Tall and Creamy Cheesecake: A Basic

Do you think it’s weird to have cheesecake as breakfast? Maybe not weird but I do find that it is too rich for a breakfast meal.

I had baked the tall and creamy cheesecake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours and it was ready to be consumed in the morning.

I am not proficient in cakes…yet. Lack of experience is one thing but my decorating skill can really be a laughing stock. Nevertheless, there has to be a beginning to learning how to bake and decorate a cake and I chose Dorie’s cheesecake recipe to bake.

Dorie’s recipe provided a step-by-step set of instructions which was really helpful. Of course, it would help visual-learners like me if there are pictures. They still work nonetheless. I was able to follow 90% of the instructions except for the water bath: I did not have a roasting pan. To make up for that, I placed the springform pan on a double layer of baking sheets.

A slice of cheesecake is priced rather high for a reason, I believe. It takes a mighty long time to bake and the ingredients (the cream cheese) are a tad pricier than other desserts. Precision goes into the baking and it gave me a feeling that I was in a laboratory, being mindful of the time each process had to take and tomake sure I had carried out each step correctly. Interesting.

My cheesecake came out all right, not excellent but okay. The crumbs are a bit moist and the interior of the cheesecake, a tad moist too. Perhaps I should have left the cheesecake longer in the oven, say about 10 minutes more. It’s still a good cheesecake nonetheless.

I’m adding more information from this source to put on my site as a depository for myself. Do go to this page and learn and experiment more from Dorie Greenspan’s book! Her recipes are really great!

Notes:

– Large cheesecakes need to bake slowly and, of course, evenly, and a water bath — in which the spring-form pan is placed within a larger pan with about an inch of boiling water — ensures that the heat around the pan will be even and gentle. This method also prevents bottom or side crusts from forming on the cake, so that the only crust is the top. To make sure that the water won’t leak into the pan, wrap the base and the sides of the pan in aluminum foil. The easiest way to do this is to make a cross with two overlapping long pieces of foil, put the pan in the center and lift up the foil. Make sure the foil is higher than the water level.

– Ready-made graham cracker crumbs are available at the store, but you can whir whole crackers around in a food processor to make your own. Or you can put them in a Zip-loc bag and pulverize them with a rolling pin. Don’t worry about the crumbs being uniform.

– Butter the spring-form pan well, and press the crumbs into the pan. Give the bottom a good layer of crumbs and then work your way up the sides of the pan to around the midpoint. You’ll probably have a thinner layer around the sides and it might be raggedy, and that’s fine. A wavy layer around the sides of the cake is pretty.

– Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. If the cream cheese isn’t at room temperature, it’s harder to smooth it during beating and lumps are a cheesecake’s nemesis.

– To unmold the cake from the pan, you can dip the pan into a sink filled with hot water, but that’s messy. The best tool for removing the sides is a hairdryer. Warm the sides of the pan with the dryer and then remove them. Leave the cake on the pan’s base — you’ll serve from it. If the cheesecake has softened a bit from the heat, smooth the sides with a spatula or knife, if necessary, and then pop the cake back into the refrigerator for a little while.

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

Yield 16 servingsAdapted from “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton-Mifflin, 2006)Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
    For the cheesecake:
  • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
Method
  • To make the crust: Butter a 9-inch springform pan — choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter left over) — and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil.
  • Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway point on the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the over. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
  • Center a rack in the over, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  • To make the cheesecake: Put a kettle of water on to boil.
  • Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one by one, beating for 1 full minute after each addition — you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
  • Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
  • Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the rim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  • Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
  • After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster — be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil — and remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  • When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, although overnight is better.
  • At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan — you can use a hairdryer to do this — and set the cake on a serving platter.
  • Serving: The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.
  • Storing: Wrapped well, the cake will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer. It’s best to defrost the still-wrapped cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.

Source: Adapted from “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton-Mifflin, 2006)

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