Friday, April 1, 2011

The Cheater's Guide to the Perfect Slice

Of cheesecake that is...

photo by Renee Anjanette

When I first started food styling I sweated over every slice of cake.  It sounds simple, right?  What's the big deal?   Just bake a cake, frost it, cut out a slice and slap it on a plate.   Not so fast, my little chickadees.  There are a million things that can go wrong with that slice.  Your cut might be far from perpendicular, your layers might smash together and ooze filling everywhere, the interior of your cake might be riddled with air bubbles.  These things sound like small problems, but they can turn into fatal flaws under the unforgiving eye of the camera.   If you think regular cake slices are, ahem, a piece of cake, then try wrapping your brain around a crack-prone, wobbly soft cheesecake.  Here are a few tips on styling the perfect slice of cheesecake:

1.  Always wrap the bottom of the spring form in a layer of foil that hangs over the outer ring.   Wrap the excess foil up and around the outer ring.  This layer of foil allows you to easily remove your finished cheesecake from the bottom of the pan once it's baked.  

2.  Add one or two packets of dissolved gelatin to your cheesecake filling before you bake it.  Make sure the gelatin is fully dissolved and mix it thoroughly into the liquid filling.  

3.  Wrap the entire exterior of the spring form in 3 or four layers of foil.  This is to prevent water from seeping in while baking (you'll see what I mean in step four).  

4.  If you don't want your cheesecake to crack, set the spring form in a deep-ish baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven.  Immediately fill the tray with boiling hot water.  Bake for the amount of time specified in the recipe.  

5.  Allow the cheesecake to cool slowly (you may have to leave it in the oven with the door closed for an hour or more).  Once it has come to room temp, you're going to want to chill it in the fridge for a few hours before you attempt a slice.  Sometimes I rush this step by popping it in the freezer, but a cheese cake is something you definitely want to make on your prep day!!  

6.  It is helpful to find the center of your cake and compose your slice with bamboo skewers before you make the actual cut.  Heat up your knife blade in a glass of hot water and slice firmly and confidently   Always clean your blade before attempting the second cut.  You may have to cut out excessive amounts of cake on either side of your hero slice in order to remove it from the round undamaged.  

Happy Styling!

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  1. I just want to eat that piece of cheesecake, while chatting with someone who is following all your directions.

  2. I know! It's mush more fun to eat it than to make it...