Cheesecakes are the perfect desserts that anyone wouldn’t miss on the table. Its delicious, soft, creamy, melt-in-the-mouth feeling is excellent to make your mood better after an exhausting day. After all, there are a lot of choices—the famous New York cheesecake, Ricotta (non-cream cheese) cheesecakes, Japanese “Cotton” cheesecake, Vegan, regular cheesecakes, and no-bake cheesecakes.
Knowing how to bake a cheesecake can take you on a great advantage because you have all the control over the ingredients you’re going to use. It also depends on your preference how much amount you’re going to bake, the method you’re going to use, and how many toppings you’ll put on your dessert.
However, due to the dairy content of cheesecakes, even professional bakers get it tricky. Of course, we would want to avoid a too soft and runny undercooked cheesecake or a dry and cracked overcooked one. Knowing the methods of determining a right-baked cheesecake is undoubtedly one skill that can bring you to be a master chef among your group of friends.
Determining a Well-Done Cheesecake
Before tackling various methods on determining a well-done cheesecake, there are several factors that you must first consider before baking—your definition of the word “done.” You see, all of us have parameters in our heads, and it can vary depending on what kind of cheesecake you want to make and the texture you’re aiming for.
Aside from these factors, some cheesecake recipes instruct for a water bath (which you can overcook too) and will require more ingredients that’ll make it harder for the “I’m done!” appearance to be seen from your eyes. Here are some methods that can help you check whether your cheesecake is undercooked or overcooked:
- The Cheesecake Jiggle Test. It’s the traditional way of checking a well-baked cheesecake, and it can be done in multiple ways. Its key point is the jiggles on the center of your cheesecake; this will let you know that it’s perfectly done. The first method is to get a spoon and open the oven door, gently but firmly tap the pan or the cheesecake itself and see if it wobbles. A perfect cheesecake will wiggle slightly, while an undercooked one will ripple noticeably. Another method is to get the pan itself while wearing gloves and give it a gentle shake.
- Pressing with Finger. Using your clean hands, placing your finger in the middle of the cheesecake, and carefully pressing can give you an idea if it’s ready for cooling and serving. A cooked cheesecake is firm to touch, while if there’s a residue left on your finger or it sinks on the cheesecake, then it’s undercooked. Pop it in the oven for another ten minutes until it becomes firm to touch.
- Check its Appearance. Another professional way of determining a well-cooked cheesecake is to look for its appearance. The top of a cheesecake should have a pale ivory color. Otherwise, it can be overcooked. It’s also best to remember that a soft and creamy cheesecake needs to come out from the oven with a pale top. The exterior of the cake shouldn’t be sticky or glossy for you to look at.
- Get Temperature. For beginners and primarily for accuracy, checking the dessert’s temperature is more approved. Looking for jiggles takes a trained baker eye or a keen eye, but you only need a good thermometer for this method. Additionally, cheesecake usually consists of custard which doesn’t show its appearance on the exterior. Now to check for the internal temperature, put the thermometer halfway through the center of the cake. It should be done in temperatures between 150 to 155 °F. The only downside of this method is it can leave your dessert with a hole on top.
- Toothpick Test. Rather than worrying about what a thermometer hole can cause to the cheesecake’s top, you can use a toothpick instead. This is also useful for people who don’t have a cooking thermometer. Evaluation and observation skills for this method are needed. Stick most of it into the cheesecake and wait for a few seconds before pulling it out. If it feels wet and dripping liquid, it’s undercooked, but a too dry one can indicate an overcooked one. You can repeat this method various times so remember to prick on the same hole again.
Make the Undercooked Palatable
If you happen to bake an undercooked cheesecake accidentally, here are some tips to fix it before serving it in front of your loved ones or customers (it can also ease the anxiety):
- Cool. As recipes often indicate, a cheesecake needs to cool down first before serving. It should typically sit in the fridge for 4-5 hours or until a whole night (8 hours). Sometimes, an undercooked cheesecake is missing its cooling time, so it’s better to let it rest and let the fridge handle it.
- Slow Cooking. If your cheesecake still looks undercooked after it has been on the fridge, you can still pop it into the oven. That means it’s time to simmer it with your range in a low temperature until it gets to the right temperature. At best, it shouldn’t take longer than 15-30 minutes, but it is safe to keep watch on your cheesecake every five minutes.
- Water Bath. Some cheesecake recipes involve a water bath in the procedure, but it can also remedy an undercooked cheesecake. To do this, fill a large pan with hot water, where you will place your baking pan wrapped in foil. It lets the cheesecake bake evenly while avoiding cracks.
- Use Creativity. Some mistakes can’t be remedied, and it’s easier to turn them into something else. Try freezing your cheesecake and dip it with chocolate syrup; you can also put toppings on it like a regular cheesecake.
As making a cheesecake can be therapeutic, it can also be the one that leads you to therapy. Knowing its ins and outs before practicing it would save you much time and ingredients (even expenses) beforehand. Keep your research on the background and remember some of these critical points to avoid ruining your scrumptious homemade cheesecake:
- Never use a knife. A knife can cause cracks in the middle of your cheesecake which you may not see as appetizing. It’s also never a recommended tool to determine its doneness because it can’t give an accurate result, especially for a cheesecake with sour cream in its ingredients.
- Mix and handle gently. A gentle hand is a nourishing hand; using it to hold your cheesecake can guarantee its quality. Otherwise, it can be ruined if you test your cheesecake using non-gentle gestures like hitting the pan hard.
- Remove it with care. When transferring a cheesecake from an oven to a fridge, it requires removal, and you need to be gentle with it to avoid cracks and unwanted damages on the cake’s surface. For this, let the cheesecake cool and use a spatula or thin-bladed knife between the cake and pan. (Tip: A nonstick pan can make things easier)
Nobody gets it on the first try, or even on the second one, or the third, but the practice still makes perfect. Mistakes in baking your cheesecake can teach you a lot about the future desserts you’re going to bake. It’s also never too risky to experiment on flavors, dips, and toppings. To accomplish the task of knowing the trickiest part of cheesecake baking, you need to develop patience and perseverance. For a start, you can try watching this video:
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