Perfect Cheesecake Without a Water Bath | Bakes & Blunders
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Perfect Cheesecake Without a Water Bath

Creamy cheesecake is probably my favorite dessert of all time.  But like many home bakers, I don’t bake it that often because it’s intimidating.  You have to worry about cracking, over baking, and don’t get me started on water baths.  Luckily, I’m going to teach you how to bake a perfect cheesecake without a water bath!

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I Was Scared

 

My husband is not that into baked goods (trust me, I know), so when he asked me to make him a cheesecake a few weeks ago, I immediately got on it.  

 

Okay.  That’s not true.  I hemmed and hawed and eventually penciled it into my schedule.  Why?  Because I’m a giant baby and I was a little intimidated about making a classic cheesecake.

Sliced Cherry Cheesecake | Bakes & Blunders

Cheesecakes have a bad rep for being difficult and most bakers balk at the water bath, and I was no exception.  But, y’all, this recipe is freakin’ amazing and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

 

 

What Is Cheesecake?

 

This is the ever popular debate.  Is cheesecake a cake, pie, or a tart?  Personally, I consider it a baked custard.  A custard is a dish thickened with eggs and that’s exactly what this recipe is.  Now, I’m also willing to accept that cheesecake is its own category.

 

So what do you consider a cheesecake?  Leave a comment below so we can see what everyone thinks!  I’m curious to get your opinion.

 

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Developing the Recipe

 

I took two very different recipes from Rage Baking and The New Best Recipe and merged them together to create this masterpiece.  Merging recipes can be a bit tricky, just as a warning.  I was able to pull this off because I understood how the ingredients would work together to create a creamy cheesecake.

Perfect Cherry Cheesecake | Bakes & Blunders

The lemon juice and sour cream help with the slight tangy flavor of a classic cheesecake.  Lemon zest adds too much lemon flavor and heavy cream can dull the tang.  The egg yolk might not be completely necessary, but it adds to the richness as well as adds more fat to prevent curdling.

 




 

Top Tips for a Perfect Cheesecake

 

A perfect cheesecake has a smooth, flat top, and is creamy at the center and slightly firmer near the crust.  Usually, cheesecakes are baked in a bath of warm water to insulate the outer edge so that the center has time to fully cook.  But it’s not always necessary.

Flat, No Crack Cheesecake

Here are my best tips for a perfect cheesecake without a water bath:

  • When mixing the batter, keep the speed low so that you don’t incorporate too much air.  That can lead to cracks.  
  • Don’t over mix!  Over mixing can cause the cream cheese to separate.
  • When mixing the batter, scrape your bowl down frequently.  This will make sure everything is well combined and not lumpy.
  • Don’t overfill the crust.  Try not to let the batter go above the crust’s edge.  It will spill over a bit and that can burn. (Ask me how I know…)
  • Let the cheesecake cool slowly.  Turn off the oven and crack it open for 15 minutes.  Super paranoid?  After that first 15 minutes, open the door all the way for another 15.

 

Related Reading: Black Forest Cheesecake

 

#1 Tool for Cheesecakes

 

This might surprise you, but the most important tool to baking a perfect cheesecake without a water bath is an instant read thermometer.  Is that what you expected?  If you check for the jiggle, you might over bake it.

 

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To prevent cracking and ending up with a dry, dense cheesecake, you want to turn off the oven and begin cooling the cheesecake as soon as you hit 147℉ – 150℉.  It will still be quite wobbly, but it will set up.  

 

Graham Cracker Crust

 

A classic cheesecake has a graham cracker crust, so that’s what I did here.  After combining the ingredients in a food processor, it should be crumbly, but it should hold together when you press it into the springform pan.

Graham Cracker Crust | Bakes & Blunders
The crust is ready to bake!

I slightly over baked my crust.  So in this recipe, I cut the crust’s bake time down a few minutes.  You want it to set, but you don’t want it to get very golden either.  Personally, it didn’t bother me much, but I like things on the darker side anyways.

