Cheesecake is one of the most popular and ubiquitous dessert items in America. It is also one of the trickiest desserts to perfect in home baking. Cheesecake requires precise and committed temperature control to achieve an attractive, uncracked surface. Even opening the oven door to check the cheesecake while it cooks compromises that goal. The best way to cool a cheesecake is gradually, allowing it to stay in the oven as it cools.
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Follow the recipe to mix the cheesecake batter and pour it into a springform pan. Set the oven as instructed to preheat the oven.
Put the cheesecake into the oven to bake as the recipe instructs.
Refrain from opening the oven even once during baking. Once the cheesecake is in the oven, you can check through the viewing glass on the door, but do not open the door. Even a brief open-door peek can change the air temperature enough to cause a crack in the cake's surface.
Turn the oven off when the cooking time ends. Do not remove the cheesecake from the oven. Do not even open the door.
Wait a couple of hours until the majority of the oven's heat dissipates. The door might feel a touch warm, but there should no longer be a marked difference between the outside air and the temperature in the oven.
Open the oven door a crack to the point at which it props itself open, leaving a two or three inch opening that allows outside air to come into contact with the cheesecake.
Leave the cheesecake to finish cooling in the oven overnight.
Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator the next morning to keep it cold until serving.