whenever you see a cheesecake that is high on the side and low in the middle, it’s a sure bet that the cake was not baked in a water bath. the problem with a cake baked this way is that the outside is dry and crumbly. with the cake baked in a water bath you have a creamy smooth cake from center to edge.
however, you do not need to bake in a springform. i have baked many many many (many) cheesecakes and I never use a springform. for one thing i like my cakes to be at least 3 inches high and the second is the leaking problem. if you line your regular cake pan with wax or parchment on the bottom your cake will come out with ease.
spray the pan with pam, line with waxed paper. bake. cool overnight. while cake is still cold rotate quickly over a hot burner for several seconds. then shake the pan back and forth until you hear a sucking sound that tells you the cake is loose from the bottom. with an offset spatula gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. flip onto a flat plate or round then flip back onto the final surface.
easy peasy. no kidding!