Cheesecake tips: smooth sailing

You decide to make cheesecake. You’ve got the 2 pounds of cream cheese, the eggs, the sugar, vanilla, cookies for a crust…

Stop right there! For best results – and surely you don’t want any result but the very best – read these cheesecake tips before you even start preheating the oven.

Trust me, your inner cheesecake goddess will thank you.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #1: Choose your favorite crust.

Graham cracker crusts, while typical, aren’t the only way to go. Try using other cookies – vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, even chocolate sandwich cookies – in place of the graham crackers called for in your recipe. Or go with a cake crust, as they do in Brooklyn.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #2: To prevent lumps, have everything at room temperature.

A lumpy batter going into the oven won’t magically transform itself into lump-free cheesecake as it bakes. Having all of your ingredients at room temperature makes it much easier to combine everything thoroughly into smooooooth, lump-free batter.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #3: For best texture, mix the batter at low speed.

For quintessential cheesecake texture – dense without being heavy – beat filling ingredients at low or medium-low speed. Beating at high speed adds air to the batter; longer, slower beating yields a pleasantly dense cake.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #4: How to prevent the deadly cracked top.

Cheesecakes sometimes develop a cracked top. Here are some tips for “crackless” cheesecake:

  • Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature. Use an independent oven thermometer to confirm. Cheesecake baked at too high a temperature (and/or for too long) will crack.
  • Wrap your pan in cake strips, to even out baking from edge to center. Alternatively, bake it in a water bath.
  • Use lighter rather than darker pans. Dark pans absorb heat more quickly, leading to uneven baking.
  • Make sure your cake cools slowly. Cold can “shock” cheesecake into cracking. When your cake tests done, turn the oven off, prop the door open a couple of inches, and leave the cake inside to cool completely in the cooling oven.
  • If your cake cracks while baking, spread the top with sour cream 10 minutes before turning the oven off; and/or top with fruit before serving.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #5: To test for doneness, take the cake’s temperature.

To ensure your cake is baked all the way through but not over-baked, take its temperature. The perfectly baked cake will register 175°F about 1″ from the edge of the pan. Its center will still appear soft; that’s OK. Turn off the oven, it’s done.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #6: For best shape, loosen the cake’s edges.

To help prevent a slumped center, run a thin spatula or table knife all around the edge of the cake as soon as you remove it from the oven, and prior to returning it to the oven to cool.

Cheesecake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cheesecake tip #7: The final step –

Well, that’s easy: enjoy!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Mary Anne! It sounds like there might be little chunks of cream cheese in your batter. This can happen if your cream cheese isn’t quite at room temperature when you start mixing or if it isn’t creamed enough before the eggs are added. The cream cheese and sugar should be beaten until they are totally smooth — once the eggs are added any chunks of cream cheese that remain won’t be likely to smooth out or dissolve. We hope this helps for future cheesecake baking adventures! Kindly, Morgan@KAF

  1. Tresa Govern

    I make my cheesecakes in a 9×3 inch round cake pan…well greased and lined with parchment paper….when totally cooled, I flip it onto a serving platter! NO more wet cakes from water seepage! Sometimes I use a 10×3 inch pan for a larger cake!

    Reply
    1. Melinda

      Yes a water bath is essential to enhance creaminess, allow for a more evenly baked cake and no cracks.

  2. Sheila

    One of the possible crusts you have not mentioned is one based on a coconut macaroon. It is fabulous with citrus flavoured cheesecake. Basically the cheesecake is sitting on a giant coconut macaroon. Yum!

    Reply
  3. Christine

    I have a quick question about freezing cheesecakes. I’m using a recipe that uses a cup of sour cream. Will this freeze okay?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If the sour cream is in the cheese-y mixture, then once the cheesecake is baked, you can freeze according to the tips here. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  4. Jeanette

    Another idea for the crust is a can of Pillsbury Crescent rolls spread out in your pan and brought up the sides a little. Makes a very good crust and is super easy.

    Reply
  5. Judy Godwin

    I’d like to make another sugggestion for a crust for your cheesecake. Try buying a LARGE (I think mine came from Costco) jar of animal crackers, pulverized of course, with butter, sugar, etc. I really much prefer it to graham cracker crusts, which to me are so strongly-flavored that it detracts from the delicate taste of the cheesecake. I believe I saw the recipe several years ago in an ATK (America’s Test Kitchen) recipe.

    Reply
  6. Katie

    I never had a cheesecake crack, and I bake cheesecakes all the time. I always bake cheesecakes at 250F and and place a large (14-16 inch) cake pan filled with hot water on the oven rack immediately under the rack with the cheesecake. Water does not touch the bottom of the cheesecake pan (I only use professional cheesecake pans). No alliminum foil, no tricks like partially open oven, changing temperatures, etc. I take cheesecakes out of the oven as soon as they are done, let them sit on the cooling rack for a few hours, then refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

    Reply

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