What, no flour?

Nope. True, more than a few cheesecake recipes call for at least a little flour or corn starch. The reason for this is twofold. First, to absorb moisture. I’ve mentioned that cream cheese is 45% fat. The other 55% is mostly water. Add in a fair amount of cream or sour cream (which also have quite a bit of water) and you can get a small amount of weeping. The starch helps bind this water up before it can collect and run out of the cake. This recipe has enough egg in it that weeping won’t be a problem. For a still more delicate cheesecake you can take out one of the eggs, though there will be a little puddling. Just dab it up with a paper towel.

But where was I? Oh, right: the second reason for starch. The second reason to add starch to a cheesecake is as an insurance policy against curdling or cracking. Mixed into a custard — and yes, cheesecake is a custard — starch molecules get between protein molecules and prevent them from bunching up (the action that creates curds, squeezes out moisture and causes separation). The trouble is that those same starch molecules result in a — surprise, surprise — starchy, slightly chalky taste and texture. For my money, the best insurance against cracking and curdling is a water bath.

For more on the science of custards check out this series of posts right here.

2 thoughts on “What, no flour?”

  1. Rose Levy Beranbaum uses 3 eggs in her recipe. (Yours and hers are almost the same except for that.) She says if you don’t want any weeping at all, replace the 3 whole eggs with 6 yolks. That made me curious. How would the all-yolk cheesecake reduce puddling?

    1. Hey Catherine!

      The reason is because egg white proteins curdle at a lower temperature…about 140 degrees Fahrenheit normally. Added fat and sugar raise that temperature quite a bit, but white proteins are the ones that clump up first when a cheesecake gets overheated. When that happens they squeeze out water and, well, there you go. Removing them altogether eliminates a lot of that risk, though in my opinion it creates a too-dense cheesecake. But what do I know? If you try it please write back and let me know what you think!


      – Joe

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