For some reason the easy cheesecake is something that every aspiring home chef seems to have troubles with at one point or another. There are a lot of secret restaurant recipes that are so difficult to find and many common problems baking these super easy lemon cheesecake recipes, include large slits , darkened top, lumpy filling, collapsed centers and the astonishing shrinking cheesecake (cake shrinks near the outside).
Some of the problems tend to go away when the cheesecake is prepared and cooked properly.
Before you get baking , a little science if you please. Some of the problems discussed above all stem from an improper cooking procedure . That normally is because everyone treat the recipe as if it was for a cake. But the truth is, cheesecake is a lot more similar to a custard pie than it is to a regular cake recipe. So, that means we need to work and cook the ingredients not the same .
Leading off with is the pan. Many people recommend using a spring form pan but I don’t like them. The reason will become apparent when we get into the cooking process. For now locate a 9 inch round cake pan with very high sides (at least 2 inches). We first want to treat the dish so we can get the cooked cheesecake out after . For that, melt a touch of butter and using a brush, coat the whole inside of the dish . Now , using parchment paper, cut out a circle for the backside of the pan and a long rectangle for the side. Once the parchment paper has been added to the pan, we can focus on the crust.
Many people like a cookie crumble crust but I prefer good old graham crackers. I take about two dozen and put them in a plastic zip top bag. With my fingers only, I squeeze them for about 30 secs. to a minute . Some big chunks are ok. Next , melt 1/4 cup of unsalted butter and add the cracker crumbs to it along with one tbs. of sugar. Combine with a spatula briefly and put into the bottom of the dish . Next grab a heavy glass with a flat bottom or different tamping tool (the kind used to flatten beef works supurb ). You want to tamp down all the crumbs in the pan so they stick to each other and help the crust form. Cook the crust blind for Ten mins at 300 degrees.
Next comes the filling. Before you started working on the pan prep , you should have taken the cream cheese out of the fridge and place it on the counter to soften (at least thirty minutes or so). We are also going to need 1.25 cups of sourcream , one cup of sugar, one third cup of cream (whipping or heavy), 1 table spoon of vanilla, five large eggs, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, the zest of one lemon, and one tablespoon of cornstarch (optional).
Next , the mixing of the batter is important. We want everything combined well but we don’t want to add any air into the batter. Air is commonly the problem when a cheesecake falls or has a sunken center. So, the best tool in my ruling is the Kitchenaid stand mixer (or your favorite brand).
To begin , place the sour cream in the mixing bowl and using the paddle attachment, beat on medium low for a minute. Next add the cream cheese , the sugar and the optional cornstarch. The cornstarch acts to help slow down the binding of the eggs in the custard which helps prevent cracking. Think of it as a little extra insurance. If you follow this recipe you should not need it but if this is your first time trying this recipe, consider adding it.
So, now we beat this combine on low speed for 1 minute. Then turn up the speed to medium for a few more minutes. Stop the machine and scrape the bowl. Next, in a container mix the 1/3 cup of cream, vanilla, two large eggs, 3 egg yolks, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix this up well with a fork.
Turn the mixer on medium low speed and slowly drizzle in 1/2 of the cream and egg mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl again. Start it again but this time on medium high speed and add the remaining egg mixture. Continue mixing for about 1 more minute. The batter should be uniform (no lumps) and not airy.
Next , the cooking . Pre heat the oven to two hundred fifty degrees. recall when you cooked the crust blind. Well, we want to add the batter to the pan but first make sure the crust is completely cool (let it cool out of the oven for at least 15 minutes). Add the batter to the pan. Give the pan a few little twists left and right to help any air bubbles come to the top.
At the same time, boil at least two quarts of water (the amount will depend on your pan size). We need to create what’s called a “bain marie” (Marie’s bath). If you have another cake pan that is a few inches bigger in diam use that. If not, a throw away aluminum baking dish works well too (the kind for lasagna or roasting). Add a clean towel to the bottom of the large pan and insert into the oven. Add the cheesecake pan into the larger pan and gently push it aside . Next , with kid gloves add the simmering water into the larger pan. Pour enough to come up two thirds the way up the cheese cake pan.
Next , gently , center the cheesecake pan in the larger pan and close the oven. Bake at 250 for an hour. Here’s the hard part. After an hour the cake will not looked cooked. But the problem is we don’t want to over cook the cheese cake . So, open the oven door for about 30 secs. to let some heat escape. Next , close the door and leave the cake alone for one hour. After that, carefully take the cake pan out of the water pan and place into a fridge for six hours.
Finally we have cheesecake. There are some minor tumbling necessary to get the cake out of the pan. First, fill your sink half way up with hot water right from the tap (the hottest it will go). Next , let the pan float in the sink for fifteen seconds . Next take it out and place it on a towel. Using a sharp thin knife carefully trace around the outside of the pan and then carefully take out the parchment from the side of the pan. Next , take some wax paper and cut a circle the same size as the cheese cake . Put the wax paper on top of the cheesecake. Place a round plate or the bottom from a spring form pan on top of the cheesecake and carefully but quickly invert it. Now remove the pan.
Ok, but now you are looking at the under side of the cheese cake . Take the parchment from the bottom. Decide what dish you will use to serve the cheesecake (or choose a nice size bakers cake round). Place that on the bottom of the cheese cake and once again invert it carefully . Lastly, remove the wax paper from the top and slice your cheesecake .
If all went well we should have a delicious and beautiful lemony cheesecake that your friends and family will think you purchased . And you know what, if the top does crack, who cares. That’s why they fabricated whipped cream! Right?
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