How to make crack-free cheesecakes

Dear Baker:
Every time I bake a cheesecake it cracks. Is there something I can do to prevent this? It will crack slightly during baking, but while cooling it cracks in every which way. Please help! --iVillager cheesecakes101


Dear cheesecakes101:
Cheesecakes crack because they are over-baked or because of the rapid differences in temperature. When a cheesecake is done, the dessert should be wobbly in the center and will firm up when refrigerated.

I have had great success baking my cheesecakes in a water bath. This provides for a gentle and constant temperature. Make sure that you take it out of the bath when the cheesecake is done.

To prepare for a water bath, wrap the outside of the pan with foil before putting in the batter. Make sure it's airtight. Pull out the middle shelf of your oven, place a large roasting pan on it, and place a folded terry cloth towel inside the pan. Next, put the cheesecake pan, filled with batter, into the roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with very hot water up to 2/3 of the way up the side of the cheesecake pan. Bake the cheesecake until done, and then immediately remove it from the roasting pan.

When a cheesecake comes out of the oven, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. When it cools, it won't pull from the pan and create more cracks.

When I have company coming, I usually prepare a fruit topped cheesecake. That way, if it cracks, no one will see it!

Sarah Phillips is the author of Healthy Oven Baking Book.

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