Cheesecake is a favourite sweet treat for many, consisting of one or more layers with a delicious base of biscuit, sponge or even pastry. These delicious cakes can be as simple or as decadent as you like. In Ireland, we are fans of the set variety, but there’s a whole other world of cheesecake we’re missing out on. If you haven’t tried a baked cheesecake, you must! Read on for all the tips and tricks you need.
Room temperature cream cheese
Most cheesecake recipes ask for “softened” cream cheese, and that word is there for a reason. Softened cream cheese is much creamier when mixed, allowing it to blend better with the other ingredients. If your cream cheese is too cold, the final cheesecake will be lumpy. If you forget to bring the cream cheese up to room temperature, you can pop it into the microwave for 20-second bursts until it has softened, just be sure to not heat it for too long as you don’t want it to be too warm.
No soggy bottoms
Most cheesecakes bases are made of crushed biscuit combined with melted butter. As there is such a wet mixture to go on top, it is important to ensure the base is completely set before continuing with the recipe. Always make your base first, pour it into a lined tin and allow it to chill for at least 10 minutes, but longer is better. If you’re familiar with cheesecake recipes, the ratio of butter to biscuit is much higher. You can ensure a stable foundation for your cheesecake and no soggy bottom.
Mixing your cheesecake batter is a delicate balance. You have to mix the cream cheese to remove any lumps, while being careful not to beat all of the air out of the mix. You want a light and airy cheesecake, so it’s important to fold in your ingredients.
Chill out cheesecake
The filling needs proper chilling — aim for a minimum of four hours, but preferably overnight. Once set, the cheesecake should be shiny and firm to the touch. You can remove the cheesecake from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Decorate your cheesecake with whatever you fancy and wow your guests.
A lot of the basic principles still apply for baked cheesecakes, such as room temperature ingredients, a set base and not over-mixing. However, there are some things to keep in mind specifically for this type of cheesecake.
Spring form tin
A spring form cake tin is best for either variety, as it allows the cheesecake to come out of the tin with ease. Due to its custard-like texture, anything other than a spring form tin is very likely to ruin a cheesecake when you try to remove it from the tin.
When it comes to baked cheesecakes, it is important not to over-beat the mixture. If there is too much air incorporated, it can cause the cake to rise too quickly in the oven, and this will lead it to fall and crack. It is best to mix all of the other ingredients first before incorporating the eggs one at a time. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix, to avoid any lumps.
A water bath (or “bain marie” if you’re fancy) is a technique in which your cake sits in a tin full of hot water while it bakes. This allows the heat to be evenly dispersed, giving the cheesecake an even bake. Wrap the bottom of your cake tin with foil before placing it into a roasting tin. Add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the cake tin, then bake.