The Roasting Pan Hack To Prevent Your Cheesecake From Drying Out

Rich, fluffy, and oh-so-creamy, cheesecake is a dessert favorite for many dairy fanatics. Seasonally spiced, chocolate-filled, New York style, or topped with fresh fruit, cheesecake is a remarkably versatile treat with one infamous drawback: cracking. We all know that cracking is the cardinal sin of making cheesecakes. Even experienced bakers fear inching the oven open, only to find gaping fissures in their otherwise perfect cheesecake. There are lots of tips and tricks for avoiding the dreaded cheesecake crack, but moisture is the best way to ensure a smooth surface.

For a clean cheesecake top, use the bain-marie method. Bain-marie might sound like an intimidating technique reserved for a fancy French patisserie, but it's just another term for double boiling, or using a water bath. The bain-marie technique is super simple — all you need is an extra roasting pan, aluminum foil, and some water. Best of all, it helps improve the inner cheesecake texture while preventing it from cracking.

Smooth it over

So, why does cheesecake crack? There's something to be said about mixing cold ingredients, or incorrectly reducing baking temperatures, but the biggest culprit for cheesecake cracks is dryness. The heat from the baking process draws moisture out of the delicate batter, and because the cheesecake surface gets the most heat exposure, it's prone to dryness and cracking.

Here's where bain-marie helps. Traditionally, bain-marie, or double boiling, involves immersing a pan of batter, custard, or chocolate in another pan of water while baking. The water surrounding the edges of the inner pan regulates temperature and helps evenly bake the contents while evaporating steam adds moisture to the exposed batter, preventing it from drying out.

For a less intense water bath, put the roasting pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and the pan of cheesecake on the top. This allows steam to keep the surface moist while reducing the chances of water seeping into the pan and causing a soggy crust. If you choose the traditional bain-marie approach, be sure to thoroughly wrap your springform pan in aluminum foil to prevent any leakage, and preserve your silky, smooth cheesecake.