Strawberry Vanilla Buttercream Cheesecake Shortcake – This over-the-top cake was a big hit at one of our recent sips-n-nibbles get-togethers with friends. A pound cake bottom gets topped by a whole, crust-less vanilla cheesecake before being crowned with whole ripe strawberries and completely covered in velvety Italian buttercream frosting. This one takes decadent to a whole new level. I’m sure you know some one who would deserve such a decadent celebration cake at your next special occasion.
If you don’t want the fuss of the Italian Buttercream Frosting (but it is worth the effort) you can easily use whipped cream instead to finish the cake.
Grease and flour a 10 inch cake pan. I use the same spring form pan that I bake the cheesecake portion in to get them exactly the same size.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
Add, one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffy:
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Fold dry ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with
- 1/2 cup milk
beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Rely on the toothpick test to ensure that it is properly baked. Cool completely.
Vanilla Cheesecake Layer
I bake my cheesecakes in a 10 inch spring form pan that has the bottom and sides wrapped in multiple layers of wide heavy duty aluminum foil which forms a sort of boat that the cheesecake pan sits in. The roll of aluminum foil that I use is about 16 inches wide. I use at least 4 layers of foil to make sure that no water leaks in and ruins the crust of my cheesecake. The aluminum foil wrapped pan is then placed inside a larger baking pan; I use a 12 inch cake pan. Boiling water is then poured into the larger pan filling it from 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top.
I find it best to pour the boiling water into the pan after it is placed on the rack in the oven as you are less likely to splash water onto the cheesecake or inside the aluminum foil. I reuse the aluminum foil for several future cheesecakes, adding a couple of layers to it each time just to be safe.
Even if you choose not to use a water bath method, wrapping the outside of your spring form pan with 4 or 5 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil will greatly help the even distribution of heat through your cheesecake as it bakes, making it more evenly creamy from edges to middle.
- 3 eight ounce packages ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
Add, one at a time:
- 3 eggs
beating well after each addition. Add:
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
Finally blend in:
- 1 cup whipping cream
Pour over the prepared base and bake in a bain marie at 300 degrees F for 55 minutes to an hour. The cheesecake does not have to brown at all in order to be fully baked; the surface of the cheesecake should lose any shine when the cake is properly baked. It can still be slightly wobbly just at the center at this point.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp knife completely around the edge of the pan. This will allow for the cheesecake to shrink as it cools and hopefully not crack (but who cares if it does? I am never bothered by a crack or two in the surface) Allow the cheesecake to cool thoroughly on a wire rack at room temperature. (NOT in the fridge). Refrigerate for several hours after fully cooled down until the cheesecake firms up well.
Italian Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
Combine and bring to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile beat together to stiff peaks:
- 6 egg whites at room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Slowly pour in the sugar syrup hitting the side of the bowl and not the beaters. Continue beating the frosting for 10-15 minutes until the meringue is completely cool. I dip my mixing bowl into ice water several times during this time to help with the cooling process and speed it up a little. When completely cool, slowly begin to add, a few tablespoons at a time
- 2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cooler than room temperature works best
Beat until smooth after each addition. As the frosting cools to room temperature it will come together like stiffly whipped cream. Be careful not to over beat at this point or your frosting can separate. As soon as the textural change occurs, stop beating the frosting. You may have to chill it in the fridge for a few minutes before using, just to firm it up a little.
Clean, trim and pat dry with paper towels
- 2 pints fresh ripe strawberries (small to medium sized berries work best)