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left: electric oven, right: refrigerator

3 Easy-As-Pie Ways To Bake (Or Not Bake) Cheesecake

Here’s a misconception about cheesecake recipes: you might think that because of its delicately light, creamy, and sometimes fluffy texture, making it will be equally as challenging. The truth is, although baking cheesecakes can get quite technical, once you understand how different methods affect the final product, it’s actually very straightforward.

There is more than one way to make a cheesecake: you can make it with gelatin and go the no-bake route, or you can bake it – with or without a water bath. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of these cheesecake baking methods, let’s talk about what makes a cheesecake.

What Are Cheesecakes?

Cheesecakes – the ones that are made with crusts – are actually classified as pies! They have a crust (which could be made your choice of crushed cookies or even pastry) and what is essentially a custard-type filling when baked: it is a batter that is primarily made with eggs, sugar, cream, and cream cheese. Just like pies, cheesecakes can also be made without baking; the filling is set with a mix of heavy cream and gelatin.

How to Choose the Right Cheesecake Recipe for You

1 Check your equipment.

The first thing you need to consider when you want to make a cheesecake is what equipment you have in your kitchen. For baked cheesecakes, you will need an oven. Gas or electric ovens, as opposed to air fryers or convection ovens, are the best equipment to bake cheesecakes in as they are able to maintain a steady and gentle temperature for your cheesecake to bake in (more on this later).

Meanwhile, for no-bake cheesecakes, you will need a refrigerator. Since no-bake cheesecakes are set with gelatin, which sets faster at colder temperatures, having a refrigerator is necessary to make a no-bake cheesecake. Plus, room temperature no-bake cheesecakes just don’t quite taste as good!

Important Note: Freezers are helpful for setting no-bake cheesecake crusts fast and ensure you have a stable base to pour your cheesecake mixture in, but refrigerators can do the job just as well (it will just take a longer time). However, excited as you might be to have your cheesecake set fast, it is not a good idea to freeze your no-bake cheesecake as this can ultimately ruin its texture.

For both baked and no-bake cheesecakes, it’s handy to have a springform pan so that you can easily pop the finished cheesecake out after. However, regular baking pans can also be used provided you line them with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Ideally, whichever you line the pan with, there should be enough material to extend past the pan and it must be sturdy enough for you to be able to pull the finished cheesecake out of the pan using the foil or parchment paper.

2 Consider your preferences.

The textures of baked and unbaked cheesecakes are very different! No matter how well you make your cheesecake, it will all be for nothing if your creation and your preference don’t match.

Baked cheesecakes tend to be denser than no-bake ones, but are soft, fluffy, and have a light cakey crumb. No-bake cheesecakes tend to have more of a jelly-like consistency depending on your gelatin-to-cream ratio, but they are usually light, fluffy, and melt in your mouth.

Now that you know what you need to have and consider when choosing a cheesecake recipe, let’s get into the hows and whys of the different ways you can make a cheesecake.

These are the 3 Ways You Can Make A Cheesecake:

1 Bake In A Water Bath

First things first: baking with a water bath and baking with steam are the same thing, but steaming, the cooking method, is different. Steaming involves cooking something solely by the heat generated by the evaporated water; this is what you do with siomai or puto.

On the other hand, when you bake something with steam or in a water bath, you are still using the heat of the oven; except that because of the steam, you are adding moisture to the environment.

This serves two purposes: the moisture keeps the top of the cheesecake pliable and prevents it from forming a tough, crusty layer. This in turn allows the cheesecake to bake gently at a low temperature; enabling the cheesecake to rise slowly but surely is what creates that dense yet pillowy bite that’s unique to a perfectly-baked cheesecake.

Here is how you bake cheesecakes with steam:

  • 1. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C or 300 degrees F.
  • 2. In a separate pot or an electric kettle boil enough water to cover a low rectangular tray or pan. The tray for the water bath should not be higher than your springform pan or the pan you will bake your cheesecake in.
  • 3. Once your cheesecake is ready, place it in the low tray first. Then, insert this halfway into the pre-heated oven. Pour in the hot water, and take care to point your face away from the steam. The water should reach at least up to ¼ inch up the cheesecake pan.
  • 4. Insert the cheesecake and its water bath all the way into the oven and close.
  • 5. Bake for 40 – 60 minutes or until cheesecake is firm but slightly jiggly in the center.
  • 6. To avoid the cheesecake falling too rapidly, do not take it out of the over as soon as it finishes baking. Let it rest there with the heat off and the door cracked slightly ajar for about 10 minutes so that it can cool down gently.
  • 7. When it is removed from the oven, let it cool down in a place where it cannot be disturbed by drafts or wind.

Bake these cheesecake recipes in a water bath:

Red Velvet Cheesecake Recipe

Chocolate and Coffee Cheesecake Recipe

Oreo Chocnut Cheesecake Recipe

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

2 Bake it as is

Yes, that’s exactly how it sounds – you can bake cheesecake without a water bath. You prepare the crust, mix and batter, assemble the cheesecake in the pan, and pop it right in the oven. While this method may seem like the happy medium between the tedious water bath method and the no-fuss no-bake method, it is also the most high-risk one. Cheesecakes baked this way have a higher chance of cracking (which, unless you overbake, actually doesn’t affect the taste so much as the final look).

The key to baking a cheesecake this way is by investing in a proper oven thermometer. Not all ovens are created equal, and by properly setting your oven to the right temperature (somewhere around 150-170 degrees C or 300-340 degrees F), you can bake your cheesecake without it coming out dry or cracked.

These cheesecake recipes can be baked without a water bath:

Strawberry Cheesecake with Nutty Cookie Crust 

Ube Cheesecake Recipe 

Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake 

3 Make no-bake cheesecake

No-bake cheesecakes rely on gelatin, whipped cream, or a mixture of both to set. Gelatin-based cheesecakes are stable but can have an unpleasant jelly texture, while cheesecakes set with whipped cream are very fluffy but can deflate when they’re left out for too long. That is why striking the balance between the whipped cream and gelatin is key: you will get the best of both worlds when the airiness of the whipped cream is balanced with the stability gelatin provides.

Here’s how to make no-bake cheesecakes:

  • 1. Bloom the gelatin by mixing it with room temperature or cold water and letting it set.
  • 2. Beat the cream cheese until there are no more lumps. Make sure to scrape the sides and only stop when it’s light and fluffy.
  • 3. Add the sugar and other flavorings to the cream cheese. Mix well.
  • 4. In a separate bowl, whip up heavy cream to medium peaks. This is important – do not overwhip. Set aside.
  • 5. Melt the bloomed gelatin in a double boiler and add it to the cream cheese mixture.
  • 6.As soon as the gelatin is blended well, fold in the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture until no lumps remain. Remember: as soon as the cold whipped cream hits the cream cheese mixture with the gelatin, it will begin to set – so work fast.
  • 7. Pour the cheesecake mixture into your prepared pan and spread it.
  • 8. Let it set for a 1-2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Ready to make no-bake cheesecakes? Give these recipes a try:

Basic No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe 

Strawberry Cheesecake Recipes 

Easy White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake Recipe 

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