(c) A Marcy Goldman, BetterBaking.Com Original Recipe
We love our cheesecake...
Use the best ingredients you can find. The cake can be made with ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and tofu with remarkable results. However, the classic texture relies on pure fluffy cream cheese. Look for fresh, chemical-free cream cheese. Avoid products which appear "gluey" or compressed. Eggs, unless otherwise specified, should be size large. Extra-large eggs might offset the balance of the recipe. White sugar is called for but additions of honey and/or brown sugar can do wondrous things for a maple or pumpkin cheesecake. Sugar content can be adjusted to taste without compromising the final product. Additions of sour cream, whipping cream, preserves, nuts and liqueurs fall under this category as well.
Cheesecake or "spring-form" pans allow the chilled cake to be properly un-molded. A good choice is the American-made Hillside spring-form pan. It has particularly high sides for secure baking. Pans made of tin tend to bend more easily and are less durable overall. If you have this sort of pan, make sure you clean and dry it very well after use and take care as to handle the clip mechanism carefully. Logic dictates that a greased pan helps when the time comes to un-mold the cake. Experience tells me that the cake rises higher if you allow the delicate batter to cling to un-greased sides.
All ingredients should be at room temperature. This allows for the proper incorporation of the eggs and will ultimately result in the best texture and volume. Properly creaming the cheese with the sugar and eggs is another must. Be sure not to under-cream the cheese. Make sure it is smooth and pliant. Add eggs one by one until thoroughly blended. The batter should be as homogenous as possible. Do not be alarmed if it seems too liquid. An electric mixer is essential. Food processors and blenders just don't perform as well in this case. Resist the temptation to mix on the highest speed. This prevents too much air from being incorporated into the batter.
There are three methods to avoid cracks in cheesecakes. The first method involves gradually cooling the cake. Oven heat is turned off and the cake "rests" in the closed oven for an hour. Then it either further at room temperature or is placed in a refrigerator. The second method involves refrigerating the baked cake immediately. Many bakers suggest this is heresy but it works. The third method is to bake the cheesecake in a water bath. Cover the outside of the pan twice over with a wrapper of aluminum foil to protect it against any possible leaks. Fill a large, shallow roasting pan with water. Place filled cake pan in the water bath to about 2/3 height of sides.
Regardless of baking technique, a cake should be refrigerated for a minimum of 12 hours (ideally 24 hours) before it is decorated. Aside from canned fruit fillings, you can opt for fresh fruit toppings, nut-crunch topping, a dark chocolate glaze and more. Grand desserts take grand finales, and professional bakers will always find the time and imagination to remember the light dusting of ground nuts or chocolate shavings or to furnish a lace decoration.
Cutting should be performed carefully. You may cut with a long (un-serrated) knife dipped first in hot water and cleaned before each cut. You may also cut the cake using (un-waxed) dental floss held tautly across the cake. Cuts are made by simply lowering the dental floss through the cake and pulling away the cord, much like using a wire to cut through potter's clay. Either method yields perfect cake portions. Most cheesecakes freeze very well unless they are topped with fresh fruit.
© This is a Marcy Goldman/BetterBaking.com original recipe
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