I’m a Cheesecake lover, and I finally took the plunge and made my first Cheesecake, after vowing to do so years ago. I used the supposedly “Perfect” Cheesecake recipe and followed it pretty closely, except in reducing the sugar used by more than half (Americans have sweet tooth). The result was really better than expected for a maiden attempt. It is more moist than i would like it to be, but otherwise, it is just like any store-bought Cheesecake.
There are a few tools needed to make Cheesecake – a mixer of course (i used a cheap hand-held one – you can easily get one for under S$30), a Springform pan and a pan for the water bath. Without a doubt, Taobao is the best source for bakery equipment. I checked a local bakery supply shop just out of curiosity, and as expected, baking pans cost a lot more (something like 3 times more, though better quality) from there.
The Springform pan i bought was a cheapish one, at 30 Yuan (S$6.50). It feels a little flimsy but works fine. The only gripe i have is that it has a lot of crevices which are hard to clean. I think the size (8 inch) is just right for making a Cheesecake.
It took me 3 trials (yes i bought 3 pans) to find a pan of the right size for the water bath. It has to be metal, obviously, since it has to go into the oven. Coincidentally, China produces a lot of low cost stainless steel products, like i mentioned before, and a stainless steel tray is the cheapest kind of metallic container you will be able to find on Taobao.
If you bought the Springform pan mentioned above, then the tray size 36cm X 27cm X 4.8cm will hold the Springform pan just nice and should be able to fit into most ovens. This cost me – no kidding, only 6.4 Yuan (S$1.40). The domestic shipping cost was 8 Yuan, more than the cost of the item itself! I would have bought a few more trays to better utilize the shipping cost if i hadn’t already gotten the other 2 before this one. These trays look great for serving food when you have a large gathering at your place, and since they cost so little, it doesn’t hurt to have a few of them sitting in your kitchen cabinet.
i also bought two other items from Taobao in preparation for this Cheesecake project – a cake server and a cake demolding scraper. These are completely optional items you can do without, but i like the cake demolding scraper. The recipe site suggested using a blunt knife to demold the cake, but i wouldn’t want to use that on my non-stick pan. The cake server, on the other hand, was too brittle and broke this very first time i used it. I still think it is a pretty cool idea, and perhaps there are better quality ones out there.
Ultimately, the cost of the main ingredient of Cheesecake – cream cheese, is the main deterrent to having Cheesecake often (well, there is a cost to your health also). All in, the cake cost about S$20 to make. A similar store-bought cake would have cost at least S$50. Well, i’m glad another item has been struck off my DIY projects bucket list, and i probably won’t be paying S$6 for a slice of Cheesecake from a Cafe in a long long time to come.