In Pursuit of the Perfect Cheesecake in my Instant Pot
By Amy Dressel
So, let us deviate from the normal path of fiber musings in this blog, to talk about cheesecake. Why? Because I like cheesecake, and I love my Instant Pot, and my Instant Pot makes awesome cheesecake, with a little help from me.
I’ve been perfecting my recipe, and needed a platform by which to share my findings, so I’ve hijacked the blog for this most honorable of diversions from the norm.
The goal: A classic cheesecake. Tangy, not too sweet flavor. Crust that snaps when you put your fork into it. The cake texture should be creamy and velvety, no lumps, and no air bubbles. I glaze it with some sweetened sour cream, this makes a lovely white glaze for the top, and covers any imperfections. Really brings the presentation up a notch. If you are going to top it with fruit you can skip the glaze.
The 2 big rules to follow. Thou shalt not over mix and thou shalt not over bake. They both create a higher cake with a more airy or spongy texture. It takes some faith to take it out when it’s all loose and jiggly, but it makes for a much better taste and texture.
In the pictures the “good” cake does slope down in the center. That is my fault for cutting it when it was still warm, and the tip oozed out. Once it was fully chilled it held its shape.
After about 5 trials. this is the recipe I came up with, including my copious notes. Notes first.
Your cream cheese, sour cream and eggs need to be at room temperature. The goal is to get a smooth texture with as little stirring as possible after adding the eggs. If you do have some lumps, let them be. The lumps are much better then an airy texture from incorporating too much eggs.
The sour cream was my nemesis when it came to lumps. In order to fix this I would stir the sour cream well before adding it into the cream cheese mixture.
For the crust, I decided to bake it. You can skip this, and just freeze it before adding the filling, but you won’t get that lovely crisp crust I wanted. I also got much better results with Nabisco Graham Crackers then I did with the Aldi brand I tried. I get a very fine crumb by putting the crackers in a zip-lock bag and rolling it with a rolling pin until it is evenly crushed. I used to make this with less sugar and butter, but the crust is much crisper if you use the full amount.
For the pan: I used a 6″ pan. You can use 7″, but I don’t know exactly how much time you should cook it for then. I would also make sure the crust is only up the side one inch if you use a 7″ pan.
I want to keep as much moisture out of the crust as I can. Lining the inside of the pan with foil has worked the best for this. If I don’t use the foil, water seems to come up through the bottom of the pan. Lining the outside of the pan still allowed moisture to run down the pan inside the foil and make my crust soggy.
I put the cream cheese in a bowl, and put it in the 300 degree oven for 4 minutes to make sure it is really soft. This is after letting it sit out an hour.
Make the topping and let it sit out at room temperature while the cake cooks, so the topping is runny and goes on like a glaze.
Classic Cheesecake with Sour Cream
6″ spring form pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3 Tablespoons salted butter
2 Tablespoon brown sugar.
3/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers. (I put them in a bag and roll them with a rolling pin)
Melt the butter in the dish, add in the sugar and stir, then add the crumbs and mix until it is evenly coated with butter.
Put in the foil lined pan (see notes above), and press it evenly across the bottom and 1″ up the side. Maybe 1.5″ at the most, but you want to make sure no crust is above the level of the batter as it will get soggy. I use a cup to make sure I get sharp edges and a tight pack.
Put in oven for 10 minutes, then cool in the freezer or fridge.
2 (8 oz each) packages of cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup sour cream, room temperature and stirred well
2 eggs, room temperature and not beaten or stirred. You can prick the yolk to make incorporating easier.
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream the cheese, then add the sugar and mix well with a mixer (I used a hand mixer for all the creaming and mixing) Scrape bowl and mix a bit more.
Add in the sour cream and vanilla, Use mixer to incorporate. Scrape bowl well (including the bottom).
Now take your mixer and put it far away from you. You must not use it anymore!
Add in the eggs, and stir as little as you can to mix them in.
Then take that bowl, and bang it on the counter or floor at least 30 times. This will get as many air bubbles as you can out.
Pour into the finished crust in your spring form cake pan. Cover loosely with foil
Put a cup of water in your Instant Pot. Put in the trivet. Then put in your cake.
Close and set for 32 minutes, high pressure. If you do not cover your cheesecake with foil it will take less time to cook. If you use a 7″ pan it may take a few minutes more. I have plans to test those methods to find the right time, and will update once I do so.
It will take about 5 minutes to get to pressure, then after cooking about 8 minutes to natural release. Do not do a quick release with this. Take off the foil, and remove from the pot.
All but the outer 1.5-2″ of the cake will still be jiggly. It will set up once it is chilled, and this gives you the best possible texture.
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons sugar
Mix together. poor over top of hot cheesecake as soon as you remove it from the Instant Pot.
Let it cool naturally on the counter for at least an hour. Putting it in the fridge can make for a soft crust. Leave it in pan until it’s cool. Then run a knife around the edge above the crust level. Gently open the pan and lift it off. If it is going to crack, it will most likely do so right at the join of the pan, so be very careful of that area while opening it. Put cake in fridge to cool for ideally 6 hours.
Have you made cheese cake in your Instant Pot? What tricks and tips do you have for getting the best cheesecake?
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