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The purpose of the water is to cook the custard slowly- essentially poaching it. It takes out some insurance against it overheating and breaking. Suspending the cheesecake over the water would not have the same effect- steam can get hotter than the curdling temperature of eggs. It would be a thermal mass that might even out some temperature variation in ...


I have to disagree with Sobachatina in this case: the thermal mass is not the sole purpose of the water bath. Cheesecakes are prone to cracking, because the moisture of the outer layer of the filling evaporates. They don't just form a skin the way a standard custard would, they get dry enough to crack later. So, if you just suspend the cheesecake, you get ...

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