Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Forty-Eight!

Are you having trouble making the perfect cheesecake?   Here are some of the common problem you may encounter along with some solutions to help you prevent these baking “failures.”

Cracked Top
This is usually caused by either over-beating the batter, over-baking, or exposing the cheesecake to high a heat for too long.  Sometimes a sudden change in temperature can also cause cracking (don’t cool in a draft).  Simple solutions include:

  • Add a pan of water beneath the cheesecake as it bakes (adds moisture to the air).
  • Add a teaspoon of cornstarch (natural thickening agent) into the batter before pouring the batter into the pan. This will guard against the cheesecake separating.
  • Leave the cheesecake in the over, but turn the oven off and crack the door open as the cheesecake cools.

Lumpy Cheesecake
Generally a result of poor or incomplete mixing.  Simple solutions include:

  • Mix until smooth.
  • Bring the cheese and the eggs to room temperature before using (I bring all refrigerated ingredients to room temperature before I begin).

Burnt Top
Generally a result of baking the cheesecake too long or at too high a temperature.  Simple solutions include:

  • Bake at a lower temperature and increase the time.
  • Use a water bath (wrap heavy duty aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan, set in a larger pan, and pour water until it is about half-way up the sides of the pan.

Spotty Top
Generally the result of air bubbles that rise to the top and then bake/brown faster than the rest of the cheesecake.  Simple solutions include:

  • Don’t over-beat the batter.
  • Tap the pan on the counter to help “pop” some of the bubbles.
  • Use a toothpick to prick the air bubbles.

Soupy Center
Generally a sign that you’ve undercooked the cheesecake.   Simple solution:

  • Cook a little longer (use the jiggle test — the center should jiggle just a little, but should firm up as it cools and is refrigerated).
  • Leave the cheesecake in the over, but turn the oven off and crack the door open as the cheesecake cools.

Sometimes is just doesn’t work out.  I’ve been baking cheesecakes for years and every now and then, you just have “issues.”  Just try to troubleshoot as you go.  Best of luck!

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