Aah, cheesecake. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser. No one can resist its soft, creamy, melt-in-the-mouth texture. This dessert is always a great choice if you want to impress your friends at a dinner party.
Having said that, cheesecake can be a very tricky dessert to make – I’ve certainly had my fair share of mental breakdowns over my cheesecake not setting, being too runny, or sinking in the middle.
The problem with cheesecake is that it can be tricky to tell if it is set in the middle. I have sliced into an undercooked cheesecake too many times, and let’s just say I have learnt the hard way.
With so many failed attempts, I eventually discovered what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making cheesecake and how to tell when and if the cheesecake is done. If you’re about to give up with your cheesecake and are close to throwing it in the bin, don’t! You might still be able to salvage it. Keep reading if your cheesecake needs saving and you want to learn how to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked.
Cheesecakes come in all different shapes and sizes, flavors, and fillings. You can use pretty much any biscuit base you like and you can choose to make a baked cheesecake or a non-baked one.
When I say you can literally make any flavor, I really mean every flavor! New York style cheesecake, Spanish basque cheesecake, strawberries, oreos, chocolate, berries, you name it. You can make all your favorite flavors into a delicious, creamy cheesecake.
A baked cheesecake consists of cream cheese, full-fat double cream/sour cream, sugar, eggs, and sometimes a bit of flour to help bind all the ingredients together. All the ingredients are combined and poured into a tin with a biscuit or Oreo base (or any base you like).
To really get the creaminess of the cheesecake, a baked cheesecake is usually cooked in a water bath. Even if your recipe doesn’t mention a water bath but still want a smooth finish to your cheesecake, make sure you still use one. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. A water bath provides a humid environment that prevents your cheesecake from cracking in the in the middle. A crack isn’t a bad thing at all though, especially if you like a more rustic look to your cheesecake.
Cheesecake is baked at a high temperature for the first 10 minutes, at around 200C fan/392F. Then the oven is reduced to 160C fan/230F and baked for a further 45/50 minutes.
A cheesecake when baked is quite dense and velvety – so be sure to stick to just one (or two…) slices as it’s quite a heavy dessert. Although if there is one dessert worth getting a stomach ache from, it’s definitely from eating your body weight in cheesecake. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
A no-bake cheesecake is basically a baked cheesecake minus the eggs and flour.
Without gelatin, I’ve had times where my cheesecake is runny in the middle and doesn’t set properly – no one wants a runny cheesecake!
Even though a no-bake cheesecake is light and airy, nothing beats the velvety texture of a baked cheesecake. The process might be long, but it’s totally worth it.
But knowing when is the cheesecake done can be tricky and you need to know what signs to look for when checking if you have an undercooked cheesecake or an overcooked one.
Some recipes talk about baking your cheesecake for 30 minutes, while others say 50 minutes.
With every oven being different, it’s good to note down a few tips and tricks that will ensure your cheesecake comes out looking perfect every time.
How To Tell If a Cheesecake is Done
Use A Thermometer
There are a few things that you can try that will help with how to tell if a cheesecake is done. A fool proof method is to poke the cheesecake in the middle with an instant-read cooking thermometer. If your thermometer reads 150F/66C then you’ll know your cheesecake is cooked to perfection.
This method is probably the most accurate way to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked. And, if you are wondering, ‘Should cheesecake jiggle after baking?’, yes, it’s perfectly normal for the cheesecake to jiggle after baking.
It doesn’t mean it’s undercooked. Trust your thermometer and turn off your oven, leave the oven door open and let your cheesecake completely cool down.
If you are one of the many people who do not have a cooking thermometer, there are various other ways to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked, but these methods are a little tricky to perfect.
The Cheesecake Jiggle Test
A simple yet effective way to tell if your cheesecake is undercooked or not is by jiggling it. Pop on a pair of oven gloves and open the oven. Gently give the cheesecake a little shake.
If there is a large jiggly area and there is mixture seeping from the sides then the cheesecake is still undercooked and needs a little longer in the oven. If only the centre jiggles then you are good to go!
