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I have a recipe for a cheesecake that I'd like to double. Of course I would have to use a 9 X 13 pan and make it into bars (which I don't mind). It will eventually get covered with a chocolate mint ganache. With that in mind, how important is the water bath? Can I forgo it altogether (since it will be a 9 X 13 pan and hard to water bathe)? Or should I put a pan of water below the pan to help keep moisture in the oven?

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  • Just re-reading pan sizes and I probably won't need to double the recipe since a 9" springform pan is 10-12 cups and a 9 X 13 is 14 cups. But I still have the same water bath question.
    – Brooke
    Nov 24 '14 at 19:00
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The water bath for a cheesecake is to control the temperature of the thick custard in the springform pan (cheesecake is technically a custard) - you don't need to worry about the moisture of the oven in the absence of a water bath.

The equivalency you stated of your pan volumes is a problem, though. The two pans are not as comparable as your volumes suggest. The area of a 9" round pan (your springform) would be π x r² = 3.14 x (4.5")² = 64 in.² (roughly). The area of a 9" x 13" rectangular pan would be 9" x 13" = 117 in.² which is roughly twice the area of the springform pan. What that means is that the same volume of cheesecake filling would fill a 9" x 13" pan roughly half as full as a 9" springform pan.

Unless you have a huge amount of filling, the custard should set-up much more quickly in the larger pan and should not be as much of a problem to bring-up to temperature evenly like a thicker cheesecake in a springform pan. As long as you aren't planning to bake your bars in a scorching-hot oven and you remove them from the oven before they look fully set, you won't need the water bath.

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    +1 for this, I've never used a water bath for a baked cheesecake. Just turn the temp down.
    – Doug
    Nov 24 '14 at 20:15
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    Cheesecakes are typically baked at a relatively low temperature - like 325° F. Lowering the temperature won't give the equivalent result of baking in a water bath. The water bath provides a constant 212° F cushion that prevents the bottom and sides from overheating before the center of the custard is cooked. While a cheesecake cooked w/o a water bath will cook through, it can become porous on the inside and is likely to overcook on the sides and top. Cheesecakes that crack were usually not baked in a water bath. Nov 24 '14 at 20:29
  • @ Stephen, I was using joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html to get my information. It says a 9" springform is 10 cups for 2 1/2" deep and 12 cups for 3" deep. It also says a 9X13X2" rectangular pan is 14 cups (hence my comment about not doubling). As for the water bath, I was always taught it was to keep moisture in the oven so the top didn't crack. I never realized it was to keep the bottom and sides from overheating! That makes sense since the center is usually so thick.
    – Brooke
    Nov 24 '14 at 22:14
  • I would think that you'd want bars to be shorter (not as high?) as a normal pie (it's a custard pie, after all) ... but I might consider doubling the amount of crust so you have it sufficiently thick to support itelf.
    – Joe
    Nov 24 '14 at 22:14
  • @Brooke - I believe that the the information supplied by the Joy of Baking site means that the much taller springform holds about the same volume FULL as the much shorter rectangular. A shorter fatter glass can hold the same liquid as a taller skinny glass, but if you pour a fixed amount of water in each, it will not rise as high in the fatter glass. The Joy of Baking total volume data is immaterial when comparing how each pan holds a fixed volume of batter. You aren't filling up the different pans, you are considering how a fixed amount of custard will fill pans with different shapes. Nov 24 '14 at 23:40

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