 

Get creative and use any cookie that floats your boat.  If you use a gluten free cookie, you’ve got yourself a gluten free cheesecake!  Some ideas for other cookies are:

  • Oreos
  • Nilla Wafers
  • Lotus Biscuits
  • Flavored Graham Crackers (cinnamon or chocolate)
  • Ginger Snaps

 

 

Cherry Pie Filling

 

Because we poked our cheesecake with a thermometer, we need to cover up the top of our beautiful creation.  I used a half batch of my easy cherry pie filling.  Since it’s almost Winter, I used frozen cherries.

A Slice of Cheesecake with Cherry Pie Filling

Strawberry is another classic topping.  You could always use strawberries instead of cherries.  Heck, you can swap it out for any juicy berry!  What’s your favorite way to top a cheesecake?  Tell me!

 




 

Enjoy!

 

This is, without a doubt, the BEST cheesecake I’ve ever had.  And boy do I like cheesecake.  Buttery crust, creamy cheesecake, and juicy cherries are a killer combo.  You can make a perfect cheesecake and you don’t even need a water bath to do it.  So get baking!

Perfect Cheesecake Without a Water Bath | Bakes & Blunders

If you love baking and live for dessert, you should totes be following Bakes & Blunders on Pinterest.  Once you do, you’ll get to see more tasty recipes when you get lost in a Pinterest deep dive.

Perfect Cherry Cheesecake | Bakes & Blunders
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Classic Cheesecake Without a Water Bath

Make a crazy creamy cheesecake without a water bath! It's easy and truly the BEST cheesecake ever.
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Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Cheesecake, Custard
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooling Time 6 hours
Total Time 7 hours 45 minutes
Servings 16 people
Calories 396kcal
Author Colleen

Ingredients

Crust

  • 12 whole graham crackers (6.5 oz)
  • 5 Tbsps unsalted butter melted (2.5 oz)
  • 1.5 oz sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Cheesecake Batter

  • 32 oz cream cheese room temperature & cubed (4 pkgs)
  • 8 oz sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz sour cream room temperature
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk room temperature

Instructions

Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and set aside.
  • Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse again to combine.
  • Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about two inches or so up the sides. Tip: use the bottom of a glass to press firmly. Bake for 8 minutes, or until set but not very golden. Set aside to cool while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

Cheesecake Batter

  • Increase the oven to 500°F.
  • In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low to soften and break up, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and add the salt and half of the sugar. Beat on medium- low to combine, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl down and add the remaining sugar. Beat on medium- low to combine, about 1 minute.
  • Scrape the bowl down and add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat on low until combined, about 1 minute.
  • Scrape the bowl down and add the egg yolk. Beat on low to combine. Scrape the bowl and add the eggs two at a time, beating on low to combine. Scrape the bowl between additions.
  • Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the crust, try to avoid over filling the crust. Bake at 500°F for 10 minutes (DO NOT open the oven). Then reduce the heat to 200°F and bake until the center of the cheesecake registers 147°F - 150°F with an instant read thermometer, about 60- 75 minutes.
  • Turn the oven off and crack it open to cool for 15 minutes. Continue cooling on a rack for 3 hours. Run a thin spatula or knife around the edge of the pan. Wrap the cheesecake in cling film and chill overnight, or for at least 3 hours. Top with any pie filling you like before serving.

Notes

  • Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature.
  • Use full fat dairy products.
  • Top with a half batch of my cherry pie filling.

My Favorite Products for this Recipe

Hi there! I’m Colleen, a novice baker with a passion for learning and improving my bakes… and blunders. On Bakes and Blunders, you can find all sorts of tasty recipes that range in difficulty, but most importantly, I’ll try to explain the reason behind important steps. If you know why a recipe works, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your unique tastes, and you’ll be able to reliably produce some very delicious treats. If you love baking and want to expand and grow your skills, or if you are a casual baker and just need some pointers, my blog is right up your alley! Join me on my baking journey and we’ll learn how to make more impressive recipes together.

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