The Water Bath Technique
Disclaimer: I realize this website is promoting the ease of making cheesecakes, and this is a more complicated technique (at least it was for me at first.) You are not expected to use these techniques, you can read the optimal set article for regular baking, and none of us here will judge! (Just read about my first water bath experience).
The Water Bath! (listen to angelic chorus while reading.)
The water bath is one of the BEST things I have discovered for making an amazing cheesecake. You can read about my failures/successes with this technique under the Articles tab; it will make you feel like a master chef. Regardless, I find this method indispensable, and absolutely miraculous. I recommend it for any cheesecaker!
The idea behind the water bath is that the cheesecake cannot get hotter than a certain temperature no matter the temperature of the oven, (around 210 degrees I believe). This allows the whole thing to cook evenly rather than the outside cooking faster than the inside; thus the sunken middle with a non-water bath cheesecake.
1. Prepare your cheesecake. As you preheat the oven, prepare 2 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil, and 1 plastic crock-pot (slow cooker) liner.
2. Carefully wrap a layer of tinfoil around your cheesecake pan, making sure no corners or edges of the tinfoil hang, or are pressed below the intended water line.
3. Set into crock-pot liner.
4. Wrap a second layer of tinfoil around the crock-pot liner, again being careful to make sure neither the liner or second layer of foil have folds or edges that go below the water line.
5. Your oven should be completely heated now. Pour very hot water (carefully) into the larger baking pan you have your cheesecake in. I use a disposable roasting pan, which I have been able to use over and over.
6. Place directly into oven, and set the timer. When it is time to check on the cheesecake, grab the actual cheesecake pan to jiggle. Again, the cheesecake is ready to bring out when the middle is still a little jiggly, but the sides are set. Viola! A beautiful, smooth cheesecake.
Okay, so it has been a little while since I originally wrote this, and I have had failure with the foil-liner-foil technique. It was completely my fault, and I’m sure if I used a new line and new foil each time, it would work perfectly. But I am too frugal for that – I can’t stand throwing away all that foil and a crock pot liner that frankly, aren’t that cheap. I’ve now invested in a 9″ cake pan with 3″ sides:
I still use parchment paper with tabs, and usually the cake pops right out if I turn it upside down AFTER chilling it overnight. I also bought a 9″ silicone cake pan that my 9″ springform pan fits into, but I haven’t tried using that with a water bath yet. I’ll let you know if I do!