Two in one strawberry cheesecake cake that tastes as good as it looks! Made with layers of moist vanilla cake, fresh strawberries and no-bake strawberry cheesecake filling. This vibrant cake is iced with cream cheese frosting and topped with crunchy crumbles and fresh berries.
Nothing screams summer louder than fresh strawberries. Without exaggeration, I probably go through a pound of them every other day in summer. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, so I want to share all my best strawberry recipes with you guys. Starting with last week's Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi recipe, I am dedicating this summer to strawberries!
If you love strawberries as much as I do, then this cheesecake cake is the dessert for you! Hands down the best summery treat, this strawberry shortcake cheesecake is extremely light, fragrant, and full of flavour.
Why this cake is simply amazing
The best part of this recipe is that it's basically two desserts merged into one: strawberry cake and strawberry cheesecake. The no-bake cheesecake is hidden inside the cake and takes this shortcake to a whole new level.
The cheesecake has a rich all-natural strawberry flavour and is cushioned with fresh strawberries and homemade compote. This amazing strawberry core is layered between two super soft and moist vanilla cake. The cake is light as a feather and melts in your mouth, which works perfectly with the creamy cheesecake. Last but not least, the crunchy crumbles make this strawberry shortcake cake taste exactly like a cheesecake.
This strawberry cheesecake cake is:
- Two desserts into one: cake and strawberry cheesecake
- Fresh, light and moist
- Perfect celebration of summer seasonal flavours
- One of a kind showstopper
- As beautiful as it is tasty
- The perfect replica of a cheesecake in a cake
The cake layers
Moist vanilla cake - the top and bottom layers of the strawberry cheesecake cake. Made using a foolproof technique, this cake is incredibly soft and melts in your mouth. You can use this vanilla cake recipe for any other types of cakes.
No-bake strawberry cheesecake - rich and creamy cheesecake made with fresh strawberries. Use this no-bake cheesecake recipe on its own or inside a cake!
Cream cheese frosting - used to ice the entire cake, in between the cake layers and on top for the piped decoration. This frosting is silky smooth, creamy and very light.
Fresh strawberries & strawberry compote - slices of fresh fruit placed on a layer of homemade compote. This layer adds extra moisture, as well as packs intense strawberry flavour. You can substitute the compote with strawberry jam.
Crunchy crumble - used on the top of the cake and on the sides to add extra crunchiness. This element is a playful take on the traditional cheesecake graham cracker crust.
This recipe has a few larger elements: vanilla cake, no-bake strawberry cheesecake, cream cheese frosting and crunchy crumbles. It's easier to think of them as separate elements for the ingredients and step by step recipe. Make sure you weigh all ingredients separately for each element, so you don't get confused between them.
Cake flour - it's important to use it instead of plain flour as it yields a much softer cake. Cake flour is also known as flour type 000. You can still use plain white flour instead, but the cake will not be as light.
Butter - used to coat the flour in a layer of fat. This will prevent the gluten inside the flour from developing, resulting in a super soft cake. You cannot substitute butter for anything else in this recipe.
Vegetable oil - used to make the cake really moist. Choose an oil that has no flavour, such as sunflower or canola (rapeseed) oil.
Strawberries - the star ingredient in this recipe. Use organic, high quality strawberries for maximum flavour. Fresh strawberries are used in the cheesecake, compote, inside the cake and on top as decoration.
Gelatine - very important in setting the cheesecake. Since the cheesecake is inside the cake, it needs a setting agent so it can support the weight of the top layer. The recipe below uses powder gelatine, but you can also use gelatine sheets (9g / 1 tablespoon powder = 4 sheets), vegan gel or agar agar.
Biscuits or cookies - you can use any type. I recommend Lotus Biscoff, petit beurre, malted milk biscuits or graham crackers. For best results use crunchy biscuits.
Freeze dried strawberries - used in the crumble to add natural colour and flavour. Do not replace it with fresh strawberries, as they will make the crumble soggy. If you do not have freeze dried strawberries, replace with strawberry jelly or leave out entirely.
How to make strawberry cheesecake cake
It's much easier to read this recipe as having different elements. I recommend making the no-bake cheesecake and vanilla cake the day before. This way the cheesecake has time to set, and the cake can chill in the fridge overnight. Now let's begin!
