The baked New York style cheesecake recipe, on its surface, looks like one of the more simple dessert recipes. It's a fairly simple set of ingredients, and the mixing and baking is fairly straightforward.
So why does it so often go wrong? Well, part of the problem is in the name: cheesecake. Right there, you expect it to act like a cake in the baking process. The problem is, it's not really a cake at all. If you were to take a hundred cooking school graduates who had never heard of cheesecake and present each of them with a slice of baked New York style cheesecake, all of them would most likely identify it as a pie... or at best a custard.
Let's start with the crust. Cakes don't normally have a crust other than what bakes up when they cook, right? Well, your cheesecake needs a crust or you're going to have containment issues. This is not usually a traditional pie crust, but rather a blind baked mashed-together construction made of graham crackers, cookies or other baked goods.
Then there's the composition of the cheesecake itself. The baked New York style cheesecake begins life as a very thick batter that bears a vague resemblance to traditional cake batter, except for the fact that it contains little or no flour depending on your recipe.
The baking is different, also. One of the secrets to New York style cheesecake success is a fairly moist baking environment, which means using a water bath. Have you ever seen a cake recipe that called for the pan to be placed in a larger pan with water in it?
So, for cheesecake success, you might want to stop thinking about it as a cake. Think of it as a pie-cake hybrid, or better yet as a custard that needs some extra care in the preparation, but will yield sweet rewards when it's done. The baked New York style cheesecake recipe is simple, but can be unforgiving if you don't treat it right.
Andrew Krause is a Chef and Pastry Chef for over 30 years, at present I am retired, I owned a Gourmet Bakery called The Cheese Confectioner. You can visit my site at http://www.andies.cashhosters2.com
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