Q: How do I prevent cracking?
A: The big bugaboo with cheesecake is cracking. Cheesecakes, like custards, rely heavily on eggs to set, which means they must cook gently and slowly. Otherwise the eggs puff, overcook and get grainy, then constrict when cooled, resulting in an undesirable split in your smooth cake.
The main trick with cheesecake is gentle, coaxing heat. Just as you want them to cook slowly, you also want them to cool gradually. Quick changes of temperature upset the structure of the cake, causing cracks. For a moister, creamier cake, turn off the heat when the center's still loose and let cool in the oven.
- Many cheesecakes, like our classic one, are baked in a water bath (a pan of water) to moderate the temperature. Since water remains at a constant temperature, the cake sets slowly, resulting in a super-creamy cheesecake.
- With richly flavored cheesecakes, like our peanut butter or chocolate ones, the same result can be achieved by baking slowly at low temperatures.
- To prevent the cheesecake from cracking as it cools, run a thin knife around the edge of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. After chilling, remove the springform ring (but not the metal base).
A crack in your cheesecake is not the end of the world. Simply use it as a starting point when cutting your first slice.