has cooled completely. Your cheesecake should be chilled in the fridge for at least 6 hours before cutting or eating. Cheesecake will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days, covered loosely. If you prefer to eat your cheesecake at room temperature instead of chilled, let it set on the counter for about half-an-hour before you plan to eat it. To freeze your whole cheesecake, wrap it in heavy foil or plastic after it has cooled completely and then freeze. You could also freeze your cheesecake by the slice. To thaw your frozen cheesecake, allow it to set overnight in the refrigerator.
What to do if your cheesecake cracks :
Serve it sliced and work around the crack. If it is a small crack, cover it with fruit or another topping.