Q. I make the best cheesecakes in the world, but they are always split in the middle. I bake them at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours in a bath until the center is set. Please help!
A. First of all, if you make the best cheesecakes in the world and someone other than you is griping about them, they have a lot of nerve.
Now, if it is you who can't sleep at night because of split cheesecakes, my suggestion is relax! It's the flavor that counts. How about that for some help? OK, let's see what we can really do about this splitting problem.
Splitting normally happens during the cooling period or if your oven is too hot. If you bake your cheesecakes at 350, you are cooking at the right temperature. Unless your oven is incorrectly calibrated, heat is not your problem.
Try this. When your cheesecake is finished cooking, remove it from the water bath. Put the cheesecake pan on an upper rack with the water pan on a lower rack beneath it, and crack the oven door. Let the cheesecake cool completely in this environment, and you should see little or no splitting.
Jim Coleman is executive chef at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, a cookbook author, and host of television and radio cooking shows. Candace Hagan is a food writer and cookbook author.