Cheesecake S.O.S. - Common Cheesecake Fails and How to Fix Them

Cheesecakes, cheesecakes, cheesecakes - they seem so simple and yet they’re deceptively difficult to master. If you’re suffering from a case of sinking filling or collapsing crust, don’t worry, you’re in the right place! Without further ado we present our Cheesecake S.O.S., what to do when things just didn’t go quite to plan.

1. My cheesecake is over-baked or cracked.


I thought you could skip the bain-marie stage. Think again! If this is indeed you, ensure to use a bain-marie, as it helps the cheesecake bake evenly, avoiding the dreaded crispy edges and undercooked middle. And if you’re thinking, ‘What on earth is a bain-marie?’, sorry, let us explain. A bain-marie, or water bath, is simply a tray of water you put your tin inside, which creates steam, encouraging the cheesecake to bake evenly in the oven. Make sure that you also wrap your tin in a layer of tin foil to ensure there’s no filling leakage (just in case!).

If you did use a bain-marie and the cheesecake is still overbaked or cracked, it is likely down to one of two things:

- You allowed it to bake in the oven for too long.

- You allowed it to cool in the oven (especially if you have a gas or fan oven).

How do I fix it?

Understandably, it can be difficult to judge when a cheesecake is done; it doesn’t have the same identifiable golden brown that a baked cake has. Try not to open the door super early, as it may cause the cake to sink, but use your best judgement and the suggested recipe time to first check if it’s done. ‘The Jiggle Test’ is the most surefire way of testing this; simply jiggle the pan, and if only a small circle in the middle of the mixture moves, it’s done!

To cool a cheesecake at the proper rate, leave the tin on a cooling rack until it is not hot to touch (this can initially be done by opening the oven door if and only if you are using a conventional oven), and then place the tin in the fridge to cool. This should take no longer than an hour; any longer than two, and you risk introducing bacteria into the environment.


2. My cheesecake is UNDERBAKED.


Ah, the most common of all cheesecake errors: using cold ingredients. Not only will using cold butter and cream cheese make the mixture lumpy and almost impossible to mix, but it will also cause the cheesecake to bake unevenly. Be warned: a non-smooth mix sets the cheesecake up for failure in the oven. Another reason could be that you combined all the ingredients at once.

How do I fix it?

Ensure to take cold ingredients such as butter and cream cheese 40 minutes to an hour before you intend to use them. This will allow them to reach room temperature and prevent them from tampering with the consistency of the mixture. Also, ensure you whip the cream a little before adding other ingredients, as this will make for a smooth texture without overmixing other ingredients.


3. My cheesecake is soggy or collapsing.


Take it from us: a no-bake crust means no bake! Trying to bake one will cause the filling to ooze into the crust, as they tend to have a much higher butter-to-biscuit ratio. Otherwise, it is likely that your crust just isn’t sturdy enough to hold the filling; either it needs more chilling or baking.

How do I fix it?

Be sure to chill your crust for 10 minutes or so before filling; this will prevent the inside from seeping into the crust.

Pre-baking the crust allows it to toughen up a bit before adding the filling.

Make sure that your crust comes up to the top of the tin to prevent filling seeping over the top.

Trust the cooling process; leave it in the tin for 4+ hours in the fridge (preferably overnight) before trying to remove it.


4. My cheesecake is not setting.

Why and how do you fix it?

Firstly, be careful not to whisk the mixture for longer than the recipe suggests, as this will cause air bubbles that, when the cheesecake expands in the oven, will collapse.

Chill out! Literally. Your cheesecake is going to take at least 4 hours (preferably overnight if you can spare the time) to chill. Whatever you do, do not freeze it, although it may speed up the process; you will lose all of the velvety texture.

Finally, using low-fat substitutions is a big no-no for cheesecakes. If you’re going to skimp, now is not the time to do it. Using low-fat cream cheese in particular will cause your cheesecake to become runny as it has a much higher moisture content than full-fat.


5. My cheesecake is lumpy.


As mentioned previously, using ingredients of different temperatures will make it harder to combine them (especially if you’re mixing your hands). 

How do I fix it?

Pull cold ingredients like butter and cream cheese out of the fridge an hour early and chop them into cubes to help them warm to room temperature. Don’t try putting them in the microwave instead, as this can have the reverse effect and make your mixture too runny. It’s best to use an electric mixer and try to stick tightly to the mixing time suggested in the recipe. 


6. My cheesecake is STUCK.

How do I fix it?

- Investing in a springform pan is never a bad idea, particularly if you bake a lot and can use it for other things.

- Grease the pan well (even if it’s non-stick).

- Use a sharp knife to cut the edges away from the sides of the pan. 


7. My cheesecake is stupid.


If you have ruled our underbaked, soggy, or collapsing, there is one possible cause: you opened the door too early.

How do I fix it?

Simply, don’t open the door too early. We know this is easier said than done, but try your best to stick to the recipe’s suggested cooking time. If this doesn’t seem right, perhaps invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is at a consistent temperature.

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