In essence it’s baking, with water.
For those of you who have attempted cheesecakes, and had them crack of fall- this is why: too dry…
An oven is a really dry environment and we all know what dry environments create: evaporation.
Before I bake my crust, (which I always do before I add my cheesecake filling) I wrap the bottom and sides of the pan tightly in aluminum foil. Then, after it’s baked and cooled, and the filling is added, I set the pan in a large roasting pan, centered. I pour (around the cheesecake pan, into the roasting pan) a kettle of boiling water.
(The pan is VERY heavy at this point so, if you feel you can’t lift it to put it in the oven, you should probably already have the cheesecake-in-roasting-pan combo sitting on a pulled out oven rack, ready to slide in once the water’s been poured.)
I then bake my cake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. at 90 minutes I turn the oven off, stick the handle of a wooden spoon to prop the oven door open a bit and set my timed for another 60 minutes. The result is a tall, perfect cheesecake EVERY time…
Water Bathing can also work with cakes, bundt cakes, and cupcakes. The way to water bath for cupcakes or muffins (which I a lot) is to alternate the muffin cups with badder and water. The results can be pretty fantastic!