If I told you that you could top an already-baked gluten free sponge cake with cheesecake in the oven for another 45 minutes or so, and not risk overbaking the sponge cake, would you believe me? Well it’s true! The promise of a gluten free strawberry shortcake cheesecake was just, well, too good to pass up so I just went for it. I made a bunch of sponge cakes (they freeze so well!) and lined ’em up, then sacrificed a couple to my trial runs. I still don’t really understand how the sponge cake survives, and even thrives, but I guess the baking cheesecake batter keeps everything moist.
If you’ve never baked a sponge cake before, now’s the time. There is the small matter of the proper pans to use for both the sponge cake (a regular cake pan) and the shortcake-cheesecake (a springform pan). Since the sponge cake will shrink a bit during baking, you’ll need to bake it in a slightly larger pan than your springform pan—and then trim it to fit. You want a snug fit for baking the cheesecake, or the cheesecake batter run down the sides of the spongcake during baking. I used a 9-inch cake pan for the sponge cake, and an 8-inch round springform pan. You could also line a 9-inch springform pan with a couple of layers of foil to fill in that gap. The edges of the cake won’t be as clean, that’s all.
Sponge cake is nice and light and not overly sweet at all, and this cheesecake is relatively low-sugar. The method is actually quite simple, too, especially when you make the sponge cake ahead of time.
The result is a super summery, light and fluffy strawberry shortcake cheesecake that’s a real showstopper. And if you don’t want to bake the cheesecake on top? Try topping the sponge cake with my no-bake cheesecake filling. Just don’t forget the berries and cream!
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jelly, jam or preserves, melted
1 1/2 8-ounce packages (12 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 cup (29 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
Prepare the sponge cake according to the recipe instructions. If possible, bake in a 10-inch round pan, as the cake will shrink during baking. Otherwise, bake in a 9-inch round baking pan. Set aside to cool completely. The sponge cake can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, cooled and wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature, or frozen for longer storage. Defrost at room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
Trim the sponge cake. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan (if you used a 10-inch round cake pan to make the sponge cake), or an 8-inch round springform pan (if you used a 9-inch round cake pan). Using a serrated knife, trim the edge of the sponge cake to fit snugly in the springform pan. Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the sponge cake with the melted strawberry jelly, and place the sponge cake in the prepared springform pan.
Make the cheesecake layer. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine after each addition. The mixture should be thick and very smooth. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the sponge cake in the springform pan and spread it into an even layer with a spatula. Place the springform pan on a sheet of aluminum foil, and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the cheesecake is set, and has no more than a slight jiggle in the center when shaken gently from side to side (about 50 minutes). Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door slightly. Allow the cake to sit in the oven for 10 minutes before removing it and placing it in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes before unfolding the cake and allowing it to cool completely on the springform pan bottom.
Make the topping and assemble. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream and the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form (about 3 minutes). Spread the whipped cream on top of the cooled cake and top with the sliced strawberries. Slice and serve.
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