The Waterbath

January 27th, 2009 by katie

Our family cheesecake recipe has always been made sans water bath.  I have always heard nightmares about water baths: glass casserole dishes shattering, splashing boiling water on oneself, cheesecakes swimming in water where the crust should have been, etc..  So I never bothered with a water bath and, despite a few cracks, our cheesecakes have always been delicious, fluffy and um, delicious.  Not super pretty, but seriously when it tastes this good, who cares?

So over the holidays I decided to experiment.  Yes, I braved the water bath for you dear reader.  The verdict: easy, super pretty, very very moist cheesecake.  First, the easy part.  The water bath wasn’t hard at all.  I think had I tried to do it in one of my shallow glass casseroles it would have been a different story.  You really need a good, deep roasting pan with nice handles for this.  Also, buy the 18 inch wide foil and use one continuous sheet rather than trying to wrap multiple sheets around the base.  The 18 inch sheets are wide enough to come up around the sides of the cake evenly.  This prevents any worries of leaking between sheets of foil.

Second, the pretty part.  The resulting cheesecake was very pretty-smooth and white like the ones in the freezer aisle.  The only problem I have ever had with our usual method is the cheesecake comes out very brown, crusty at the edges, and generally cracked all over from the sides of the cake rising so high and then collapsing back down.  In fact the cheesecake was so smooth and white I had trouble deciding if it was cooked or not.

Lastly, the very very moist part.  The cheesecakes (I made two just in case) were very very moist and creamy.  In fact, for our family, they were too creamy.  The texture was the epitome of “melt in your mouth” and yet this cheesecake already melts in your mouth.  The texture was very different from the fluffy, light cheesecake we are used to.  It was more dense, more creamy.  I served these cheesecakes at two different family parties and the vote all around was that it was delicious-but next time make it the way we usually do.

Chalk it up to familiarity, taste, or the specifics of a recipe but we all agreed that the water bath wasn’t necessary.  So if you haven’t tried using a water bath but want to, go ahead and try it-it isn’t hard and makes a beautiful, impressive cake.  But if you want permission to not use a water bath, then stop worrying about it.  This recipe doesn’t need it to be any more creamy and moist anyway.

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9 Responses

  1. Cheryl

    Man, I made rice pudding this weekend and thought it satisfied my craving for a sweet dairy dessert.

    Until I saw your cheesecake.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve always used a water bath, but it’s nice to know it isn’t 100% necessary.

  2. noble pig

    I love the waterbath becuase I never get cracks! This looks like a lovely version!

  3. Melissa

    Yeah, what Cathy said – I remember her saying she never gets cracks that way. But I have no valid opinion since I don’t bake. 😉

    Thanks for testing it the other way though. Mighty industrious of you. You do so make me want to try to bake more. I love the stuff you make.

  4. sweetbird

    I stink at making cheesecake, but I might try it out again soon. I’ll probably use your recipe so I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. Ann

    Just GORGEOUS! Cheesecakes are so pretty.

  6. RecipeGirl

    I swear by the water bath. I always use the big, wide foil (as you mentioned)- extra strength version + 2 layers. It really does make for a pretty, smooth cheesecake every time!

  7. Kristen

    I’ve always been afraid of water baths too. I think, after reading this, I finally have the confidence to give one a try. That cheesecake looks amazing!

  8. Kevin

    Great looking cheesecake! I will have to try a water bath next time.

  9. DD

    I did the water bath for a cheesecake over Thanksgiving it was great although I did have issues knowing when it was done but it all worked out. Definitely wise to use lots of foil. Look yummy!

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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