Over the years, the Chatelaine Kitchen has tested hundreds of cheesecakes. Our top tip for creamy, crack-free results? Bake in a water bath, always wrap the pan in foil so none of the water leaks in, and as soon as it’s out of the oven, run a knife around the inside of the pan.
Why do I need a water bath?
Some cheesecake recipes don’t call for a water bath, but we prefer this method. The water bath (also known as a bain marie) is used to regulate the baking temperature of the cheesecake. Since the temperature of water never exceeds boiling point (it turns into steam), it keeps the cheesecake baking at an even, slow temperature. This prevents the cheesecake from overcooking (especially around the edges). The steam created by the water bath also further protects the baking cheesecake, keeping the air in the oven moist and humid to prevent the top of the cake from drying out and cracking.
How do I ensure a tight seal with my foil so water doesn’t leak in?
Make sure you use a large, square sheet of heavy-duty foil. You can purchase heavy duty foil at the grocery store. If you only have regular foil at home, follow these instructions to make a tightly-sealed foil wrap around your springform pan.
Take two large pieces of foil and stack one on top of the other.
Fold a two cm pleat along the bottom edge of stacked foil.
Repeat and fold two more pleats to ensure a tight seal.
Open foil into a large square. Place your springform pan in the centre.
Wrap the edge of your springform pan with foil. Repeat with another sheet of foil.
Can I let my cheesecake sit until it’s cooled before running a knife around the edges?
For best results, run a long, thin knife around the edges of your cheesecake as soon as you remove the cheesecake from the oven. As a cheesecake cools, it may start to sink a little bit. If the edges are still attached to the pan, the cheesecake will start to pull itself away from the edges, causing potential cracks. Once the cheesecake has cooled completely, you can easily remove the ring around the springform pan.
Try these great tips with one of our four delicious cheesecakes: