How to make the perfect cheesecake

Thought to be a quick and easy task, cheesecake often needs refrigerating time to solidify and stabilize; humidity is key requiring carful monitoring to prevent the cake from cracking

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Everyone has a fail-safe cheesecake recipe but how do you make the perfect cheesecake? In honor of the holiday, we've prepared everything you need to know about cheesecakes.
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עוגת גבינה
עוגת גבינה
(Photo: Yaron Brenner)

Not a spontaneous affair

Baking a cheesecake isn't that complicated. Usually, you don't need to separate eggs or whip them, and it's simply a mixture of cheese, eggs, and flour or cornflour, spread on a crust of dough or a crumbled cookie bottom. However, there are a few rules along the way.
First, cheesecakes are not for the spontaneous, there are hardly any cheesecakes that can be made within an hour. Usually, cheesecakes need to be refrigerated for at least four hours before consuming and it's best to refrigerate the cake overnight as proper cooling allows the cheesecake to solidify and stabilize.
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עוגת גבינה לחמים
עוגת גבינה לחמים
(Photo: Daniel Laila)
Second, like in any baking recipe, precision is key. Baking is an exact science, and only experienced bakers can make changes and substitutions and still succeed so one should use a scale.

The Pan

To successfully slice beautiful triangles, you should use a circular pan. Since cheese contains a high percentage of water, secure the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil. You can also bake a cheesecake in any other pan, but then cutting the cake will be less convenient, and the portions will be less aesthetic.
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(Photo: Moran Gil)
If you have a ring, you can use it, but it's mandatory to attach aluminum baking paper to the bottom and then secure aluminum foil on top of it. If you come across a recipe that requires baking a cheesecake in a water bath (see explanation below), it means that the cake should be baked in a sealed mold, inside a larger sealed mold - and if you don't have a sealed mold - you should secure the top mold with two layers of aluminum foil.

The Base of the cake

There are recipes with a sophisticated dough crust and then there are recipes with an easy solution that doesn't require pre-baking. This would mean crumbling biscuits and mixing them with melted butter and sugar. Instead of biscuits, you can crush any cookie you prefer such as butter cookies, lemon cookies, or even Oreos, and you can also add chopped nuts. It's recommended to freeze the crust in the freezer for 20-10 minutes before the next step, to stabilize it.

To strain or not to strain?

Cream cheeses contain a high percentage of water, so sometimes it's recommended to strain the cheese before mixing it with the other ingredients. The more water in the cake, the longer it needs to bake, as the water evaporates during baking. When you strain cheese, the fat percentage increases, and the cake becomes more stable cake which takes less time to bake.
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(Photo: Yaron Brenner)
How do you know how much to strain? It's a matter of experience. If you've decided to strain, then pay attention to the material you use. How do you strain? Place a strainer over a bowl, so that the strainer doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Place a cheesecloth over the strainer, into which you pour the cheese. After half an hour, you will see a little cloudy liquid at the bottom of the bowl (5 tablespoons of water per kilogram of cheese).
When releasing the cheese from the cheesecloth remember: the longer the cheese sits, the firmer it becomes, and it's easier to remove it in one piece. Using a spoon, transfer the remaining cheese on the cheesecloth to the bowl. Rinse the cheesecloth well and hang it to dry.

What to do with the eggs?

Shavuot is a holiday that requires many eggs. Typically, baked cheesecakes contain 5-6 eggs, but there are different sizes for eggs. When egg number one weighs 65 grams, egg number two weighs 55-60 grams, and you need to calculate and convert eggs accurately either by weighing the eggs in a bowl or using digital scales.
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עוגת גבינה טבעונית
עוגת גבינה טבעונית
Vegan cheesecake
(Photo: Shutterstock)
If you need half an egg, split it after you beat it. It is recommended to break eggs one by one into a small bowl and not directly into the main bowl with other ingredients, so if one egg is damaged, it will be easier to deal with.

Humidity is key

Using a water tub for the cake's humidity maintains its uniformity. It acts as a moderator, similar to how high humidity at the beach moderates heat. Without a water tub, you need to monitor the cake carefully. Using water prevents the cake from cracking and you can always place a heat-resistant dish with water at the bottom of the oven

Newspaper in the recipe?

Some recipes suggest wrapping the sides of the pan with a damp newspaper. Why damp? So the newspaper doesn't burn in the oven. This is for the cake's sides to rise evenly, which may not happen if you bake a cheesecake in a water bath.

Ideal Temperature

The combination of a high percentage of water in the cheese with heat causes the cake to rise. As it cools, it collapses. To achieve a crispy crust on top and a creamy texture inside, it is recommended to start with a high temperature and gradually decrease it after ten minutes.
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ניר צוק - עוגת גבינה
ניר צוק - עוגת גבינה
(Photo Afik Gabay)
It is advisable to start baking at 200 degrees, then reduce to 160 degrees, and finally to 120 degrees, depending on the strength setting of the oven. Particularly for cheesecakes, it is not recommended to use the strongest setting as the air disturbs the cake and prevents the crust from forming properly.

Removing from the pan

Many recipes recommend starting baking at a high temperature (220 degrees, for example), taking the pan out of the oven after ten minutes, and running a wet knife around the edges so the cake doesn't stick to the pan's sides. Then return to the oven and continue baking at a lower temperature, 170-160 degrees.
What is that for? When we separate the cake from the pan, we allow the evaporated water in the cake, to escape. That way, the air exits from where we choose it, rather than surprising us with cracks on the top. Releasing the cake from the sides also allows it to rise and prevents it from collapsing.

Are you allowed to open the oven during baking?

Many argue that you should not open the oven during the first 15 or 30 minutes of baking a cheesecake, as it may affect its stability. On the other hand, some claim that occasionally opening the oven door will release some heat from the oven and benefit the cake. Additionally, others suggest slightly opening the oven door at the end of baking can better prepare the cake.
However, experts explain that it all depends on the type of cake being baked: for heavy New York-style cheesecakes, there is no danger, as the cake is baked at low heat and there is no risk of collapse. For dense cheesecakes, it depends on the type of oven.
7 View gallery
(Photo: Yaron Brenner)

In household ovens, it is not recommended to open the oven during baking, as the oven's heat will drop, and until the temperature stabilizes again, the cake may collapse. In professional/strong ovens, there is no real danger as long as the oven door is not opened for too long.

How do you know when it's ready?

When the top of the cake is golden enough the cake looks stable overall. You can insert a toothpick into the center of the cake; if it comes out wet, the cake needs more time. If it comes out almost dry, or with small crumbs, the cake is ready.
If you suddenly remove the cake from the oven's heat to room temperature, the cake may collapse, especially if it lacks cornflour. To prevent the cake from collapsing when taken out of the oven, ensure that the cake has enough thickeners. Be careful not to use an excessive amount of cornflour to avoid leaving a too strong taste in the cake.
Baked cheesecake can be decorated with a topping of sour cream and garnished with chocolate curls, dark and white chocolate shavings, chopped and sugared hazelnuts, dried hibiscus flowers, or fresh fruits: kiwi slices, strawberries, or fresh pineapple.

Baked cheesecake recipe

By Orna and Ella
This is a very easy and quick cake to prepare, the kind of cake you enjoy smoothing with a spoon. Keep in mind that it needs to chill for at least four hours before serving.

Ingredients (for a 26 cm circular pan):

For the base: 2/3 cup (170 g) "Petit Beurre" biscuits, finely crushed in a food processor 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar 100 g melted butter
For the filling: 3 tubs (750 g) 9% fat cottage cheese, preferably strained 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup (180 g) sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 6 smaller eggs,
For the topping: 2 cups (400 ml) sour cream 2 tablespoons sugar 2 sachets (20 g) vanilla sugar


1. Mix the biscuits with sugar and butter. Grease the pan with melted butter and press the crumbs well into the bottom. Store in the freezer for 20 minutes or more.
2. Place cottage cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat using an electric whisker. Add the eggs, one by one (it is recommended to break them into the bowl first), and mix until smooth.
3. Preheat the oven to medium-low heat (150 degrees Celsius). Pour the cheese mixture over the base. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cake is set but still slightly soft in the center, slightly puffed at the edges, and does not appear fully baked (you should rotate the pan in the oven after half an hour of baking since most ovens do not bake evenly). Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
4. Topping: Mix sour cream, sugar, and vanilla sugar in a bowl. Gently spread over the cake, starting from the edges towards the center, using a spoon. Since the cake is very soft, the cream should be spread gently to prevent sinking in the center. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. The cake can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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