Cheesecake is one of the most deliciously simple desserts to make and one of the easiest to get wrong, leaving me confused as to what I did, or didn’t do!
I love the debate of baked cheesecake vs no-bake cheesecake. Personally, I prefer the baked cheesecake, the density and texture just sing to me!
I have also learnt a few tricks along the way on how to prevent cheesecake from cracking. The fear of the cheesecake cracking is one of the main reasons people steer clear of a baked version!
Here’s some things I have learnt about why my first attempts at a baked cheesecake, cracked.
Why does cheesecake crack?
Eggs naturally hold air, and if whisked too much they will create too much rise when it is baking and too much fall when it’s cooling. Then, you will inevitably see a cracked cheesecake!
Only mix as much as it takes to combine the ingredients smoothly. Too much air will have it behaving like a soufflé during cooking, and when it cools, the cracks will most likely appear.
The oven temperature is too high
Don’t be tempted to speed the baking process up by using a hotter oven temperature!
This will rapidly bake your cheesecake and dry out the outer layer faster than the inside can set nicely.
A lower temperature for a more even bake is best for reducing the potential of you wailing “Why did my cheesecake crack?!”
You keep opening the oven door!
Did you open the oven door during baking to check on your cheesecake? As tempting as it might be, don’t open your ovens people!
A rapid change in temperature will increase the chance of a crack on the surface of your cheesecake.
You’re not using a water bath
A water bath might look like an unnecessary step, and many people do skip this as they don’t think it’s needed.
You can still make a good cheesecake without a water bath, but if you find that your cheesecake cracks often, then that’s probably the issue.
Not using a water bath will most likely cause your cheesecake to crack in the middle.
How to keep cheesecake from cracking
Use a water bath!
Bake using the water bath method. Why? Because cheesecakes love an environment full of moisture!
Placing the cheesecake in it’s spring-form tin, securing it tightly with foil inside a larger pan of water will prevent the cheesecake from drying out during baking and will help the cheesecake to bake evenly.
The steam produced from the water bath during baking also reduces the likelihood of your cheesecake sinking during cooling
The water bath method is what I use to avoid a cracked cheesecake, and it works perfectly every time.
Bake low and slow
Choose to bake at a low temperature and a slow bake time. This is so important for the quality and appearance of your finished cheesecake, minus the cracks.
It is recommended that you bake your cheesecake at around 325F/160C for around 1.5 hours. Yes, I know this is a very long time to be waiting for cheesecake to bake!
But, low and slow is what will make the cheesecake velvety in texture, rich in flavor, and without any cracks.
Baking a cheesecake at a low and slow temperature also helps the eggs from over coagulation. I mean, who wants to eat scrambled egg cheesecake, right?
Don’t open the oven!
Yes, we’ve said this before, and we will say it again! Do not (under any circumstances!) open the oven door during baking!
Only open the oven door to check for doneness when the baking time has nearly been reached.
This avoids extreme drops in the temperature, and lessens the risk of, you guessed it, cracks!
Letting the cheesecake cool down completely is also so important to the appearance and texture of your final product, as well as helping prevent cracks.
Best practice is to let the cheesecake cool down in the oven, with the oven off and the door slightly left open. This avoids a cracked cheesecake surface.
How to fix a cracked cheesecake
The most obvious way to disguise a crack on a cheesecake is to decorate it!
Whipped cream would be the lightest option, so you don’t add too much weight to the delicate structure.
If the crack is in the middle of the cheesecake (where the structure is at its most delicate) it’s probably best to not pile your disguises too heavily in case it splits completely open!
The use of some light and pretty fruit like berries can make it look almost deliberate!
If your desire is a perfectly level and not-a-crack-to-be-seen cheesecake, then you can attempt a clever technique to level the surface and repair the cracks.
Once the cheesecake has been completely cooled in the refrigerator, start off by placing an offset palette knife in hot water and wipe off all the excess water.
The trick here is to gently press and spread the top of the cheesecake with the warm palette knife until the top is smooth and the crack has been filled, then hey, you have mastered how to fix cheesecake cracks!
There are many things you can do (and not do) in order to learn how to prevent cheesecake from cracking.
Some things you can do are a constant, like keeping a low oven temperature to ensure an even bake and not opening your oven too soon (no peeking!)
You can also use the water bath method to bake your cheesecake in, which will help keep your cheesecake nice and moist and bake it evenly.
If you have done absolutely everything by the book and somehow the cracks still appear at the last hurdle, rather than wasting your hard effort, you can attempt a repair using the method above.
Or, you can find your artistic flair and flourish some fruit and cream in a fancy fashion over the crack as a very attractive disguise! (Shh..no one will ever know!)
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