Classic American baked New York cheesecake is everyone’s favourite dessert, with a crunchy biscuit layer and creamy, fluffy cheesecake topping with a hint of tanginess cooked slowly until golden. Now where did I put my fork?!
This recipe is an impressive after-dinner showstopper to have up your sleeve for guests, with lots of options for serving each silky slice with seasonal fresh fruits, sauces and compotes or decorating with crushed praline, chocolate shavings, honeycomb, chopped nuts or crunchy biscuit crumbs.
But if your cheesecakes are prone to crack and crumble, you need our expert baking tips.
Top tips for the perfect baked cheesecake:
1. Use an oven thermometer to calibrate your oven to the suggested temperature before you bake.
This will knock lots of temperature-related problems on the head and ensure your cheesecake won’t come out too wobbly, too burnt, sunken or cracked.
2. Cheesecakes can be a little tricky to remove, so tin preparation is key.
Don’t forget to line your tin with a circle of baking paper and grease the sides of the tin lightly with butter or non-stick baking spray. A springform tin is your best bet for easy removal of your cheesecake.
3. You could smash your biscuits in an airtight plastic bag with a rolling pin, but we recommend using a food processor to whizz them up.
This way, you’ll get a fine and even crumb.
4. A large metal measuring cup with a flat base makes an excellent press for the biscuit base.
Rather than patting down with clean hands or with the back of a spoon, this cool and level metal surface will press the base down evenly ensuring it isn’t over-compressed or so loose it will fall apart once sliced.
5. Use room temperature ingredients (eggs and cream cheese) so that your cheesecake mixture whips up smoothly and so that you aren’t left struggling to incorporate air.
This is crucial to a light and fluffy cheesecake. That said, the cream cheese should not be warm enough to melt.
6. Over-mixing your cheesecake topping will cause it to split and you don’t want too much air in there; you’re not making a soufflé!
Use a slow speed when mixing and stop once the filling is completely smooth and creamy.
7. Don’t skip the bain-marie method if the recipe suggests it. Cooking your cheesecake gently in a water bath takes away some of the scorching heat from the oven and lets it bake gently.
Gentle cooking equals smooth cheesecakes. Line both tins well with foil and fill the tray carefully with water once the cheesecake is positioned in the centre, taking care not to splash your cheesecake with water.
You can double up the foil if you feel there is any risk of your cheesecake becoming waterlogged by water seeping in.
8. A little wobble is a good thing!
The middle of a cheesecake is a little like cooking scrambled egg, as the residual heat from the pan continues to cook the eggs in the mixture once taken off the heat.
After removing from the oven, your cheesecake will continue to cook a little, so a slight jiggle in the middle is a good thing as it means you haven’t overcooked it. So shake it, baby…
9. Stir in added ingredients last.
For a cheesecake studded with other ingredients, tumble in fruits, berries, chocolate chips or nuts just before baking to prevent them sinking and give them a quick stir with a spoon.
10. Heat your knife in hot water before slicing to serve for a neat finish.
It’s also good to clean your knife down and remove any cheesecake or crumbs before making the next cut for clean presentation. Cheesecakes slice best straight from the fridge, so chilled is ideal.