A water bath, also known as a bain marie, is the baker’s secret to creamy cheesecake perfection. It's also a wonderful way to bake custard or bread pudding. All you need for a water bath is a deep roasting pan and foil.
Preheat oven to the temperature required for your recipe. Wrap springform pan (or other pan) in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Arrange a dish towel in the bottom of a heavy roasting pan.
Add crust to the bottom of springform pan and bake according to your recipe instructions. Remove from oven and set in prepared roasting pan (on dish towel). Bring a kettle or saucepan of water to boil.
Add cheesecake filling to the baked crust. Transfer the roasting pan (with unbaked cheesecake on dish towel) to an oven rack.
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake cheesecake according to recipe instructions.
Follow recipe instructions, or let cheesecake cool in the roasting pan for 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, about 2 ½ to 3 hours longer. Run a knife around the inside edge of the springform pan about once per hour to loosen the cake.
Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a kitchen towel wet with hot water around the cake pan for 1 minute. Remove the sides of the pan and carefully slide the cake onto a cake platter.