You don’t even have to worry about cracks.

By Bridget Hallinan
July 23, 2020
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A tangy, creamy slice of cheesecake is perfect on its own. Topped with sweetened sour cream and homemade berry sauce? Even better. Enter the cover star of our August 2020 issue, a St. Louis-style cheesecake, which comes from chef Andrae Bopp. The dessert is based on his great-grandmother’s recipe and is ideal for summer, when fresh berries are in abundance—it’s also pretty low-stress, since you don’t have to worry about cracking (you’ll see why in a minute.) In the end, you’ll have a show-stopping dessert you’ll want to make all season long.

Check out some helpful tips for pulling off the cheesecake, compiled from Bopp’s recipe and the Food & Wine Test Kitchen.

Grab a Measuring Cup

You can always use your hands to press the crust mixture into the springform pan. However, we’ve also found that using the bottom of a measuring cup can help you achieve a more flat, even surface.

Fold in the Beaten Egg Whites

In the second step of the recipe, you beat the cream cheese, egg yolks, granulated sugar, and vanilla in one bowl, and the egg whites separately in another bowl until stiff peaks form. Then, you fold—not beat—the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture “in three additions.” Folding ensures the batter will retain its airiness.

…and Dollop That Batter

In the recipe headnote, Bopp recommends gently dolloping the batter into the pan with a spoon. You can pour it in instead if you want, but dolloping will also help preserve the air and volume in the batter, just like folding in the egg whites.

Don’t Worry About Cracks

Pulling a cheesecake out of the oven and finding a cracked top can be frustrating. Luckily, in this case, you’re covering the cake both with a layer of sweetened sour cream and homemade berry sauce—so if even if there do end up being cracks, you certainly won’t see them.

You start by baking the cheesecake initially for 22 to 25 minutes at 375°F, until the “filling is puffed and the top begins to dry out.” Then you add the brown-sugar-vanilla-sour cream topping and bake some more. This helps add some moisture to the cake and prevent cracks, too.

Look for the Wobble

After adding the sour cream layer, Bopp instructs you to bake the cheesecake again for 18 to 22 minutes, until the center is set, but still a little wobbly. You can check by giving the cheesecake (carefully, using oven mitts) a gentle shake to see if it barely jiggles.

The Simplest Berry Sauce

The gorgeous berry topping on this cheesecake is really easy to make. All you need are berries and sugar—since berries naturally contain pectin (a natural gelling agent), they’ll form a simple sauce. However, you can also just top the cheesecake with fresh berries if you want to skip this step.

Speaking of Berries

This recipe calls for blueberries or huckleberries, but you can use whatever berry is fresh and available to you. Blackberries and raspberries would be delicious, too.

Make It Ahead to Enjoy Any Time

If you want to prepare the cheesecake in advance, it can be made up to one day beforehand and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Once you’re ready to serve, grab the berry sauce, spoon it over the top, and cut yourself a generous slice (or two).