Friday, August 25, 2006

Successful Cheesecakes

From Great American Home Baking

Before you begin baking, be sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. They will mix more easily and the finished cake will have a smoother texture.

Combine the cream cheese or ricotta and eggs thoroughly before adding any liquid extracts, heavy cream or sour cream. Lumps are impossible to remove once the liquid ingredients that thin the batter have been added.

The paddle attachment of an electric mixer is ideal for mixing the batter. Regular whipping beaters incorporate too much air into the batter, which can lead to cracks in the finished cake and the cake could be less creamy. If using regular whipping beaters, set the mixer at low or medium-low speed so only a minimum amount of air is whipped into the batter.

Fold in whipped cream and beaten egg whites with a wire whisk or rubber spatula. Fold gently and slowly, taking care not to deflate the volume of the whipped ingredients.

Always use regular cream cheese for cheesecakes, unless otherwise noted.

Cheesecake bases are generally made from cookie crumbs mixed with softened or melted butter. To crush the cookies, grind them in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or place them in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Extremes of temperature can lead to surface cracks. Cool the cheesecake in a turned-off oven. Use a wooden spoon to keep the door slightly ajar. Do not cool off in a cold or drafty place.

Deep cracks mean the egg white structure collapsed. The cheesecake will be wet, more like a pudding than a cake.

Another way to prevent cracks, from Food Network

Before baking, set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake.

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