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I remember the first cheesecake I attempted from scratch. It was for my husband’s birthday and like every birthday for as long as he can remember, he requested New York-Style Cheesecake. I always bake our kids’ birthday cakes so I decided I was going to do the same for Mike. He knows the perils involved in baking cheesecake, as his mother made one for his birthday with varying success over the years but he appreciated the effort no matter the results.
I pulled out my 10-inch springform pan and followed the recipe. I had an ancient oven and I blame it for the burnt, chalky mess that my first cheesecake was. It looked like a Basque cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Not the silky, cream-colored version I was going for. The show must go on so we lopped off the top half of the cheesecake and ate the bottom half. Regardless, I felt proud of myself for attempting it.
Nordic Ware 51842 7-Inch Leakproof Springform Pan
Can keep water out during baking
Very nonstick and easy to remove ring
Have to hand wash
Thankfully, every year since has resulted in better-than-burnt results but I still had problem areas. I’m a firm believer in the water bath method but the only pan that could fit the springform pan was my large roasting pan. It was awkward to carry and took a lot of water to fill and no matter how well I wrapped my pan in foil, my crust would often end up soggy, but that didn’t stop us from eating every slice.
After so many years of polishing off every scrap, Mike asked if I could make a smaller cheesecake. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of that myself! Springform pans come in all sizes. I researched and found a Nordic Ware 7-inch springform pan perfectly sized for a small, family celebration. Plus, it fits in my Instant Pot so I could finally try Instant Pot Cheesecake.
Once I received the new pan, I immediately noticed how sturdy it felt in my hands. The ring nestles snugly in the base that extends slightly beyond it. The latch feels solid and snaps tightly. Removing the ring is stress-free with the PFOA-free nonstick surface. I didn’t want to have to coat the pan before filling it, so a nonstick surface was important to me. When ready to serve, unlatch and glide the ring up and off the base. I can even use the base for serving and save myself the hassle of transferring it to a different plate.
I couldn’t wait to give it a try. The smaller pan uses half the ingredients, saving money on this decadent dessert and fits inside a 9 x 13-inch pan. I love not having to dig out the roasting pan. The water bath is lighter and more manageable when carrying from the oven to the counter. Plus, it uses less water.
I followed all the same steps I do every year. I wrapped the springform pan in foil, made the same graham cracker crust, and brought all the ingredients for the cheesecake filling to room temperature. I poured the filling into the pan and swirled raspberry jam onto the top. I placed the cheesecake in the 9 x 13-inch pan, added hot water and placed it in the oven.
Another bonus to the smaller size is that it baked more quickly. Once the cheesecake was mostly set and still had a jiggle in the center, I turned off the oven and opened the door to let it cool down slowly. I carefully removed it from the oven and took the foil off the pan and continued cooling it. When it got to room temperature, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and chilled it in the refrigerator overnight. So far, so good.
The next day, I unlatched the ring and couldn’t wait to take a bite. The crust was firm instead of soggy and the filling was silky and perfectly set. I was thrilled!
Cheesecake really is worth making from scratch, and an amazing pan makes it even easier.
Material: Steel with nonstick coating | Sizes: 7 inches, 9 inches | Capacities: 7 cups, 10 cups | Dishwasher Safe: No
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Rachel Knecht is a recipe developer, food writer, and recipe tester based in Seattle. Her recipes and writing have appeared on Simply Recipes and she began writing for Spruce Eats in 2022.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Technical Fact Sheet - Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). November 2017.