Strawberry zebra-striped cheesecake

Dear Boe,

One of my clearest memories of you is from when we were both little. I was excited to be on my way to school while you were standing at the window, crying because you wanted to come with me.

Just four years apart in age, we couldn’t be any more different if we tried and yet we get along like a house on fire. I love when we finish each others sentences and both make fun of ma till she erupts with the inevitable “써글년 들” which makes us giggle with glee.

We’ve had our ups and downs and been together through some incredibly tough times. You always help to calm me down when I get worked up because of something, and I hope that you’ll always remember that I’m here for you no matter what.

I consider myself blessed to be your older sister, and it has been an absolute honor and pleasure to watch you grow into the beautiful, intelligent young woman that you are today.

Happy birthday, my darling.

사랑하는 언니가…

Me and my sister, when she was about 8 months old!

I am, without question, the birthday cake maker in our family. So when I asked my sister what cake she wanted this year and she responded with cheesecake, I had a think about what I could do.

Don’t get me wrong, the good ol’ Nigella Lawson baked London cheesecake is always well received (probably since I only make it once or twice a year at most), but I thought that it just didn’t look special enough. I’m sure you know what I mean. Cake is cake is cake, except when it’s a birthday cake. For something like this, you want to make something with a little bit of glamour to it – especially when the intended recipient is a dearly beloved little sister.

My sister and I are just about polar opposites – she despises seafood while I am crazy for everything from the ocean. She has a serious soft spot for celery while I deplore it unless it’s cooked half to death in a soup or a stew (and cut into itty bitty pieces). And she has (what she fondly calls) her “dessert” stomach, while I’m usually whimpering by the second course and in trouble by dessert.

Thankfully, she thinks Vegemite is as hideous as I do, otherwise I would have to consider disowning her ;-)

One of the things that we do have in common is a shared love of berries – strawberries, in particular. Our favourite bubble tea is strawberry milk, our favourite smoothie is a berry blast and we will rarely say no to (homemade) strawberry frozen yoghurt :) So making a strawberry cheesecake seemed like the right choice.

As far as berry-flavoured cheesecakes go, there are quite a few different ways of doing it. Some people just dump their berries into the cheesecake mixture, others swirl jam through it, and I’ve even seen cheesecake with a berry jelly layer on top declaring itself to be berry-flavoured.

Huh?

No, this wasn’t good enough as far as I was concerned, so I set out to do something a bit different.

I knew that it had to be a baked cheesecake done in a water bath. In my opinion, this is absolutely the best kind of cheesecake that there is. Without the overwhelming “cream cheese” flavour found in chilled cheesecakes and with a sigh-inducing texture of silky smoothness, there’s something just incredibly sensual about the way that this cheesecake melts in the mouth.

The beauty here is that using real berries instead of any preserves means real strawberry flavour comes straight through in the cheesecake, and when that’s paired with the stunning look of the alternating layers…well, it makes a cheesecake worthy of being served for my sister’s birthday :)

Of course, since just strawberry cheesecake isn’t quite enough, I recommend pairing this with a strawberry coulis or sauce as there is nothing that looks quite as decadent as a slice of cake (or cheesecake) with a rich ruby-red sauce dripping down the sides ;-)

Strawberry zebra-striped cheesecake

Ingredients
200g digestive biscuits (I use Arnotts Marie biscuits)
100g unsalted butter, melted then cooled
650g cream cheese
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
300g strawberries (fresh or frozen)
2-3 drops red food dye

1. Crush the biscuits and then stir through the melted and cooled butter till everything is evenly mixed together. Line an 18cm springform round cake tin with non-stick baking paper then press the buttered cookie crumbs into the base. Make sure you pack it together solid so the cheesecake mixture doesn’t leak through to the bottom.

2. Place 600g of cream cheese in a food processor along with the lemon juice, vanilla and sugar and process till the mixture is completely smooth. Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and egg yolks then process again till smooth and well combined.

3. Remove about 2/3 of the cheesecake mixture and set aside, then add the berries, remaining 50g of cream cheese and food dye to the 1/3 cheesecake mixture remaining in the processor and blitz till the berries are smoothly incorporated. The food dye is optional, but will help make the layers more striking once baked!

4. Pour the white and strawberry cheesecake mixtures into the cake tin, alternating flavours and trying to keep each addition fairly even. Once all the mixture has been added, drag a skewer from the edges to the middle to make a pattern as in the picture below. At this stage, you can also add a little natural strawberry preserve or roasted strawberries to be found as little surprises in each slice!

