It takes a bit of practice to manage to make a perfect cheesecake . I have experienced cracked surface, under-baked filling, soggy crust… My all-time failure is water bath. I just don’t seem to be able to get it done without ending with leaking. Extremely frustrating!
So I gave up using water bath. Instead I bake the cheesecake on the centre rack on low heat, with a shallow pan full of hot water on the low rack in the oven. I found it really helpful to maintain the moisture level in the oven, and the cheesecake will come out perfect – my kind of perfect cheesecake, which is dense, rich, velvet and creamy.
I keep an very close eye to the baking process when it’s almost done, making sure the edge of the cheesecake is a little puffy while the centre is still wet and wobbly. This is the right time to turn off the oven, leave the cheesecake in it to finish the cooking and let it cool slowly. This gently cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking.
Ingredients (8-inch cake):
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 packs 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven at 350F. Grease an 8-inch spring form pan.
Make the crust by mixing all the crust ingredients together in a food processor or with a fork.
Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn down oven temperature to 300F.
To prepare filling, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, sour cream and heavy cream on medium speed until smooth in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Then add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Tap the pan on counter a few times to release all the air in the batter.
Position rack in the centre of oven and place cheesecake on it. Place a shallow pan full of water on the lower rack in the oven.
Bake for an hour, or until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet looking.
Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened, let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour.
Chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
To prepare topping, mix sour cream and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread the top of the cake with the sour cream mixture.
Chill in refrigerator before serving.