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How to Bake Using a Water Bath

Some recipes call for a “water bath” as part of the cooking instructions.  A water bath is simply a pan of hot water placed in the oven, and using this method has two benefits when baking.

First, a water bath adds moisture to the oven and this is important for baking foods like cheesecakes, which tend to crack from the heat of the oven, or custards which can become rubbery without moist heat.

Second, using the water bath method also provides a more even, slower heat source than the direct heat of an oven which is also important for preparing foods like cheesecakes and custards.

(For these instructions, we are using a water bath to bake a cheesecake. And, because springform pans are notorious for leaking, we are wrapping the bottom of the pan in foil to avoid any water from seeping into the pan which would make the cheesecake crust too wet.)

To bake using a water bath, you will need a baking pan that is large enough to hold a springform pan (or other baking dish), and is also large enough to allow for water to surround the springform pan.

Water bath baking method placing pan

Next, cut a large single sheet of aluminum foil, making sure that it is wide enough to surround all sides of your springform pan.  (We recommend using extra wide aluminum foil if it is available rather than two narrower pieces of foil to avoid any chance of leaking.)

Water bath baking method with tinfoil

Wrap the pan, making sure that the sides of the pan are fully covered by the foil.  Also make sure that you don’t tear the foil as you wrap it.

Water bath baking method with tinfoil

Per your recipe instructions, prepare your cheesecake and place the springform pan into the baking pan.  Then, add about an inch of very hot water to the baking pan so it surrounds the pan.  You want to add enough water to the pan to ensure that the water does not fully evaporate during the baking process.

Water bath baking method adding water

Bake according to your recipe instructions.  And…you should come out with a perfectly baked cheesecake with no cracks.

Water bath baking method baking

You may enjoy these recipes that use Water Bath Baking:

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    Comments

  • Czarmele Musa wrote:

    Hi im wondering is it safe to use water bath method if im using a gas oven? How many water should i put please?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Czarmele – Yes, a water bath is perfectly safe in a gas oven. In terms of how much water, it would depend on your recipe/pan size – you typically want enough water in the outside pan to come up between 1/2 to 1-inch up the size of the inner pan.

  • Jenny wrote:

    I have a question about using water bath, I’m baking a cheese cake require 150 degree Celsius . Do I put the hit water in when I preheat the oven? Or I put the hot water in when I put the cake to bake? It takes long time for the oven to get to 150. I thought something wrong with my oven, now I bought a new one. Still experiencing similar issue.
    Pls share time management tips with water bath?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jenny – We preheat our oven first without the pan of water inside. Then we pour the hot water in the pan around the cheesecake just before placing it in the oven to bake – so the water doesn’t have to heat up once it is placed in the oven. (I can’t speak to why your oven takes a long time to heat up in the first place…) Hope that helps!

  • Sheena wrote:

    Can I put water in separate tray inside oven while baking cheesecake

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Sheena – Great question. Yes – that can also work depending on the recipe. That approach raises the overall moisture level in the oven which can help prevent the cracking on top. Actually submerging the cheesecake in water lends a more in-direct heat to the cheesecake as it bakes. Hope that helps!

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