Cheesecakes are rich and decadent, with a silky texture that makes them a delicious dessert. While technically a custard, cheesecake has a firm, smooth texture, and you can slice and serve it like a cake. The two most common types of cheesecake, from which all others stem, are Italian- and New York-style cheesecake. Each type of cheesecake has its own ingredients, but the baking methods are the same.
Understanding the Ingredients
A New York-style cheesecake uses cream cheese, which makes it have a very rich, smooth texture. Italian cheesecake, on the other hand, uses cottage cheese or ricotta instead of cream cheese, which gives it a lighter texture. When preparing either type of cheesecake, bring your ingredients to room temperature before you mix them to prevent any lumps from forming.
Filling Your Crust Right
Always pour the filling into a cooled, pre-made crust in a springform or special cheesecake pan. Run a sharp knife between the cheesecake and the sides of your baking pan before you bake it to create a barrier that will help prevent any cracks from forming in your cheesecake as it bakes and cools.
Baking the Cheesecake
Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on your directions, which is typically from 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make a water bath by placing your cheesecake -- pan and all -- in a shallow baking dish filled with a small amount of water, which help keep your cheesecake moist during the baking process. Bake the cheesecake until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or until the center is just slightly wiggly when you move the pan, which generally takes from 1 to 2 hours. Don’t open the door of the oven during the first 30 minutes of baking as it may cause cracks to form. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly cracked as the cheesecake cools in the oven, then remove it and allow it to finish cooling on a wire rack. This process keeps your cheesecake from cracking or sinking.
Storing Your Cheesecake
When your cheesecake is completely cooled, wrap it and store it in the refrigerator for three to seven days. To freeze it, wrap your cake with multiple layers of plastic wrap and a final layer of aluminum foil; store it in your freezer for up to six months.
Never over-mix a cheesecake batter. Mix it until the ingredients are just combined, and the batter is silky. When serving your cheesecake, serve it at room temperature for the best flavor. If you’ve just baked your cheesecake, don’t add any toppings until it has cooled for one to two hours. While serving your cheesecake, dip your knife in hot water to make a clean cut.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images