A perfect homemade cheesecake is the stuff of dreams. It looks great and tastes downright delicious. Unfortunately, there are quite a few things that can go wrong with these delicate desserts; a soggy base, undercooked mix, slumped crust, and a grainy texture are some of the most common cheesecake troubles you are most likely to encounter.
If you have experienced a few of these problems before, you are certainly not alone. Throughout my baking journey, I have had my fair share of cheesecake disasters. After years of trial and error, I have honed my cheesecake skills and picked up a trick or two to help me whip up a perfect dessert.
Why is my cheesecake grainy was a frequent question I found myself asking, and one that problem that doesn’t have a blatantly obvious answer.
Here, I want to talk about the unwanted grainy texture that can sometimes occur with a home-baked cheesecake. We will have a look at some of the main causes of grainy cheesecake, in both baked and non-baked cakes, and what you can do to prevent it in the future.
Let’s get started!
Cheesecake ingredients – what goes into it?
The first step to preventing grainy cheesecake is to think about the ingredients you are using.
The baked cheesecake is essentially a combination of cheese and cake-like batter. You have some standard ingredients that give this dessert structure, flavor, and body. You have supplementary ingredients that add flavor and depth to your dessert. These supplementary ingredients include chocolate, fruit puree, and nuts. Of course, these vary, depending on the type of cheesecake you are making.
All these ingredients work together to ultimately create that delectable sweet treat we are crazy about. Mixing these ingredients properly (and in the right order) is a crucial first step to prevent a grainy cheesecake. Also, it’s definitely worth remembering that the ingredients (and I mean all the ingredients) that go into the cheesecake filling, should be at room temperature.
Why is my cheesecake grainy?
It goes without saying that baked and non-baked cheesecakes are set in different ways from one another. Because of this, there are different reasons as to why both can create that unwanted grainy texture.
No bake cheesecake
For these types of cheesecake, using the correct ingredients and properly mixing them is essential as this affects the sugar in your cheesecake batter. Here are the most common reasons why you could experience a grainy non-baked cheesecake.
The sugar hasn’t dissolved properly
One of the most common reasons why a no-bake cheesecake can become grainy is because the sugar has not dissolved properly.
If the sugar, especially when using granulated sugar, is not creamed well with the cheese there are going to be tiny chunks of undissolved sugar in the filling. This can make your dessert texture grainy or gritty.
Your sugar wasn’t fine enough
Fine-ground sugar dissolves and melts faster than granules. Even after all that mixing and creaming you do, your granulated sugar might be to thick and may still not combine properly with the other ingredients.
To solve this problem, use a fine ground alternative like caster sugar. This sugar dissolves better and blends well with cream cheese. When you remove your set dessert from the fridge, you’re assured of a non-grainy texture.
You didn’t mix the ingredients well enough
It is important that all ingredients are mixed properly so the sugar dissolves.
Some experts recommended a food processor but if you overmix the ingredients, you end up with a very soft filling that does not keep its shape, even after hours in the fridge.
If you are mixing by hand with a whisk or spatula, you are probably not creaming the sugar and cheese well enough to get that smooth texture. If you are still using good old-fashioned elbow grease, I recommend having a look at some of the best cheesecake mixers.
You didn’t use room temperature cream cheese
Make sure that the cream cheese is at room temperature. This helps the sugar mix into cheese and other ingredients. If the cream cheese is too cold, the sugar may not dissolve properly and will make your cheesecake grainy and crumbly.
Again, this room temperature thing applies to all the other ingredients as well. They won’t combine as easily with the creamed sugar and cheese when some of them are still feeling the shivers from their time in the fridge.
Baked cheesecake can also end up with a grainy texture but for slightly different reasons than its non-baked counterpart.
You overcooked the eggs
As you know, baked cheesecakes contain eggs (unless you’re baking the vegan way) which provides structure and allows the batter to bind properly. A grainy baked cheesecake is almost always a sign that you have over-cooked the eggs.
The problem occurs when you cook the cheesecake for longer, or at a higher temperature than you should have. This causes the eggs to overcook and make your cheesecake grainy. The proteins in the cheesecake will force the moisture to seep out leading to cracks on the crust and some liquid oozing out.
You’re not using water bath
Closely linked to the point above, there is a reason why baked cheesecakes are cooked in a water bath. The water bath helps regulate the temperature and ensures the cheesecake cooks in gentle and constant heat. Even if your recipe doesn’t mention this, almost every cheesecake connoisseur will tell you that you need to bake it in Bain Marie and at low temperatures.
If you indeed used a water bath, baked at a lower temperature, and still faced the grainy issue, then there’s only one possible answer:
Your oven screwed you over
We all know that a bad workman blames his tools, but sometimes, you can blame the oven for the unwanted cheesecake texture. Each oven is calibrated differently and some heat up faster or fluctuate between various temperatures, which of course can have an impact on the cooking time of your cheesecake.
A fan-based oven will bake food faster than a conventional oven. This can spell disaster for anything that needs slow and steady cooking, including your cheesecake.
If you’re using a fan-based oven, why not try reducing the temperature by 20C/50F. Always use an oven thermometer to measure the heat levels whether you’re making brownies or cheesecake. Adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly.
The other and effective way to prevent overcooking of the eggs and the cheesecake is to keep a close eye on it and know how to spot a sufficiently cooked dessert. When you don’t let that succulent cheesecake cook more than it should, you reduce the possibility of eggs overcooking and the resulting grainy texture.
How to fix a grainy cheesecake?
Unfortunately, once you have a grainy cheesecake (either baked or non-baked) there’s not really much you can do to fix it. The dessert is already set and the damage is done.
You probably don’t want to hear this, but really, all you can do is learn from your mistakes. Take on board all the tips I just mentioned, figure our what went wrong this time, and take steps in the future to prevent that pesky grainy texture from ever ruining a dessert again.
The best way to prevent your baked goodies from overcooking and becoming grainy is stopping the baking process and commencing the cooling sequence (this is a really important step with making cheesecake!)
Of course, to do that, you need to learn to tell if a cheesecake is perfectly cooked. I cover that in detail (and share some great tips on how to test your desserts) in this article.
Say good bye to grainy desserts!
Baking a cheesecake and getting it perfectly right takes time and patience. By watching out for the common issues known causes the grainy texture in a cheesecake (like overcooked eggs or undissolved sugar) you are doing to be whipping up everyone’s favorite dessert in no time.
Remember, mix those ingredients well, use a water bath, and bear in mind my other top tips, and you will be making silky-smooth cheesecakes in no time.
And remember the two Ps – patience and practice!