No-bake strawberry cheesecake
- Soak the gelatine powder in warm milk (not hot) for 10 minutes. Add strawberries to a blender and pulse into puree. Once the gelatine has set, microwave it for 10 seconds to liquify it once more. Add in the gelatine to the strawberry puree.
- Whip the cream cheese until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Fold in strawberry puree into the cream cheese until fully combined.
- Pour into cheesecake mould and let set in the fridge overnight.
Important: do not skip the gelatine. The no-bake cheesecake needs to be firm enough to support the top layer of cake. The cheesecake needs to set in the fridge overnight for a minimum of 6-8 hours.
Pro tip: ensure the cheesecake pan is the same size as the cake pan you will be using. I recommend using either a cake ring or springform pan.
Moist vanilla cake
This recipe is similar to a white cake, as it yields a very soft and pale cake. The secret to making an extremely soft cake is in the sequencing of ingredients. The technique is inspired by Sugar Geek Show.
- Unlike most cakes, the butter needs to be rubbed into the cake flour. This process coats the flour particles in a layer of fat, which prevents gluten from being developed. Use a mixer and mix the room temperature butter with the flour. The mixture should look like wet sand. At this point it shouldn't be too sticky.
- Next up, add milk and oil and beat the mixture for 2 full minutes. Don't worry, mixing for so long will not make your cake hard. If using plain flour, only mix for 1 minute, to prevent gluten from developing.
- For the final mixing, add the remaining ingredients and mix on low. There's no need to mix for too long now, only enough to combine all the ingredients. After mixing, the batter should look like buttercream.
- Pour the batter into two 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans that have been lined and greased properly. Pro tip: use cake strips on both pans to get a really flat top.
Pro tip: I recommend making the cake the day before, so it has time to rest in the fridge. Resting the cake will make it even more moist and also much easier to cut into.
Cream cheese frosting
This variation of cream cheese frosting has more body and is similar to buttercream, just much less sweeter. Get the full recipe and detailed instructions for my White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
Here's a recap:
- Melt white chocolate in the microwave and let it cool to room temp.
- Whip the butter until pale and fluffy.
- Add in the cream cheese and melted chocolate and combine.
- Place the frosting in a piping bag and use immediately.
Pro tip: ensure the butter and cream cheese are cold. If the frosting gets too liquid after mixing, pop it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before adding it to the piping bag.
Pro tip 2: make sure the white chocolate is fully melted to avoid any lumps. After melting, let it cool down to room temperature before adding it into the butter.
Assembling the cake
Once all the components of the shortcake cheesecake cake are ready, we can begin assembling it:
- Place the first layer of vanilla cake on the bottom. Pipe a ring of cream cheese frosting on the perimeter of the layer.
- Add the strawberry compote (or jam) and thinly sliced fresh strawberries. Add a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the strawberries to seal them in.
- Carefully place the fully set no-bake strawberry cheesecake on top. Press gently to make it stick to the cream cheese icing.
- Repeat step number 2 and pipe a ring of frosting on the edges. Add strawberry compote and fresh strawberries.
- Seal in the strawberries with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting, levelling with a spatula.
- Place the top layer of cake it on top of the frosting. Set everything in the fridge to set for a minimum of 2-3 hours.
Pro tip 1: I highly recommend using a tall, adjustable cake ring for this stage, so the cake can come out perfectly straight.
Pro tip 2: Thoroughly chill the cake once all the layers are in place. The frosting needs to be as solid as possible before decorating. I recommend minimum 3-4 hours in the fridge or 1-2 hours in the freezer.
Decorating the cake
Apart from eating them, my favourite part in baking cakes is decorating them. For this shortcake cheesecake cake we will be piping cream cheese frosting on top, adding crunchy crumbles and fresh berries. Here's how I made my cake looks so dainty and elegant.
- Cover the entire cake in cream cheese frosting. Level everything out with a spatula to give it a smooth finish. You can use either 1 layer of frosting for a 'naked cake' look or 2 layers for full coverage. If using 2 layers, chill for 1 hour between coats.
- Fit the piping bag with a cupcake star nozzle. Angle the nozzle at 45 degrees, then pipe in a swirling motion around the top perimeter of the cake.
