Want to bake the perfect cheesecake? For even many of the most experienced bakers, producing a perfectly baked, uniformly creamy cheesecake from center to edges remains an elusive skill to master. Very often, the creamy texture at the center of a good cheesecake fades into a drier more over baked, dense consistency at the outside edge. A very simple method holds the key to eliminate this problem with no fancy equipment needed. The secret is in a bain marie.

A bain marie is simply a water bath that buffers direct heat from the sides and bottom of the baking pan to more evenly bake the cheesecake from the sides to the center. This is a common method for preparing a baked custard like a flan or a crème brulée. When you think of it, cheesecake falls into this category as well. Even though we may think of it as a cake, it is in essence a baked custard and needs to be prepared as such.

I bake my cheesecakes in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan that has the bottom and sides wrapped in multiple layers of wide, heavy duty aluminum foil which forms a sort of boat that the cheesecake pan sits in. The roll of aluminum foil that I use is about 16 inches wide. I use at least 4 layers of foil to make sure that no water leaks in and ruins the crust of my cheesecake. The aluminum foil wrapped pan is then placed inside a larger baking pan; I use a 12 inch cake pan. Boiling water is then poured into the larger pan filling it from 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top. I find it best to pour the boiling water into the pan after it is placed on the rack in the oven as you are less likely to splash water onto the cheesecake or inside the aluminum foil. I reuse the aluminum foil for several future cheesecakes, adding a couple of layers to it each time just to be safe.

If you’ve not tried this method before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes to the texture of your cheesecake. Light, silky smooth, creamy and delicious throughout; everything the perfect cheesecake should be.

Making this uncomplicated but spectacular recipe for White Chocolate Cheesecake would be great practice for honing your cheesecake skills.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

In a small bowl, combine:

1 & 1/3 cups graham wafer crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Press into the bottom of a lightly greased springform pan. (Grease bottom only!)

Over low heat in a small saucepan, heat to scalding

1/3 cup whipping cream

Stir in until completely melted:

1 cup good quality white chocolate chips

Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the cheesecake batter.

Cream together:

3 eight ounce packages ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar

Add, one at a time

3 eggs

beating well after each addition. Add

3 tsp vanilla extract
melted white chocolate

Finally blend in

1 cup whipping cream

Pour over the prepared base and bake in a bain marie at 325 degrees F for about 55-65 minutes depending on the size of your springform pan. Being baked in a bain marie also greatly reduces the chance that your cheesecake will develop cracks.

The cheesecake need not brown at all to be properly baked or if it does, it should just be beginning to lightly brown at the edges. The surface of the cheesecake should lose any shine when the cake is properly baked. It can still be slightly wobbly just at the center at this point.

Allow the cheesecake to cool thoroughly on a wire rack at room temperature before storing it in the fridge.

When completely cool remove the cheesecake from the spring form pan by running a sharp knife around the outside edge before removing the sides of the pan and then run a knife under the crust to release it from the pan’s bottom. Cover the top with fresh raspberries or your favourite berries. Bakeapple jam is particularly good on this cheesecake. Garnish with melted white chocolate if desired.

For more deserts visit the chef’s blog Rock Recipes