When I look at the old cheesecake recipes in the blog’s archive, I almost want to hide under the bed. Sure, they tasted good. But, back then — before I started selling cheesecakes and baking more than twice a week — my cheesecakes were rarely consistent. Just another reminder that practice makes perfect.
What have I learned since?
1. Baking cheesecakes at a temperature higher than 300F will make the sides rise faster and the center sink. The too-high temperature can also result in over-browned sides.
2. The cheesecake should be taken out of the oven while the center is still jiggly. The cheesecake is dense and, after it is out of the oven, it will still continue cooking until the center is firmly set. If the cheesecake is left in the oven for too long (or if the temperature is too high), the center is likely to crack.
3. Crushed Graham cracker cheesecake crust is the least exciting thing for the bottom layer of a cheesecake. A shortbread crust is the way to go for me. I garnish the crust with things like nuts, lemon zest or chocolate morsels, the choice of garnish depending on the flavor of the cheesecake layer.
4. Cheesecake recipes almost always call for 500 grams of cream cheese. Is that measurement a must? No, it isn’t. Cheesecake pans come in different sizes and the 500 grams of cream cheese is usually meant for a nine-inch or a 10-inch pan.
That said, here is the basic cheesecake recipe. Note that what you see in the photo is an eight-inch cheesecake with lemon-kalamansi custard topping. Top your cheesecake with anything you like.
Basic 10-inch cheesecake recipe
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Wrap a 10-inch (nine-inch is okay too) cheesecake pan with two layers of aluminum foil. Lightly spray the bottom and sides with oil. If you don't have oil in aerosol can, use a brush to oil the pan.
- In a bowl, whisk together the quarter cup of sugar, flour and quarter teaspoon of salt. Add the cold butter. Rub the butter against the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Press the mixture evenly on the bottom of the cheesecake pan.
- Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.
- Remove the pan from the oven and rest on a wire rack to cool.
- Turn down the oven temperature to 300F.
- Start boiling water in a kettle.
- Place the cream cheese in the mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at MEDIUM speed until light and soft, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently.
- Add the three-quarter cup of sugar and teaspoonful of salt. Beat at MEDIUM speed for another minute.
- Turn the mixer to LOW (because you do not want air bubbles to form). With the motor running, add one whole egg to the cream cheese. Wait until the egg has been fully incorporated before adding the next, and so on. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl before adding each egg.
- Fold in the cream.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the baked crust.
- Prepare the water bath (baine marie). Place the cheesecake pan in a larger pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan until the water reaches halfway up the cheesecake pan.
- Bake at 300F for two-and-a-half to three hours or until firm but still jiggly at the center.
- Peel off the aluminum foil. This will prevent condensation between the foil and the bottom of the pan which can make the crust soggy.
- Place the cheesecake pan on a rack and cool the cake to room temperature.
- Run a butter knife around the cheesecake. This will make releasing the cake from the pan later much easier.
- Wrap the pan with aluminum foil or cling wrap and chill the cheesecake for several hours, preferably overnight.
- Unwrap the cheesecake pan.
- Gently release the cake from the pan.
- Slice and serve.
Basic eight-inch cheesecake recipe
- Make the crust using the recipe for the 10-inch cheesecake. Weigh the crust mixture and use only 3/4 of the total amount. You can freeze the remainder. It will last for weeks.
- Follow the same procedure for the 10-inch cake but use an eight-inch (or a seven-inch) cheesecake pan and reduce the second phase of the baking by 30 minutes.
Basic six-inch cheesecake recipe
- Make the crust following the procedure for the 10-inch cheesecake crust above. Reduce the baking time by 10 minutes.
- Follow the same procedure for the 10-inch cake but use a six-inch cheesecake pan and reduce the second phase of the baking by one hour.