5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and wrap the outside of the cake tin three times with foil, making sure to alternate direction. Wrap it tightly as without  tight foil barrier, water *will* seep through the container and make the bottom of the cheesecake waterlogged and soggy! Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or till the top of the cheesecake feels set to the touch. Once the cake is baked, chill overnight in the fridge to allow it to set completely, then slice and serve!

While this is perfectly fine to serve as is, I love serving my cheesecakes with a simple berry sauce as I feel this just adds a little “oomph” to the presentation of the dish. Plus, I honestly believe that there is no such thing as too much berries…so why not huh? :)

Kitchen Wench’s Strawberry Sauce

Strawberry sauce ingredients
300g strawberries (fresh or frozen)
150g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup water

Wash and hull your berries, then place into a saucepan along with the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer whilst stirring occasionally. Once the liquid has thickened and the berries completely cooked through and mushy, remove the pan from heat and blitz with a stick blender or food processor till smooth.

If you don’t have a food processor or stick blender you can pour the mixture through a sieve and push the berries through a sieve to get the pulp into the sauce without the seeds :)

Comments

  1. nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom

  2. What a touching post. Happy birthday to the sister as well. This si certainly one very special cheesecake to celebrate with.

  3. How striking! I’ve seen zebra cakes before but not cheesecakes. Lovely post!

  4. SOOOO prettyyy! (: Happy birthday to your dearest sister!

  5. The pink, white and red all together – gorgeous! What a luscious cake.

  6. Well this certainly has the glamour you aimed for! Its absolutely the most beautiful cheesecake ive seen in longer than i can recall. It looks a little more involved than a lot of the recipes i usually opt for but im very much considering trying it as it looks SO worth it! A lovely tribute to your sister too, im sure she was over the moon with this gorgeous yummy prezzie :)

    • Thanks Sasha :) It is a pretty involved recipe but the end result is so worth it! And baking in the water bath will give you a wonderful texture that you don’t find with other cheesecakes :)

  7. This cheesecake is calling my name……. :!: A quick question, did you use fresh or frozen strawberries??
    I just discorved your blog, I love your writting style and way with words. :smile:

    • Thanks Mayya :) I used frozen because strawberries are out of season and a bit pricey at the moment, but you could definitely use either for this :)

  8. What great post. Its so important to be close with your family. I love what you have done for her cake :) it sounds berrylicious!

    • Thanks Nic :) I agree that being close with family is important – but I know that’s not always possible so consider myself very lucky in that respect :)

  9. Beautiful post. You have a very luck sister. This cheesecake looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  10. this looks to good to eat! And I can’t believe you don’t like vegemite! Oh well, more in the world for me

  11. Awww happy birthday to her — this cake looks incredible! Can you be my sister for my next bday too? ;p

  12. it so cute i so going to make this but i don’t know what 200g is,is this lovely sweet in milliliters if so i can’t make it. :cry:

    • Hi Chelsa, unfortunately the cream cheese that I use is far too solid to measure in mL, you’re best bet would be to convert it to whatever weight-measurement system you’re familiar with. There are plenty of websites online which can work out the conversion to use so they should be able to help you out!

  13. Wow, so so cool! That is one gorgeous cheesecake. :)

  14. How beautiful and delicious does this look?!?! I love strawberries ON cheesecake but have never have them IN cheesecake. Inspiration!

  15. I’m in love Ellie! This is just gorgeous. Have bookmarked for my sisters birthday too :)

  16. Had to try this one. Mine isn’t quite as pretty with the design on top but it will eat the same. The coulis is amazing–wanted to dive in the stuff!! Thanks for a great recipe. I’m proud to say all the strawberries came from ,y own little patch!

  17. Happy birthday to your sister and can’t believe you do not have a dessert stomach??

  18. Ohh I love the look of the zerbra cheescake – and so easy to achieve :lol:

  19. You’re amazing!!! I wish I was as talented as you! Love your blog btw :D

  20. What a lovely sentiment, and cake too. I think this is the best type of cheesecake too, as I think gelatine set ones are just not the same!

  21. Ellie!!! This cheesecake loosk fantastic! Girl, you are talented! The more I look at your posts, the more I like your blog! Paula

  22. Manyee Li says:

    I just discovered your site as I was searching for pistachio paste. Your recipes are beautiful and I love reading your blog. I’m definitely trying this cheesecake and many more of your recipes once I get through reading them all. You are an inspiration. Thanks Manyee.

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