Hey yall. I love baking cheesecake and I bake them quite often. However, I always have the problem with the top of the cheesecake cracking. I don't think it's over cooked because the middle always looks very wet (thats what usually cracks the worst). Please help me. I am making some for the holidays to sell to my grandmother's friends and I don't think they look professional with cracks.
I saw instructions in a Kraft magazine on how to make the perfect cheesecake. Put a dish of hot water in the oven while you bake the cheesecake. When done, run a knife around the cake and put back in the oven with the door slightly ajar, so the cake can cool down slowly. That should help.
One of the major reasons for cracking is the cheesecake going from the hot oven temperature, to a much colder temperature of either your fridge or your countertops.
To prevent this, once the cheesecake is done (which means it will still be wobbly in the center) turn off the oven (including the oven light) and open the door ajar.. and let it cool off in there for a few hours. After that, it should be room temperature, and you can transfer it to the fridge.
Another way to help solve this problem is the water bath. If you do this, make sure you wrap your pan in tinfoil to avoid leaks. The water bath prevents the edges from getting hotter than the center of the cheesecake, insuring it cooks evenly. It is similar to the trick we use with heating cores and rose nails to insure the middle of a cake gets cooked.
Cracking is caused by a few things. What is your starting oven temp, and how long? Is your starch flour, or cornstarch that will determine final baking temp. When cooling take a knife, and run around the cake to free it as soon as it's done baking. This will allow the the cake to shrink away from the sides. Honestly I don't use a water bath. Never seen a use for one other than to make a mess. Yes, my CC is more of a custard than a cake.
I usually bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees. I think I would make a terrible mess with a water bath (I'm a clutz). It does tend to crack on the sides some as it coold if I do not loosen it (I'm also forgetfull) As for the center cracking like the Grand Canyon, I haven't figured that out.
I also read somewhere you can put pan of water in oven and that helps to, doesn't have to be in water bath itself. I have a website saved at home, some san franciso cake group, they have a lot of tutorials on them and had alot about cheesecake. I am going to make two next week in a 9x 13 instead of springform. They said you just butter the bottom and put parchment paper down. Then when ready to serve, you place pan over hot burner for a couple min, to melt butter and it should pop out, of course place knife around edge. Keeping my fingers crossed. Mine crack alot also, thats why I usually have a topping on it, covers it up. I am even putting whip cream on my pumpkin cheesecake so the crack is covered. But I am going to try leaving in the oven w/ door ajar this next time and see if that helps, it was also on that website recommendation.
Your baking at to hot of a temp. Start at 325, but after a 1/2 hour turn it down to 275. As soon as you think it's done, then loosen the sides. I certainly know about the forgetfullness thing LOLOL