6 Important Rules for Baking Cheesecake

April 15, 2013

A few simple rules for baking stellar cheesecake, plus a few luscious recipes to try.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Vanilla cheesecake is a blank canvas for incorporating luscious, even unorthodox details. Substitute ricotta for cream cheese, swap a rich almond crust for standard Graham crackers, infuse the filling with exotic spices, and your plain old cheesecake is suddenly avant-garde.

You can read volumes on perfecting cheesecake and follow complicated directions ranging from slow-baking at irrationally low oven temperatures to incorporating eggs by a precise method, but really a few simple rules will suffice:

  • Place the springform pan on a baking sheet as fillings can leak while baking.
  • Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven while baking the cheesecake. Steam helps the cheesecake stay moist and helps keep the top from cracking.
  • To avoid overbaking, always check cheesecakes 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.
  • Remove cheesecakes from the oven while slightly “jiggly” in the center. This ensures they’ll be creamy.
  • If the top cracks, pile on fruit and carry on.
  • Use a thin-bladed knife to cut the cheesecake. Dip it in hot water before slicing.

—By Gretchen Roberts. Winter 2006 supplement


Italian Cheesecake

Light and creamy, this cheesecake gets a boost from ricotta.

Asian Cheesecake

Asian Cheesecake

Coconut and mango take you to Southeast Asia in this not-too-sweet cheesecake.

Indian Cheesecake

Indian Cheesecake

The fragrant aroma of Chai fills the kitchen as this rich, spiced cheesecake bakes.

French Cheesecake

French Cheesecake

Cambembert cheese is the secret ingredient in this dense, flavorful cheesecake.


Cheesecake in a Jar

Serve these simple, mousse-like cheesecakes in small canning jars for an adorable dessert.

Honey Cheesecake

Honey Cheesecake

Winnie the Pooh's favorite food is the star ingredient in a cool, creamy cheesecake.


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