Monday, December 5, 2011
This tall cake cannot be described any other way besides "statuesque". It stands a stunning 5" high - crowned with rosettes of piped whipped cream. It consists of a strawberry cheesecake layer sandwiched between two fluffy sponge cakes. It is not too sweet and very impressive in both appearance and taste.
I made this cake for Thanksgiving, since we are not big fans of pumpkin pie. It was so refreshing and light that it didn't weigh us down even after a huge meal! My sister's boyfriend doesn't usually like cheesecake but he went back for seconds of this one. I can't say enough to recommend this recipe.
Don't be deterred by the seemingly long and labor intensive recipe. While it does have a lot of steps, they are all easy. Essentially you are making 2 sponge cakes, 1 cheesecake and whipping some cream and slicing strawberries then assembling. It can be broken up over a few days. I made the cheesecake first (this can be made ahead and frozen) then the sponge cake. I whipped the cream just before assembling it on the same day it was served. Below is a picture of the first layer of cake, cream and strawberries, before the cheesecake layer gets put on.
The recipe comes from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook. It is one of their "Too Tall" recipes - aptly named as these are indeed skyscraping cakes!
Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake
tall 9" cake | Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook
10 oz (1 cup) frozen whole strawberries, thawed and drained well
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
For the sponge cake (2 layers):
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 extra large eggs, separated and at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp pure lemon extract
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp cream of tartar
to assemble and frost:
2 quarts fresh strawberries
1 tbsp unflavored granulated gelatin
3 tbsp cold water
1 quart heavy or whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of one 9-inch springform pan and two 9 inch round layer cake pans. Wrap the outside of the springform (but not the cake pans) with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Very important: line the bottom of all three pans with parchment or waxed paper (do not let the paper come up the sides).
2. Pulse the thawed strawberries in your food processor until smooth (you need 3/4 cup of puree). Stir in the 1 tsp of cornstarch and set aside. It will thicken slightly as it stands.
3. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Beat in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each. Beat in the cream just until it’s completely blended. Be careful not to overmix! Fold in the strawberry puree.
4. Gently spoon the batter into the springform, then place it in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake the cake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is set, about 1 ¼ hours. Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool in the pan for 2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, about 4 hours. Then freeze overnight until ready to assemble the cake.
5. While the cheesecake is cooling, make the sponge cake layers. Check that the oven is preheated to 350 degrees and that the water bath has been removed. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. While the mixer is still running, slowly add 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue beating until thick, light yellow ribbons form in the bowl, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no white flecks are visible. Blend in the melted butter.
6. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean medium size bowl and, using clean, dry beaters, beat the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then add the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks-they’ll disappear during baking. Divide the batter evenly between the two layer cake pans and bake until golden (not wet or sticky) and the center springs back when lightly pressed, about 12 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto the rack and gently peel off the paper liners. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or until ready to assemble the cake.
7. on the day you plan to assemble the cake, hull 1 quart of the strawberries, then cut them into 1/2 inch pieces (you need 2 cups). Reserve the remaining berries for decorating the cake.
8. Make the frosting. Place the gelatin in a heatproof measuring cup, stir in the cold water, and let stand until it swells and thickens. Cook in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds or over a pan of simmering water for about 1 minute, until clear and completely melted. In a medium size bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on high until it thickens and soft peaks just begin to form. With the mixer still running, add the sugar and beat just until the cream stands up in peaks (don’t overmix or the cream will curdle). Beat in the vanilla. Add the melted gelatin all at once and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Refrigerate the cream for at least 30 minutes (preferably no longer than 1 hour) in two bowls: 2 cups in a small bowl for piping decorations on the top of the cake and the remainder in a second larger bowl for frosting the cake. Meanwhile, remove the frozen strawberry cheesecake from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
9. Place one layer of the sponge cake, top side down, on a cake plate. Spread evenly with a thin layer of whipped cream frosting from the large bowl and half of the strawberry pieces. Release and remove the ring of the springform, then remove the frozen cheesecake from the bottom of the pan. Peel away the paper liner and place top side down on top of the frosted bottom layer. Press the cheesecake down gently, just enough so the two layers stick together but not enough for the filling to come out the sides. Top the cheesecake layer with some more whipped cream from the large bowl, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining strawberry pieces. Top with the second cake layer of sponge cake, top side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the whipped cream in the large bowl.
10. To decorate, hull the remaining quart of berries and halve them, from top to tip. Place a ring of berries around the bottom edge of the cake, tip ends up. Using 5 or 6 berry halves, make a star in the center of the cake, pointing the tips of the berries away from the center. Fit a pastry bag with a medium closed star tip or medium open star tip and fill the cream from the small bowl. Pipe shells or rosettes around the top edge of the cake and make a large rosette on top of the strawberry pieces.
11. Refrigerate the cake until serving time (it takes at least 2 hours to allow the cheesecake to thaw enough to slice easily. Use a sharp straight edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover and leftover cake and refrigerate.