- Add some strawberry compote or jam inside the circle you've created with the frosting. Sprinkle the crunchy cheesecake crumbles on top.
- Add more crumbles on the bottom of the cake or as desired. Decorate the top with fresh strawberries and other berries.
- Chill, chill, chill. It's crucial the cheesecake is fully set before adding it into the cake. Similarly, ensure the cake has chilled in the fridge for at least 2 hours before slicing. This way you will get perfect slices every time.
- Keep it natural. Artificial flavours will never taste as delicious as the real thing, so please use fresh strawberries. Similarly, for the crumble it's best to use dried strawberries instead of strawberry jello powder.
- Level the layers. This goes for both the vanilla cake and cheesecake. If necessary, cut the cake slices to have them flat.
- Make it easy on yourself. The easiest way to get a perfectly straight cake is to use a cake ring. As the cake is quite creamy inside, the cake ring will hold it in place until the frosting sets in the fridge.
Frequently asked questions
Store in the fridge inside a cake cover for up to 3 days. If you do not have a cake cover, ensure there are no pungent smells inside the fridge (such as onion).
No, for this strawberry cheesecake recipe it's essential to use full fat cream cheese, as it's much firmer.
I do not recommend freezing cake slices, as the frosting can become too grainy once thawed. Also, the crumble can become too soggy. I recommend freezing certain cake components instead (cheesecake and vanilla cake).
You can make some elements of this cake in advance. The cake layers can be made up to 3 months in advance and frozen. Just wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminium foil.
The cheesecake can also be made up to 1 month in advance and frozen in an airtight container.
The cream cheese frosting can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
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Strawberry Cheesecake Cake
- 2 x 20 cm (8-inch) springform cake pan
- 1 x 20 cm (8-inch) adjustable cake ring
- Piping bags
- Cupcake star piping nozzle
- 360 g cream cheese (1 ⅔ cups)
- 100 g sugar (⅓ cup)
- 45 g milk, warm (3 tbsp)
- 18 g powder gelatine (2 tbsp)
- 120 g strawberries (fresh)* (⅔ cup)
- 10 g lemon juice (2 tsp)
- 240 g heavy whipping (or double) cream (1 ¼ cup)
- 350 g cake flour* (2 ⅔ cups)
- 150 g sugar (¾ cup)
- 15 g baking powder (1 tbsp)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 220 g unsalted butter, room temp (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 280 g milk, room temp (1 ⅛ cup)
- 80 g vegetable oil* (⅓ cup)
- 3 eggs, large, room temp
Strawberry compote filling*
- 400 g strawberries, fresh (2 cups)
- 15 g lemon juice (1 tbsp)
- 75 g sugar (⅓ cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 g corn starch (2 tsp)
- 30 g water (2 tbsp)
Cream cheese frosting
- 300 g white chocolate, chopped or chips (2 cups)
- 300 g unsalted butter, cold (1 ⅓ cups)
- 450 g cream cheese, cold (2 cups)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 10 plain biscuits / graham crackers*
- 5 g freeze dried strawberries (approx. 1 tbsp)
- Prepare the strawberry cheesecake and vanilla cake the day before.
Strawberry cheesecake (no bake)
- Whip the cream cheese with half of the sugar (50g or ¼ cup).
- Add the strawberries and lemon juice to a blender and pulse to make a puree. Sieve the strawberry puree to remove any seeds.
- Mix the gelatine into warm milk (not hot) and let it bloom for 5-10 minutes. Afterwards, microwave for 10 seconds to melt it slightly. Add the gelatine into the strawberry puree and mix well to combine. Mix the strawberries into the whipped cream cheese.
- Separately, whip the heavy (or double) cream with the remaining sugar until it reaches soft-medium peaks. Fold it into the strawberry cream cheese mixture using a spatula.
- Place the cheesecake mixture into a 20 cm (8-inch) pan or cake ring and let it set in the fridge overnight (minimum 6-8 hours). Alternatively, freeze for 2-3 hours.
- Pre-heat your oven to 170°C (340°F), fan assisted. Prepare two 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans by lining the bottom with baking paper and greasing the sides with butter and flour.
- In a large bowl add the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Give them a whisk to combine. Add in the butter, then use your mixer on a low setting to combine them. The mixture shouldn't be sticky or tacky, it should feel like sand.