Turn the oven off, leave the cheesecake to cool down for a few hours and you should have a nice textured baked cheesecake.
You don’t want to use a skewer or a knife to check the cheesecake is done like you would with a cake.
Using a skewer or knife might create a crack in the middle of the cheesecake. Plus, since the mixture is wet, it doesn’t accurately show you if your cheesecake is cooked through.
Pressing With Your Finger
You can also tell if a cheesecake is undercooked by using your finger. With a clean hand, place your finger in the middle of the cheesecake and press gently.
If it feels firm then it is cooked perfectly. If your finger sinks and there is a bit of batter residue left on your finger then your cheesecake is still too soft and you have an undercooked cheesecake.
If it feels undercooked, pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes at a time until your cheesecake feels firm to the touch.
How To Make Cheesecake Firmer
I briefly mentioned earlier that a cheesecake will continue to cook itself even after the oven is turned off.
So, by thinking the cheesecake is undercooked and keeping it in the oven for longer to bake, you run the risk of overbaking your cheesecake.
If you leave your cheesecake in the oven for longer, it will firm up too much by the time it’s ready to be served and eaten, resulting in a dry and crumbly cheesecake.
You may be fooled into thinking that the cheesecake needs to be brown at the top.
A cheesecake, to be creamy and velvety, needs to come out of the oven with a pale top (unless you are making a Basque cheesecake which is deliberately burnt).
A browned cheesecake is a sign that your cheesecake is overcooked. A crack will begin to form at the top once the cheesecake starts to overbake.
Are you ready to serve your cheesecake now? Oh no! As much as we all want to dive into an indulging slice of cheesecake, you need to let it fully set in the fridge, preferably overnight.
This is what really makes your cheesecake firm up, creamy and velvety, not how long you bake it for.
How To Fix Undercooked Cheesecake
You’ve done everything you could to make sure your cheesecake comes out nice a firm, but for some reason it’s still undercooked. Don’t worry – there are a few simple steps you can take to fix an undercooked cheesecake and ensure it comes out perfectly every time.
The first thing to do is put your cheesecake back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes each time. This helps firm up the mixture even more and cooks any remaining undercooked areas.
Let it rest. This is such an important step in making cheesecake. Once you’ve taken the cheesecake out of the oven, let it rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This allows any remaining heat in the cheesecake to gradually dissipate, ensuring that it will set up properly and won’t be too runny or gooey. After that you need to place it in the fridge overnight to set even further. You might be surprised to see the next morning that all the stressing was for nothing and all it needed was to set overnight.
If your cheesecake is still undercooked after following these steps, let it come to room temperature and bake it again at a lower temperature for longer. For example, you might want to bake it at 150F for around 10 to 15 minutes. Just make sure you keep checking it every few minutes. If it starts to brown on top, then you’ve baked it for too long and now you have an overcooked cheesecake.
If you didn’t use a water bath the first time, you could try putting it in a water bath, as I mentioned before. The water bath will help bake the cheesecake evenly and it should rectify the undercooked cheesecake.
If all things fail, don’t throw away your cheesecake. You can put it in the freezer and have frozen cheesecake instead. If the center is just too jiggly but the sides seem to be cooked through, you could always just cut the sides off and make deep fried cheesecake bites.
How Is Your Cheesecake Now?
So, now you know how to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked. There is really a fine line that determines whether your cheesecake is undercooked or overcooked.
Hopefully, these tips will help you with being able to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked, overcooked or cooked to perfection.
If you are still unable to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked or not, to be on the safe side, leave your cheesecake in the oven to bake for an extra 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn the oven off and let it sit there until it has fully cooled down.
You’d rather run the risk of your cheesecake being slightly on the firm side than serving a cheesecake where the eggs have not been cooked properly.
It might be tricky to tell if a cheesecake is undercooked but just trust your instincts and follow a few of the tips.
And remember, practice makes perfect. You’ll be a cheesecake pro in no time!