Why it Works: Low and Slow
Making a cheesecake can be intimidating. When is it done? Why did it crack? Can it be frozen? To understand cheesecake you must first know that it is more of a custard than a cake. Eggs play a key role in its structure. The other ingredients are important of course, but the eggs determine doneness and whether it has a surface crack. Because eggs are easy to overcook, it is important to bake the cheesecake at a low temperature and possibly in a waterbath. For the same reason, cheesecakes should be removed from the oven when they are not completely set (the residual heat will cook them through without overcooking and causing the dreaded crack). And finally, yes, cheesecakes freeze very well.
Did you take the baked cheesecake out of the refrigerator and see a big puddle of liquid on top? The worst-case scenario is that you overbaked the cake. Just like when you overcook scrammbled eggs, the protein in your cake, if overcooked, will squeeze out its water. Or it could be that you refrigerated the cheesecake to soon after puliing it from the oven and the moisture condensed on the cake top. You will know which case you are in when you cut the cake. The overcooked cake will be dry and contain small holes. The other cake will just have a soggy top. If yours was overcooked, there's not much you can do but to serve it with extra sauce and hope people don't notice. In the future, check you oven temperature and make sure it is correct.
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