03/10/2015 07:55 am ET

How To Make A Cheesecake That Doesn't Crack

Rich, creamy and decadent, cheesecake is one of the most luxurious desserts we know. Just because it's fit for the most special occasions, however, doesn't mean it's difficult to make. Cheesecake is actually a lot easier to make than you might think. The tricky part is avoiding one that ends up with cracks running through it.

Cracks might go unnoticed in a cheesecake if it has a lot of toppings, but they're a common annoyance that occurs all too often when making this beloved dessert. Some people don't mind them, but for those who want a perfectly crack-less cake, we feel you, and this is why we're here to help you through your struggles.

The two common causes for cracks are excess air and drastic changes in temperature. If you take a couple precautionary measures, you can avoid these mishaps and say so long to pesky cracks for good. Here are five ways to make a perfectly crack-less cheesecake:

  • 1 Start With All Ingredients At Room Temperature
    Michael Paul via Getty Images
    To ensure no cracks in your cheesecake, the first step is ensuring that all ingredients start at room temperature. You want to make sure that temperature changes are subtle, not dramatic, so you shouldn't start with freezing cold ingredients that will then go into the hot oven. Whatever ingredients you're using -- eggs, cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream, butter -- remove them from the refrigerator with ample time for them to come to room temperature before you start cooking.
  • 2 To Avoid Unnecessary Air, Don't Over-Mix
    Tetra Images via Getty
    Over-mixing can cause air bubbles, which are a major cause of cracks in cheesecake. As food blog Sally's Baking Addiction explains, once you add your eggs, you want to mix as little as possible because eggs "hold air inside the batter, which could rise up and cause cracks." Whatever you're baking, it's easy to over-mix when you use an electric mixer, so try doing it by hand. If you can't achieve the smooth consistency you need without your electric mixer, just be wary that you don't overdo it.
  • 3 Let Your Cake Cool Down Slowly
    Fuse via Getty Images
    You know that feeling when you get out of a steaming hot shower and face the shock of the cold air of your bathroom? That's what your poor cheesecake is feeling when you remove it from the oven immediately after it's done baking. Instead of taking the cake out of the oven, turn the oven off and crack the door slightly. Let your cheesecake cool down inside the oven. Allowing its temperature to decrease gradually along with the temperature in the oven will guard against cracks -- and make for a much happier cheesecake. To be safe, look for recipes that call for this cooling technique, like Martha Stewart's New York-Style Cheesecake. Or, cook for a slightly shorter amount of time than you otherwise would have. Regardless, the slower cooling technique should not overcook the cake.
  • 4 Don't Overcook It
    This seems obvious, but if you need more motivation to make sure you keep your eye on your baking cheesecake, remember that cracks will form if you overcook it. If you're worried that your cheesecake has a custardy texture when you remove it from the oven, have no fear. After it sets in the refrigerator, your cake will achieve the correct consistency. Leaving it in the oven too long is not the answer!
  • 5 Try A Water Bath
    Sally's Baking Addiction
    One of the most foolproof ways to avoid cracks is to bake cheesecake in a water bath. The water helps maintain a gentle temperature change, and the steam also ensures even cooking and keeps the cake from getting too dry. It may sound cumbersome, but a water bath simply requires setting your cheesecake dish in a larger pan that has been filled with an inch or so of water. It's exactly what it sounds like, and it's well worth the minimal extra effort.

    You can gleam two pro tips from the photo above, which comes from Sally's Baking Addiction. One, you can wrap the cheesecake pan with foil to avoid water getting inside. Two, you can add water into the pan after you rest it and your cheesecake in the oven. Maneuvering a pan of water is difficult, and this tip eliminates that step altogether.

If you still see cracks after taking all of these precautionary measures, don't fret. You get to eat cheesecake now. No matter what it looks like, it'll still be delicious. Plus, it's a great excuse to try again.

Main image from Brown Eyed Baker

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