How-To: Baking Cheesecake (Mom’s way!)

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springparty15 Recently I was showing my mom a few pictures from my Spring Dinner party – like my whipped goat cheese bruschetta, eggplant caponata and the strawberry swirled cheesecake (her recipe).  It only took her one glance at the cheesecake photo to realize I tweaked the recipe!  The first thing she said was “how long did you cook that thing for?”  Um….about 3.5 hours??? (note blackened crust).  After she rattled off about 10 different reasons why I had some “difficulty” with my cheesecake, I decided she should just contribute her expert knowledge in a guest post.  That way the entire cheesecake eating/baking community has a chance to NOT make all of my mistakes (of which, supposedly, there were many).  So without further ado, my mother the cheesecake expert’s, post on the do’s and don’ts of cheesecake baking:

My Dearest Daughter,
I’m so proud whenever I read you’re “Bean a Foodie” blog. You have become such a creative cook, coming up with a lot of “new” ways to make some old favorites, taking some family recipes and making them just a bit more healthy and best of all, eating you’re veggies without whining!

BUT, when it comes to baking, you need a bit more practice and maybe a few more reminders from Mom…  The blog about your “Spring Dinner” was wonderful but after talking to you and seeing the photo’s of your “cheesecake”, I can see why you are on the “second string” when it comes to baking.  You just need a bit more practice to make the “A-team” team.  Consider this:

  1. First, read the entire recipe before even starting. Make sure you have all the ingredients first and if necessary at the correct temperature. That also means having the correct equipment. When the recipe calls for a 10 inch springform pan, that’s what is necessary. Not an 8 or 9, but a 10 inch pan. (I think one problem you had with my cheesecake recipe was that you chose to put all the batter into a smaller pan, NOT the 10″ and therefore you needed to cook it much longer, changing the consistency and burning the crust.)
  2. I know it can be simpler to guesstimate on measurements, baking times and temperatures.  It’s easier to do that when grilling, roasting or sautéing. Not so in baking. Measurements should be right on and use the appropriate tools; e.g. dry measures for the dry ingredients and wet measures for wet. It’s just that simple.
  3. Also, check the temperature in your oven.  You may want to get an oven thermometer to check it out to make sure it’s giving an accurate temperature reading.
  4. All ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing and baking a cheesecake.  Leave them on the counter overnight or for at least 3-4 hours.
  5. Be careful not to over beat the eggs. Keep your mixer on low speed when adding the eggs in this recipe. It prevents too much air from getting into the batter and changing the consistency of the cake.
  6. When you take the cake out of the oven, place it in the refrigerator right away. (The center of the cheesecake should be custardy when it comes out of the oven.) It helps prevent those cracks you can get on the top.  But don’t cover it with plastic wrap or anything, it will develop condensation on the top of your cake and make the top soggy.
  7. And finally, before you decide to make changes to any recipe that requires baking, may I suggest that you make the entire recipe as directed first, then change it as you become better acquainted with the baking technique.

Mom, xoxo

Lemon and Strawberry Swirled Cheesecake:

  • 4 blocks regular cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ lb butter, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker cookies, crushed into breadcrumb sized pieces
Strawberry Swirl:
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • ¼ cup sugar
  1. It’s crucial that all your ingredients are at room temperature. This helps to prevent cracking on the top of the cheesecake.
  2. Wrap a 9″ Spring form pan with aluminum foil – make sure entire bottom is covered. This is just a safety precaution in case any of the butter from the crust leaks out.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Prepare crust by mixing the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a large bowl. Mixture should resemble wet sand.
  5. With your hand, gently press the cookie crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
  6. To prepare strawberry swirl, place strawberries and ¼ cup sugar into a food processor. Process until fully broken down into a thick liquid.
  7. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds – if desired.
  8. Combine cream cheese and sugar until in the bowl of a stand mixer (or with hand held mixer) until thoroughly combined.
  9. Then add in lemon juice and salt.
  10. With mixer on low, add eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated.  Pour filling on top of crust.
  11. Lightly drizzle on the strawberry swirl over the top of the cheesecake. Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, swirl in the strawberry mixture throughout the batter. You want swirls throughout the entire cake and on the top.
  12. Bake at 350 for 55 mins to 1 hr. The center of the cheesecake should just be barely wobbly when cooked.
  13. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

You tell me!  Is your mom the “go-to” cook in your family?  What’s your favorite dish to bake?  What’s the hardest cooking technique for you to master?


  1. Tamara

    June 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Aw, your mom is so cute!! That is awesome.

    • mewinebrenner

      June 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Hahaha yes! She’s an awesome mom AND cook!

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