Baking tips

Don’t have a rolling pin? Use a wine bottle in a pinch.

Simply sandwich your dough between sheets of plastic wrap and use a wine bottle to roll out your dough. (via Real Simple)

For easy cleanup, make cupcake batter in the blender.

For a quick & easy way to bake cupcakes, simply mix everything in your blender. Then, easily pour into the cupcake liners, rinse, and stick in the dishwasher. Done! (via The Hedonista)

Make your own 3-ingredient colored fondant.

All you need is powdered sugar, Jell-O, and marshmallows to easily make your own fondant at home. (via Instructables)

Let the cheesecake cool gradually.

When the cheesecake has baked enough and is set, but still jiggly, it’s time for the gradual cooling process. I typically let a cheesecake sit in the oven with the door closed for about another 30 minutes. Then I crack the door of the oven about half way and let it gradually cool some more. This allows the cheesecake to cool slowly, while also finishing baking, which again helps avoid cracking. Just before putting the cheesecake in the fridge, you can run a knife around the edge to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides, or jiggle it around a bit to loosen it from the sides. Now that we’ve got our best tips, here are a few other answers to common questions about cheesecakes:

Don’t over bake the cheesecake.

In addition to the other things already mentioned, over baking a cheesecake can lead to cracks, much like with a custard pie. You’ll know the cheesecake has baked enough when the edges of the cheesecake are well set and the inner few inches are set but still jiggly.

Don’t open the oven.

If you open up the oven during baking, you’ll let out all the good hot, steamy air. The change in temperature can possibly cause the cheesecake to fall in the middle or bake unevenly.

Use a springform pan.

Ok, so now that I’ve just said how unreliable springform pans are, I’m going to tell you that you still need one. To get that perfect looking cheesecake, you need a pan with removable sides. It’s just the way it is. And if you’re a lover of cheesecake, you’ll use it plenty so it’ll be a good investment.

Leak-proof your water bath.

It’s such a bummer to go through all the trouble of baking a cheesecake and then have a soggy crust. As much as a springform pan is important to a great cheesecake, they are also the most unreliable pan ever. I’ve used many a springform pan and only ever found one that didn’t leak (and the other 4 of the exact same pan did leak, this was just a lucky one). To leak-proof your water bath, check out my tutorial for how to set up your pan for a leak-proof water bath. Hint: I use a crock pot liner bag.

Use a water bath.

This is a step that most people want desperately to avoid, but trust me – the extra few minutes it takes are totally worth it. The benefits are many. First, the water bath generates steam that helps keep the cheesecake from drying out and cracking. Second, the water bath keeps the sides of the cheesecake from baking more quickly than the middle. It helps bake more evenly, also helping prevent cracks. If you forgo the water bath, you are often left with a cheesecake that falls in the middle, browns too much around the edges and cracks. All are some of the worst culprits to a perfect cheesecake. Make the time for the extra step and you won’t regret it!

Don’t over mix the batter or mix on too high speed.

Both over mixing and mixing on a high speed add more air to a batter. Too much air in a cheesecake can cause cracks a few ways. One – big air bubbles can rise to the surface and create cracks or little craters. Two – adding air causes things to rise and too much rise in a cheesecake isn’t a good thing. It can rise too much or too quickly and then fall and crack. This also goes back to number one about room temperature cream cheese. If your cream cheese isn’t soft enough, you’ll have to mix things more to get out the lumps. So again, be sure it’s nice and soft. Also, more air tends to be added during the process of adding eggs to batter, so be sure to use a lower speed.