Creating a beautiful New York Cheesecake that is tall, crack-free, and creamy is easy when you follow our tips and tricks. There are a few things that can go wrong when making a cheesecake, and we will cover a few tips and tricks to avoid a cracked cheesecake.
Your ingredients really need to be at room temperature.
I’m not talking about resting out for just a few minutes. I let my ingredients set out for a minimum of an hour.
Because cream cheese tends to stick to its wrapper, I go ahead and put the cold cream cheese right into my mixing bowl.
I do it mostly because I don’t like fighting with the wrapper later.
A cheesecake can be overcooked and come out dry.
It can also be undercooked and runny in the middle.
Cracks can happen during baking, but most generally occur while cooling.
We will address ways to avoid all of these problems.
First off, the recipe we use has a crust made with vanilla wafer cookies.
Feel free to substitute that with any type of cheesecake crust you prefer.
To make a Brooklyn style cheesecake you will want to use a sponge cake crust.
This is the only type of crust that will need to be baked before adding the cheesecake batter.
The best recipe I have seen for a sponge cake crust was in Welcome to Junior’s Cookbook, it’s a collection of recipes from their Brooklyn restaurant.
This is also the very first New York-style cheesecake recipe I had ever tried.
I didn’t realize at the time there was a difference between New York and Brooklyn cheesecakes. It’s all in the crust.
For a more traditional cheesecake, you will want to use your favorite graham cracker crust.
You could also use our crust recipe from our Cherry Delight post.
This New York cheesecake recipe filling is adapted from King Arthur Flour.
To avoid cracks in your cheesecake, you need to make sure that you do not overbake it.
To avoid overbaking and underbaking, we use 2 different temperatures during the baking process.
The original recipe has never cooked my cheesecake all the way through and has always required additional time and heat.
I suppose you could just start with a higher temperature, but I have always started at 325°F and had to turn up the oven to 350°F for 10 to 20 minutes.
This method has always been successful for me, so I have not tried it at a higher temperature for the whole baking time and would not feel comfortable giving even a guesstimate on the time needed.
You could also just leave it in the oven at 325°F, it is just going to take a lot longer than 10 to 20 minutes.
You will know that the cheesecake is done when a thermometer inserted into the cheesecake between the middle and the sides reads 175°F.
If you choose to test the middle, that temperature should be 150°F.
I do not use a water bath.
Rather, I set a small baking dish full of water on the bottom rack of the oven as I preheat the oven and during the first part of the baking process.
I also allow the oven to heat for about an hour before adding the cheesecake. This gives the oven time to heat the water until it starts to produce some humidity in the oven.
I use sour cream or Greek yogurt in our recipe, but you could substitute that with the same amount of heavy cream.
This recipe uses all-purpose flour, but cornstarch can be used if you need the filling to be gluten-free.
The next issue that can cause cheesecake failure is overmixing.
I know you might be tempted to just beat the heck out of it to get it smooth, but that would be a mistake.
Gentle mixing at a lower speed for a longer time will keep you from beating too much air into the batter.
We aren’t baking a true cake here and extra air is your enemy in this dessert.
Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature before beginning and you won’t need to use high speed at any point.
I never run my stand mixer any higher than 2 while making my cheesecake batter.
If I am using an electric hand mixer I do not go over the second click.
I can take up to 5 minutes to get all of the lumps out of the cream cheese while it is being mixed with the sugar. I have to stop the mixer about every 90 seconds or so to scrape down the sides.
Trust me, the end results are worth all of this.
It is only when the sugar and cream cheese is smooth that I add the flour.
I add the flour one tablespoon at a time and I sprinkle it in while the mixer is running on low speed.
You also need to mix in each egg separately at the same low speed. stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl in between each egg.
Finally, the Greek yogurt and vanilla are added at the same speed but only takes about 15 seconds to incorporate.
Before filling your crust, place the pan onto a baking sheet to catch any butter that melts and oozes out of your springform pan.
This oozing butter is exactly why I do not like to use water baths for my cheesecakes.
These pans are supposed to be a tight seal, but any springform pan I have used is NOT watertight.
I tested my cheesecake twice, you can see the holes in the top, I’m never too worried about the holes in the top since we tend to use a fruit topping or a caramel drizzle.
You can also see there is no water bath, and you can see some butter under the rim of the pan.
When the cheesecake is done I open the oven door to let out some of that heat.
Then I set the door to just being cracked open and I set my kitchen timer for 60 minutes and I walk away.
After an hour, the cheesecake can safely be placed into the refrigerator without cracks forming.
Give the cheesecake at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
I think it tastes best after about 8 hours, but sometimes we just can’t wait that long.
To get clean slices, I find that heating up a large kitchen knife in hot water, then drying it off before slicing works well.
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New York Cheesecake
- Springform Pan
- Cooking Thermometer
- 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs about 9 ounces of cookies
- 2 cups sugar divided
- 6 tablespoons salted butter melted
- 32 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Fill a cake pan or casserole dish about 3/4 full of hot water and place in the lower half of an oven.
- Preheat oven to 325⁰F, leaving the water-filled baking dish in the oven during this time.
- Allow oven to preheat until the water in the pan begins to steam. This may take up to 45 minutes.
- While the oven is preheating, mix together vanilla wafer crumbs, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and melted butter.
- Prepare a springform pan by coating liberally with a non-stick baking spray.
- Place cookie crumb mixture into the bottom of a springform pan and press evenly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan about 1 to 2 inches high.
- Place the cream cheese and remaining sugar into a large bowl and beat on low speed until no lumps remain, stopping every 90 seconds to scrape down the sides of the bowl. It may take up to 5 minutes for the lumps to disappear.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Once all the flour is incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until each egg is incorporated, stopping between eggs to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the Greek yogurt or sour cream and vanilla. Again using low speed, mix until combined.
- Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan.
- Place the cookie sheet and cheesecake into the preheated oven.
- Bake the cheesecake at 325⁰ for 50 minutes.
- Increase the oven temperature to 350⁰F and leave the cheesecake in the oven.
- Continue baking the cheesecake for an additional 10 to 20 minutes or until a thermometer placed halfway between the center of the cheesecake and the sides of the pan reads 175⁰F.
- When the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven and crack the door. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven with the door cracked for at least 60 minutes and up to overnight.
- Once the cheesecake has cooled, remove the outer ring from the springform pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Serve plain, topped with fruit or other sweet sauce.
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