The other day, I made my first cheesecake in more than five years. I used to make them all the time, and by the time I met The Husband, I had mastered the Ruggles Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake. Through trial and error, I had learned the best water bath techniques, the right amount of time to soften cream cheese before mixing it, and so on. I was a cheesecake MASTER. No cracks here, baby.
And then something happened. Maybe I lost interest. Maybe I joined Weight Watchers. Maybe I got married and had a kid and started my PhD and had another kid and only had time for cookie baking. I don’t know. All I know is that I fell out of practice and when I got a wild hair to make a pumpkin cheesecake the other day, I pounced on the opportunity.
Making a cheesecake after a long hiatus isn’t like riding a bike. I didn’t have the confidence I once had. While my batter was smooth, there was a clump of unincorporated cream cheese at the bottom of my mixing bowl (that’s one of my biggest complaint about the KitchenAid: the whisk attachment tends to push stuff to the bottom of the bowl rather than incorporating it all). I tried to manually mix it in, but was unsuccessful. The result is that the top part of the cheesecake is dotted with small globs of cream cheese, rather than a consistent custard. Annoying but not tragic.
This is a pretty tasty cheesecake. I used Paula Deen’s recipe, and adapted the crust by using cinnamon graham crackers and swapping out the ground cinnamon with ground ginger. I also baked the cheesecake for an hour and 20 minutes, and then left it in the oven with the door cracked open while the oven cooled down. (This is called “carryover cooking.”) While I didn’t set the cake itself in a water bath, I did put a pan with water in the oven (which was dumb; next time, I’ll do a legit water bath).
I would call this a mostly successful cheesecake, but next time (I’m pretty sure I’m going to make the Ruggles cake soon) I will make sure all the cream cheese gets incorporated. It’s pretty embarrassing to hand your friends a slice of unintentionally polka-dotted dessert.