So, remember this cheesecake I posted on Monday? Can I tell you all a little secret about it? It wasn't looking nearly as good a few hours before I took that photo. And not just because it didn't have a decorative spiderweb. No, it also had a giant crack right across the center. I offer you Exhibit A:
I was so hopeful when I pulled the cheesecake from the oven - it looked perfect! But as it cooled, the crack started to develop and my heart sank a little more as it got bigger and bigger.
Sometimes you can live with a crack in your cheesecake - maybe you're going to cover the top with whipped cream or strawberries, and no one will ever know the difference. But other times you can't hide the crack and need to fix it, which was certainly the case for me this weekend.
So, here's what you do. After cooking the cheesecake, let it cool and then refrigerate as directed in the instructions. When it's fully chilled, it's time to repair the crack. All you need is an offset spatula, hot water and a kitchen towel. Dip the offset spatula in the hot water, then dry the spatula with the towel. Use the spatula to gently press down on the cheesecake in the area of the crack and spread to fill it in. You'll get the hang of the gentle press and spread motion quickly - it's fairly simple. Repeat until the crack has been completely filled and the top is smooth!
Well mostly smooth anyway, it might not be 100% perfect. You can still see a small imperfection in mine, but hopefully we can agree it's about a million times better than it was in the before pic, right? :) After you repair the crack, you'll want to chill the cheesecake again to give it a chance to set.
(I found this tip here on eHow, there's also a video if you want more help before attempting this trick.)
I mentioned the other day that I don't often make cheesecakes because of the time commitment involved. While that's true, there's also another reason I avoid them, and it's the possibility of cracks, which frustrate me to no end. There are several things you can do to try avoid cracks in the first place - start with all of your ingredients at room temperature, try to avoid overmixing and incorporating too much air into the batter, bake your cheesecake in a water bath, run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake when it comes out of the oven (so as it cools the edges can pull away from the pan), and maybe most importantly, avoid overbaking. Overbaking is usually my downfall - I find it so hard to gauge doneness. I feel much better knowing that if all else fails and I do wind up with a crack in my cheesecake, I can fix it if necessary!