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Professional tips for winning cheesecake

Nail Shavuot with these tips from Michelin-star level pastry chef, Hesky Meyer


No one wants a dry, cracked, lumpy or unset cheesecake — all common mistakes people make. We asked a professional pastry chef for a guide to how to perfect this traditional treat. 

Here are his top tips how to avoid any potential pitfalls. 

Baked cheesecake: 

  • Keep all your ingredients at room temperature. Even the sugar! This will ensure everything mixes and emulsifies properly and you will avoid lumps or a grainy texture. 
  • Do not overbeat! This is so important as it will prevent the cracks. When you are combining the cream cheese, eggs, sugar and other ingredients do it on medium low speed and use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer rather than a whisk to incorporate less air which ultimately causes cracks.
  • Make it steamy:  Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven when you bake the cheesecake. The steam will help keep the cake soft and moist. You can also cook the cheesecake in a water bath or Bain Marie but make sure if you are using a springform tin, you wrap the bottom in foil to prevent the cake becoming soggy. 
  • No peeking or poking: Cheesecake doesn’t bake like a regular cake so poking it to see if it is done will only make a hole. Nothing more. Be patient and wait until the timer has gone off, then give your cake a jiggle. You want a slight wobble in the centre just like a creme brulee  — both are essentially baked custards. However, if the cake seems too watery, bake for a few more minutes.
  • Master of disguise: Even if the cheesecake does crack, it will still taste great. You cover up those cracks with a layer of sour cream, fruits or chocolate.

No-bake cheesecake: 

  • Warm it up: Again, you should have all your ingredients at room temperature. Fridge cold cream cheese can leave you with lumps. For a smooth batter, take out everything an hour before using.
  • Lighten that touch:  over mixing cream cheese can make it too soft and affect the set. And over-whipped cream will turn unpleasantly grainy and sandy. As soon as the cream is at just over soft peak stage (holding its shape) stop whisking! When you fold the cream cheese, the cream will get thicker since more mixing is taking place.
  • Take it slow: rushing such a delicate cake will always result in mistakes, rather put in that extra 15 minutes knowing you have the best product possible!
  • Plan ahead: even thought it's a no bake cheesecake it doesn’t mean it will be quicker to make! Give yourself time to prep and chill. I recommend making it the night before so the cake can be left overnight to set fully.
  • Ingredient alert: watch those flavourings. Avoid very watery ingredients like syrups. They can dilute the batter which could mean in a not-so-set cheesecake. Don’t let this hold you back though! Be adventurous! Ingredients like caramel, chocolate, berry compote are all wonderful  fillings to take your cheesecake to the next level.

Chef Hesky Meyer is the pastry chef at one of London’s newest Michelin-starred restaurants, Pavyllon. He has previously worked at kosher restaurant, Tish, in Belsize Park, London NW3 

Find his recipe for a bake strawberry cheesecake here.  

Article first appeard in the JC May 25 2020

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