- Add half of the milk and all the oil into the flour. Mix on medium for 2 minutes, until the mixture looks fluffy like thick buttercream. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl a few times.
- In a small bowl add the remaining milk, vanilla paste, and eggs, whisking quickly. Start pouring the milk mixture over the batter, mixing slowly to incorporate the liquids. Once the liquid is incorporated, stop mixing. The batter needs to be fluffy and quite thick, not runny.
- Divide the cake batter between the two prepped cake pans. Tap the bottom of the pan or use a skewer to swirl the batter around to release any air bubbles.
- Bake both cakes in the middle rack of your preheated oven for 30-32 minutes. Do not open the oven throughout baking. After 30 minutes insert a skewer into the cake to check if it’s cooked through. If the skewer is clean, the cake is ready. If there’s any batter on the skewer, bake for a few minutes longer and check again every 3-4 minutes.
- Once baked, let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then ease them out. Place the cake upside down on a cooling rack to flatten the top.
- When the cakes are cooled, cover them in plastic wrap and chill overnight or freeze for at least 40 minutes.
Strawberry compote filling
- Cut half of the strawberries into cubes, then add them to a saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract on top, mixing them well.
- Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the fruit breaks into smaller chunks.
- Separately, mix the corn starch and water, making sure there are no lumps. Add the mixture to the saucepan and stir to combine. The sauce should feel slightly runny, but not very liquid. If required, mix more cornstarch and water and add it to the sauce to thicken. Let the compote cool completely before using.
- Cut the remaining strawberries into slices and add to a bowl with a few teaspoons of sugar. Give them a mix around to coat them in sugar, then chill in the fridge for 30-40 minutes. Remove the excess syrup before using the strawberry slices. Use the remaining syrup to brush the cakes.
Cream cheese frosting
- For the full method check out my White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting post. You will need 3x the quantity indicated in this post.
- Add the biscuits and freeze-dried strawberries to a food processor. Pulse a few times to get a crumbly texture. There should be larger chunks of biscuits for added texture.
Assembling the strawberry cheesecake cake
- If necessary, level the vanilla cake with a knife to make the layers perfectly flat and even. Add the first layer of cake on the bottom. Pipe a ring of cream cheese frosting on the perimeter of the layer to seal in the filling.
- I recommend using a cake ring for this step. Add the strawberry compote (or jam) and thinly sliced fresh strawberries. Add a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the strawberries to seal them in, levelling it with a spatula.
- Add the layer of strawberry cheesecake on top and gently press to make it stick to the frosting.
- Pipe a ring of frosting on the perimeter of the cheesecake, then fill the inside with strawberry compote. Add more slices of strawberries, then pipe a thin layer of frosting on top to seal them in. Level everything with a spatula.
- Put the remaining vanilla cake layer on top, pressing it gently into place. Place everything in the fridge for 2-3 hours until the frosting hardens.
Decorating the cake
- Cover the entire cake in cream cheese frosting. Level everything out with a spatula to give it a smooth finish.
- Fit the frosting piping bag with a cupcake star-shaped nozzle. Angle the nozzle at 45 degrees, then pipe in a swirling motion around the top perimeter of the cake. You can also pipe dollops of frosting to create the border.
- Fill the inside of the ring with some strawberry compote, then sprinkle the crunchy crumbles on top.
- Add more crunchy crumbles on the sides of the cake, towards the bottom. You can add as much or as little as you like.
- Decorate the top with fresh strawberries, berries and mint leaves. Chill the cake for 2-3 hours before cutting and serving.
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
- Fresh strawberries are recommended. If using frozen, make sure you thaw them properly, then drain any excess liquid.
- Cake flour or type 000 flour yields a much softer cake. If you cannot find it, you can still use plain white flour, but the cake won’t be as fluffy. If using plain flour, only mix the flour with the butter for 1 minute.
- Use non flavoured vegetable oil such as sunflower or canola (rapeseed) oil.
- You can replace the strawberry compote with jam to speed up the process.
- You can use plain or vanilla biscuits or graham crackers. Use crunchy biscuits to add more texture.
- Freeze dried strawberries cannot be replaced with fresh fruit. If you do not have it, just leave it out entirely.