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When baking a Japanese cheesecake, I will occasionally get an incredible rise in the cheesecake - doubling or tripling in volume. During cooling, this falls back down to almost the original volume. However, other attempts will result in a much more sedate rise - with almost no collapse during cooling.

I'm using the recipe (and advice) as described by littleTeochew, available on the wayback machine.

I'm tempted to suspect the placement of the cheesecake adjacent to the waterbath rather than in it, but I have had both occur when the cheeseecake is adjacent to the water-bath.

Does anyone know why this occurs and how to prevent the over-rising?

  • Do you always use the same cake-pan and the same pre-heated oven? – Layna Nov 23 '17 at 12:05
  • Yes - the oven is a little uncertain, but I try to minimize this with an oven thermometer. – WannabeTetsu Nov 23 '17 at 22:36
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Building upon what @Joe already mentioned.

The cheesecake rises because as the temperature of the air trapped inside the mix goes up it tends to move upwards. This creates an effective spring force pushing the mix up. The hotter the oven, the stronger is the force since the bigger is the temperature gradient between the air inside of the mix and the top of the oven.

This phenomenon is sometimes called oven spring, especially among bread bakers (which by the way go crazy trying to maximize it!). As your mix cooks, it loses elasticity and become rigid. In the case of the cheesecake, this is mainly due to the coagulation of the egg proteins. Thus the oven spring effect takes place mainly in the initial cooking stage.

Different from bread bakers, you want to minimize this effect. The key for that is to have the eggs cooked with the least temperature gradient between the center of the mix and the top of the oven. Egg coagulates at around 70 degrees, so you don't really need high temperatures to make the cheesecake set.

One simple but laborious approach would be to start cooking the cheesecake at lower temperatures and only after it has set you to increase it to get browning on the top. One way of checking this is to shake it and see if the top moves or not, or to drill it with a toothpick. The water bath also helps to reduce the speed in which heat penetrates the mix since it effectively 'shields' the cake with a layer which has higher heat capacity.

  • Thanks very much! As a further question I've noticed that this oven spring is not immediate, and can occur as much as thirty minutes into the bake. This could possibly be due to a temperature imbalance gradually building up before the cake is set, possibly from overzealous use of baking paper to line the springform pan? – WannabeTetsu Nov 23 '17 at 22:37
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    @WannabeTetsu, I am not 100% sure but I don't think the baking paper is the problem. Temperature penetrates the cake through convection so as you remarked it takes a while until the center of the cake is completely cooked. So indeed this 'chimney' effect can occur at any point before it is set. Trying to keep a consistent temperature, maybe with the help of a water bath is the key. Another thing that might help is to slightly degas your mix by 'macaronning' it before going to the oven. This is an important step to avoid cracks in French macarons for example. – greedyscholars Nov 24 '17 at 1:50
  • Thanks! Because that also explains my inability to bake a cake that does NOT have a "dome"... which I never really investigated because it confused, but never disturbed me :). – Layna Nov 24 '17 at 6:37

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