So I often hear people wondering why their cheesecake cracked. Has this ever happened to you? You make this amazing looking cheesecake only to open the oven and see a huge crack right down the center. Or worse, it looks great out of the oven, but then a crack shows up when it cools. Well, I’ll share a couple of secret cheesecake tips that I learned a few years ago.
- First, make sure to bake your cheesecake in a water bath. I simply wrap aluminum foil around the bottom of my springform pan. Then I set this pan in a cookie sheet in the oven. Then I quickly fill the cookie sheet with boiling water and shut the door. (A teapot with a long spout is a great tool for this job.)
- Don’t open the oven to peak at your cheesecake every 5 minutes. The water you poured into the baking sheet evaporates and creates a very humid environment in the oven. You want to keep that humidity in the oven. Every time you open the oven, that moisture escapes.
- Bake the cheesecake until most of it is firm. Try to leave a small circle (maybe 1″ in diameter) in the middle of the cake where the batter is less firm. When you remove the cake from the oven, it will continue to bake for a bit longer, and if the cake gets overbaked, then cracks are sure to show up.
- And finally, I like to make my cheesecakes the day before and then freeze them overnight. Once I pull the pan out of the oven, I let it cool for a few minutes and then wrap it fully (pan and all) in plastic wrap. (Basically, wrap it as soon as it isn’t too hot to touch!) Then put the whole thing in the freezer overnight. The next day, you can easily pop open the springform pan and remove the hard cheesecake. It’s easy to handle the cheesecake and transfer to a serving plate when it’s frozen, too. (Just allow yourself an extra couple of hours to let the cheesecake thaw in the refrigerator before serving!
- 3.5 ounces (~6.5 whole crackers) graham crackers
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 20 ounces (2.5 blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tsp King Arthur all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1.5 ounces tequila
- pinch of salt
- zest of 1/2 lime
- juice of 1/2 lime
- Lightly grease the inside of springform pans.
- Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely crumbled and no large pieces remain.
- In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and light brown sugar. Stir until fully mixed.
- Press crust mixture evenly into the bottom of each pan. Set pans aside.
- In a countertop mixer with the paddle attached, cream the cream cheese on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and continue mixing on medium speed for another 2 minutes. Scrape the inside of the bowl to make sure mixture is fully mixed.
- Add flour and mix for another minute on medium speed.
- Add eggs and additional yolk one at a time, mixing on low speed between each addition for ~30 seconds, or until each addition is fully absorbed.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Take care to not overmix the batter!
- Add the tequila, salt, lime zest, and lime juice and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Gently tap the pan to release any air bubbles
- Bake in a hot water bath at 325 degrees until the centers of the cakes are just barely set. The mini cheesecakes should take about 37-40 minutes to bake, and the 5″ cakes about 50 minutes. Do not open the oven in the first 30 minutes!
- Cool the cakes completely in the pans. Wrap each cake, in the pan, in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze overnight.
This recipe should be doubled if using a 9″ springform pan.