Need emergency help with my first cheesecake!

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by mezzaluna, Feb 10, 2001.

  1. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

    Messages:
    9,204
    Likes Received:
    67
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I searched in SOAR for a New York style cheesecake to make for my 'maiden voyage' in to this realm. The first time with something new, I always follow the recipe to the letter. It it still in the oven, and I'm not a happy camper. First, the pastry for the crust fell apart big time. The baking instructions said to bake it at 550 for 20 minutes, the at 200 for one hour. It was quite dark brown at the end of just 15 minutes, and very dark at the end of 20. I turned the heat down as directed and dispair of this success of this venture. After 48 minutes, the filling still jiggles slightly. Should I just leave in the turned-off oven at the end of the hour? Or cool it on a rack, as the directions state? I'm really bummed about this.... (a better word would have been bleeped!!! :mad: ) I am serving it tomorrow, so it will be chilled for almost 24 hours.

    Any advice for the next trial?

    [ 02-10-2001: Message edited by: Mezzaluna ]
     
  2. cape chef

    cape chef

    Messages:
    4,508
    Likes Received:
    32
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Mezz, Sorry to hear that your bummed!! All is not lost. Go buy some strawberrys and slice them in halh lenght wise make a circular pattern on top of the cake (when it is cooled)and cover it with the berries then melt some preserves with a slpash of water and brush the berries with a pastry brush.That should hide any onperfections and it also look's quite nice.As to the recipe you followed I would be a little suspect of blasting a cheese cake at 500 for 15 minutes then cooking at 200. Cheese cakes are pretty delicate and benifit (I believe) in even cooking tempature 350/375. I also leave the oven door open after the cake is done and don't remove it until it is almost completly cooled. Then into the fridge it goes "lightly" wrapped. Mezz, when you cut it tommorrow use a very sharp knife and dip it in warm water before each slice this helps with a clean cut.As far as the crust it sounds like one of two things or a combo of the two. 1)not enough melted butter in the meal or the first blast at 500 dried it out to fast or both. wher you planing on a sweetned sour cream layer on tip?

    Good luck next time and keep the faith
    cc
     
  3. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

    Messages:
    9,204
    Likes Received:
    67
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Crudeau, I'll be serving this to people who love me and support my cooking adventures, so I'm not terribly worried. (also, I stuck my finger in the batter- I know, raw eggs are risky, but I couldn't resist- and it tasted good) Brad, I did leave it in the oven, door ajar- and the top hasn't cracked yet after 1/2 hour. It it's really bad, maybe I'll use some dental floss to shave off the top and give it a berry garnish... I'll let you know how it comes out tomorrow. If the recipe is tasty, I'll find another crust and modify the baking temperature. Thanks for the help and hand-holding!
     
  4. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Man, I'm sorry to hear about your cake. In addition to what cape chef suggested, you can do a layer of choc. ganache on top, instead of berries. That will hide the darkness on top of the cake. 550 is WAY too high. I bake mine in a water bath at 300 (convection), and even that's a little high. All these little tricks that people use, in order to ensure a perfect cheesecake, are totally unnecessary. Bake it at 300. When it puffs up just slightly, and hardly jiggles at all, it is ready. If it cracks, the temp was too high, or it cooked too long. If it didn't crack, it won't crack after it's been baked. Follow cape's advice about the wet knife, or slice it with dental floss, preferably away from your guests.
     
  5. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    By "little tricks", I am referring to drastically changing the temperature of the oven. I have read other recipes like that, and it's totally insane!!
     
  6. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

    Messages:
    9,204
    Likes Received:
    67
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I like the ganache idea. (When is ganache NOT a good idea??! ;) ) I have a bar of Scharffen Barger unsweetened... Would be good, as it's a very deep chocolate flavor. Lots to explore at alastra.com! Thanks for the tip, Crudeau.
     
  7. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    The only time I wouldn't use ganache is with berries. Use one or the other. I have never made ganache with unsweetened, but I assume it'll work out fine. Just add sugar to taste. (Or buy a block of semisweet).

    But berries alone are great too. Maybe if you go that route, you can spread some dark berry preserves on the cake before the berries go on. Just to mask the color. You know.
     
  8. mofo1

    mofo1

    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    10
    turn it into ice cream. :eek:
     
  9. m brown

    m brown

    Messages:
    1,839
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Shorten the baking time at 550 to 10 min. this gives a crust on the top to keep form cracking.
    possible crusts for the bottom, a thin layer of genoise, graham cracker, tart dough, chocolate cake, vanilla wafers, chocolate wafers, cake crumbs or lady fingers.
    cheese cake is hard to screw up because it tasts sooo good no matter how it looks, and remember, if you make a mistake, put a rose on it!!!!
    :cool:
     
  10. m brown

    m brown

    Messages:
    1,839
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    PS, my trade secret, heat the knife over an open flame to hot, not red, and you will get a beautiful cut.(careful with your hands!)
    Use a cheap knife, one that you can stand to use only for cutting cakes in this manner and keep clean between cuts!!
    I use an 11$ serrated knife, 18 years old and still going strong. :eek:
    this method works for mousse cakes, bavarian cakes and other soft hard to cuts!
     
  11. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

    Messages:
    9,204
    Likes Received:
    67
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Maybe you are right about the high heat, m brown, because although the top got dark brown, it never did crack. I did like the flavor of the cake, and will try it again at 350 for the first 20 minutes, as someone here suggested. Do you think a little higher, say 400, would be okay? I don't want to burn the top of the crust again. Also, if I want to add some flavor such as chocolate, fruit, or pumpkin, would I have to tinker much with the recipe to do that? Here's the general description: 2.5 lbs cream cheese, sugar, 5 eggs + 2 yolks, 1/4 cup cream, vanilla, lemon rind, a 3 tbsp. flour. I would think I could make minor adjustments to add the flavorings, rather than start from the bottom up. I'm trying to get a feel for how to make endless variations without feeling too intimidated. Thanks for the help, and for putting up with my fixation on this project! :rolleyes:
     
  12. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    With all respect for the different methods used out there, I have never had a problem with cracking. The only time I have ever had a cheesecake crack is if I leave it in the oven too long. I prefer the top of my cake to be as pale as possible, sothat it looks pretty with fruit on top. At least with my recipe, if I were to start it off any higher than 300, I'd end up with a light brown top.
     
  13. eeyore

    eeyore

    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    11
    Ok here is my 2cents:

    I make cheesecakes every week. 6 at a time. I never have any trouble with cracking.

    I use graham cracker crust in a springform pan--cooked and cooled completely. I wrap bottom of pan in foil and set in water bath. If I need to prevent browning (not always important) I loosely cover with foil. I attach the foil to the water pan not the springform pan...and I dont cover completely so that steam can escape.

    I bake at 200*-250* (convection) for 2 hours or so. The covered cakes will not set, so I uncover them and finish for about 20 minutes. They dont brown.

    I make one big batch of vanilla batter and separate it so as to make different kinds. for example: I mix in finely ground praline or pecan brittle. Or I mix in ganache for chocolate. Or I just piple ganache in a decorative pattern on a vanilla cake before baking. Last week I mixed in melted white chocolate and swirled in raspberry sauce. These all work well -- and I just have to make one batch of batter.

    eeyore
     
  14. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

    Messages:
    9,204
    Likes Received:
    67
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Thanks for the tips, Eeyore. I'd hoped it was that easy to change flavors. And thanks to everyone here for responding with such encouragement; I never learned to make desserts and pastry (with a tiny number of exceptions), so this is all a new world to me. I very much appreciate your patience and help![/LIST]