I wanted to show the instructables community how to easily bake a cheesecake from scratch. My inspiration came from Tolstoi78's Rainbow Cheesecake. Thanks!!!
Step 1: The Right Equipment
The most important piece of equipment for baking a cheesecake from scratch is a springform pan. The pan has a latch on the side to remove the bottom easily. This allows the cake to bake evenly. Removing and more importantly eating the cake is made simple with this type of pan.
Also, you will need a mixer and really any mixer will work. A pan larger than you springform pan at least 2 in deep and a cooking thermometer will also be needed.
Finally, I like to have a good recipe book around. I would like to give a shout out to Baking Illustrated: The practical kitchen companion for the home baker. This book was put together by America's Test Kitchen. It includes not only tested recipes, but the science behind certain aspects of baking.
Step 2: Making Your Crust
The fun part of cooking and baking is not following your recipe book exactly... just use it as a guide. Making a crust for cheesecake is simple. You can use chocolate wafers, oreo's, or graham crackers. For my rainbow cake i decided to use something with a little more color... something tacky. So, I decided to use fruit loops cereal.
Ingredients for fruit loops crust:
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + 1 tablespoon melted for greasing the pan
- 4-5 oz. crushed fruit loops (about a 1/5 to 1/4 of a box depending on the size)
Making the crust:
- Set the oven to 250 and adjust the rack to the lower middle position
- Grease the springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of butter. (Tip for melting butter: put the butter in a cup and microwave for 10-15 seconds. You want the butter really soft not liquid)
- Combine crushed fruit loops and butter... use your hands it's part of the fun!!!
- Put mixture in your pan and spread evenly with a flat-bottomed measuring cup
- Bake for about 5- 10 min (until it is slightly toasted and fragrant)
- Cool on a wire rack (Tip: take the unused rack out of your oven before you start baking)
Step 3: The Filling
- 2.5 lbs (5 eight oz packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-in cubes at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks + 6 large eggs
Making the Filling:
- Set oven to 500
- Beat cheese in a bowl for about a minute on a low speed each time.
- Add salt and half the sugar... beat. put in the remaining sugar... beat.
- Add sour cream, lemon, and vanilla.... beat.
- Add yolks... beat. Add eggs two at a time... beat.
(Tip: Before you add the eggs make sure there are no clumps or air pockets. These will cause cracks in your cheesecake. Do not mix longer than necessary.)
Now color your filling...
- Mix and match your basic colors of food dye to make an array of colors.
- Be creative.... Add some mint simple syrup to the filling and decorate it red and white like a peppermint for Christmas with a chocolate wafer crust. Orange and brown for Halloween and decorate the cake with candy... Red, white, and blue cakes decorated with sparklers!!!
Step 4: Filling With Filling
Now that your filling is mixed and colored. Your pan with crust should be cooled. Take the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and grease the sides of your pan. Now, Pour your colors of cheesecake filling in the middle of the crust. Take the first color and pour it in the middle. Then, pour the next color right in the middle and the other color will be pushed towards the edges. Repeat. ( Thanks again, Tolstoi78)
Step 5: Baking and Cooling
Baking your cheesecake is the hardest part of the process, but a water bath and a cooking thermometer will make baking a breeze. A problem with baking cheesecakes is cracking of the surface due to drastic temperature change and air bubbles when mixing. A water bath and proper mixing (set 3) should eliminate any cracking of your beautifully decorated cheesecake.
Get a pan larger than your springform pan and it should be at least 2-3 in deep. It is a good idea to wrap your springform pan in foil to prevent leaking. Place the springform pan in the larger pan and put them in your oven. Now quickly fill the pan with water using a pitcher at least halfway up the springform pan. (this prevents spilling any water)
- Bake your cheesecake for 10 min at 500
- Without opening your oven decrease your oven temperature to 200
- After 45 min check the center of your cheesecake with the cooking thermometer. Once your cheesecake reaches an internal temperature of 150 remove it from the oven.
- Transfer the cake to your wire rack and cool for 2-3 hours at room temperature
- Wrap cheesecake and cool in fridge for at least 3 more hours
- Enjoy!! Your cheesecake can be deliciously refrigerated for up to 4 days.