Cheesecake making requires a bit more attention to detail and patience than most cakes. When making a cheesecake you are part cook and part baby sitter but it's worth it, no?
Here are a couple tips on cheesecake making. Mostly, we are trying to avoid cracking, a common problem.
First, make sure the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature. Otherwise, your filling could be lumpy and lumps can lead to cracking. The eggs and wrapped cream cheese can be quickly brought to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of very warm tap water for 15 minutes.
When mixing the filling we want to whip the least amount of air in as possible so use a low speed. Eggs hold air, so add those towards the end.
Use a water bath when baking and bake at a low temperature. Baking times can vary start checking it around the 40 minute mark. The cake should be very lightly golden at the edges and almost set with a moist, wiggly center.
As the cake cools it will want to pull away from the edges so run a knife around the edge before cooling to help loosen it up. Also, it's going to need to cool as slowly as possible. Cool in the water bath and then out on the bath on a rack for about an hour. It will then need to go in the fridge to finnish setting for at least 6 hours.
When cutting the chilled cheesecake use a large knife and wipe clean in between cuts.
Pumpkin + Cardamom Marbled Cheesecake
for the crust
1 1/2 graham cracker crumbs, (about 10 full sized cracker/ 1 wrapped package)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
for the filling
2 8oz packages cream cheese, not low fat, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Combine graham crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Press into pan to form the crust. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Cream the cream cheese at a low speed until very smooth. Add sugar, salt, flour, vanilla and lemon juice. Continue mixing until evenly combined. Add eggs and mix until just combined. Divide filling in half into two bowls. In the one bowl, mix pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. In the other bowl, mix in cardamom.
Grease the sides of the crust pan again if needed. Tilt the pan slightly to one side and pour in pumpkin filling. Pour cardamom filling into the other side of the pan, strategically tilting the pan as needed. Use a small spoon or butter knife to marble the two fillings together. Place spring form pan in a larger pan or baking dish. Fill with warm water to an inch below the top of the spring form pan.
Bake 40-60 minutes at 325 degrees until center is just set but wiggly and moist. Remove from oven, run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen from pan and cool in bath 10 minutes. Remove from bath and cool on a rack about an hour. Transfer to fridge and chill at least 6 hours or overnight. Pan sides can be removed before chilling if you prefer.