We had guests over last night and I felt like making a leg of lamb. Issue #104 of Fine Cooking has a delicious looking leg of lamb recipe (although in the end, the leg of lamb at the store was too small, so I went with a boneless leg and changed recipes). Further in this issue of Fine Cooking, they had a create-your-own cheesecake recipe. I hadn’t made a cheesecake in nearly 5 years, based on looking at the archives of this blog (and that cheesecake had also been the first cheesecake in a few years). So I was overdue for some cheesecake.
The white chocolate raspberry variant in the create-your-own recipe was calling to me… mostly because I happened to have some Chambord (raspberry liqueur) on hand.
I purchased the rest of the ingredients and was about to start baking. But I couldn’t find my springform pan. I thought it was hidden away somewhere because it really only gets used for cheesecake. But after looking everywhere… in every closet, in every storage bin, in the attic… I concluded I must have gotten rid of it. I didn’t feel like braving the first snow storm of the year to purchase another one, so I started searching for alternatives.
Can you make a cheesecake in a regular cake pan? According to the Internet, and more specifically, Alton Brown, you can. In fact, Alton Brown hates springform pans because most of them leak when using a water bath. He uses a 9-inch round cake pan that is 3 inches deep. My only problem was my round cake pans are only 2 inches deep and I knew that would be cutting it close. But I had 3-inch deep square cake pans.
Can you make a square cheesecake? I figured since it’s being baked in a water bath, it should be cooking pretty evenly so I shouldn’t have to worry about the corners overcooking. I also like making square cakes, because you can easily line them with parchment and have some parchment overhang for easy removal without needing to flip the cake (which would worry me with a cheesecake). So I decided to try making a square cheesecake. (Note: a 8″x8″ square pan has almost the same surface area as a 9″ round pan so there’s no need to adjust the recipe.)
So I proceeded with the recipe, first lining the cake pan with 2 large strips of parchment paper (one in each direction with a generous overhang on all sides), pressing the graham crumb crust into the pan and baking it, then adding the cheesecake mixture. The cake was baked in a water bath at 300°F for exactly an hour, then I turned off the oven, let most of the heat out, and let the cake slowly cool down in the warm oven (still in the water bath). It then went into the fridge to cool overnight. The following day, to remove the cake from the pan, I first dipped the cake pan into a hot water bath (hot water from the faucet) for 15 seconds to help release it, then I used the parchment paper overhang to pull it out. It came out beautifully and easily, and no cracks!
Conclusion? This is the only way I’ll make cheesecakes going forward. No worries about a leaking springform pan, and no need for springform pans taking up room in a small kitchen.