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Secrets for Successful Cheesecake

Measure ingredients accurately, using the measuring tools and techniques suggested.

Before preheating the oven, arrange the oven racks so that the cheesecake will bake in the center of the oven.

Preheat oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Grease the bottom and sides of the springform pan to help prevent the filling from cracking when the cheesecake cools. It will naturally pull away from the sides.

For best results, we recommend using regular cream cheese and sour cream, unless a recipe specifically calls for reduced-fat or fat-free products.

To avoid lumps, always soften cream cheese at room temperature for about 30 minutes before mixing. If the cream cheese is not softened before mixing, the cream cheese won't be smoothed after blending.

Make sure the batter is completely smooth and free of lumps before adding eggs. Add the eggs all at once and beat on low speed just until blended. Avoid overbeating at this step. If too much air is beaten into the mixture, the cheesecake will puff during baking, then collapse and split when cooled.

Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape the batter down from the sides of the bowl.

For best results, the spring form pan should not be warped and should seal tightly. If in doubt about the tightness of the seal, tightly wrap heavy-duty foil around the outside of the pan to prevent butter in the crust from leaking. Place on a baking sheet.

Open the oven door as little as possible while baking the cheesecake, especially during the first 30 minutes. Drafts can cause a cheesecake to crack.

Use a kitchen timer. Check for doneness at the minimum recommended baking time. A cheesecake is done when the edges are slightly puffed and when the center (about 1 in. in diameter) jiggles slightly when the side of the pan is tapped with a spoon. The retained heat will continue to cook the center while the cheesecake is cooling. A cheesecake cooked in a water bath will be just set across the top. The top will look dull, not shiny. Don't use a knife to test for doneness...doing so will cause the top to crack.

Cool the cheesecake for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around the inside edge to loosen from the spring form pan. Don't remove the sides of the pan yet.

Allowing cheesecake to set will make it easier to cut. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack in a draft-free location for 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 3 to 4 hours. When the cheesecake is cold, cover it with a piece of foil or plastic wrap across the top of the pan and refrigerate for at least 6 hour or overnight.

When ready to serve, loosen the latch of the spring form and carefully lift the rim of the pan straight up. Slice the cheesecake while it's cold. For maximum flavor, let slices stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Use a straight-edge knife to cut a cheesecake. Warm the blade in hot water, dry and slice. Clean and rewarm the knife the after each cut.

 
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