This Summer Berry Cheesecake is a classic New York style baked cheesecake topped with fresh summer berries. It's luscious, creamy and delicious! With a few simple pro tips this cheesecake is so easy you will be making it non-stop with any and all of your favourite toppings!
To make the basic cheesecake you will need only 8 ingredients. Cream cheese, eggs, sugar, sour cream, salt and vanilla. And for the crust, Graham crackers or crumbs, and butter. This time I used whole crackers and ground them up in my food processor. Only because I happened to have them on hand. Usually I just buy them already ground to make life easier. I'm all about taking short cuts as long as it doesn't compromise the outcome. Don't have a food processor? No problem, you can put the crackers in a bag and whack them with a rolling pin or anything else that will do the trick. A blender or Magic Bullet will also work. If you want to make this gluten free just pick up a box of gluten free graham crackers or crumbs.
You want to make sure the cream cheese and eggs have come to room temperature before getting started. If the cheese is too firm you will have lumps in your cake. If you forgot to take it out before hand don't worry, you can microwave it on low (be careful not to melt it!) until it has softened. The eggs can be put in a bowl of hot tap water for a few minutes to take the chill off. Be sure to use a full fat cream cheese and sour cream for ultimate lusciousness!
This recipe makes two 6" cakes or one 9". I like to make two so I can put one in the freezer. This cheesecake freezes very well!
First you will make the crust by combining all the ingredients. Then prepare your pans. This may come as a surprise but this is one of my best baking hacks EVER! I don't use spring form pans for my cheesecakes. ? There I said it. Your cheesecake baking life will never be the same.
You see, the best way to bake a cheesecake is in a water bath. No matter how you wrap up the bottom of a spring form pan you will always end up with a soggy bottom. Yes you can forgo the water bath but then your cake is bound to crack on top and not be as velvety-smooth and creamy. A water bath is absolutely the best way to bake a cheesecake. So instead I line the bottom of a cake pan with parchment paper (in this case I used two 6" pans but the recipe also makes one 9" cake) and spray generously with non-stick baking spray.
Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan using something like a small, flat bottomed glass or anything that has a flat bottom so you can press the base down really well.
Then find a pan large enough to hold your pan(s) and put in enough hot tap water to come half-way up the sides of the pan(s).
The way to tell if a cheesecake is done can be a bit tricky. The important thing is to remove it from the oven before it looks completely set. It should still have a slight jiggle just in the center, a spot about 2"-3" in diameter. If it's still jiggling closer to the edges then it needs more time.
After baking and cooling put the cake(s) in the fridge overnight. The next day run a small knife around the outside edges being careful not to rip the sides, place a piece of parchment or plastic wrap on top and then flip it out into your hand and back over onto your serving plate. For extra ease you can submerge the bottom of the pan in a bowl with hot tap water to release the bottom. And voila! A perfect cheesecake with a nice crisp crust!
For a little extra flavour and sweetness I used a red currant jelly that I warmed up slightly in a saucepan and poured over the cake before putting the berries on top. You could use any kind of jam you like or none at all. As for the berries I simply picked up a variety, washed them, dried them, cut up the larger strawberries into smaller chunks and piled them all on top. You could also dust with icing sugar for a finishing touch but I used a few little flowers from my garden instead.
PRO TIPS FOR BEST RESULTS
- Bring the cream cheese and eggs to room temperature.
- Measure out all your ingredients first
- Use a full-fat cream cheese and sour cream for ultimate lusciousness.
- Use regular cake pans lined with parchment paper instead of spring form pans.
- Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the cake pan.
- Wipe any crumbs from around the sides and re-spray if necessary.
- Bake in a water bath with hot water coming half way up the sides of the pan.
- Pour the hot water into the pan as close to or when already inside the oven.
- Bake at a low temperature for the creamiest finish with no cracks.
- Let the cake cool overnight in the refrigerator so it will release from the pan easily and in one piece.
- Dip the bottom of the pan in hot water to release the bottom before flipping it out.
- Top the cake with your favourite jam for an extra flavour layer.
- Dust berries with icing sugar or top with some decorative flowers and/or fresh herbs from your garden.
- Make it gluten free by using your favourite GF cookies made into crumbs.
- Make two 6" cakes and put one in the freezer.
Summer Berry Cheesecake
- Two 6 inch or one 9 inch cake pan.
FOR THE CRUST
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs or 22 whole biscuits, broken down to crumbs
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp white sugar
FOR THE FILLING
- 3 8 oz/226g packages original cream cheese not spreadable
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs, large
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup sour cream, full fat
FOR THE TOPPING
- 1 small jar of any fruit jam or jelly you like I used red currant
- 4 cups fresh, mixed berries, washed and dried this is an approximate amount
FOR THE CRUST
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Position rack in center oven.
- Cut circles of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your pan(s). Spray pans with non-stick cooking spray and place parchment in bottom.
- In a bowl combine the graham crumbs with the sugar. Melt the butter and mix into the graham crumbs until combined. Press evenly into the bottom of cake pan(s) using a flat bottomed glass or measuring cup to press firmly.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool while preparing the filling.
FOR THE FILLING
- Reduce oven temperature to 250°F
- In a medium bowl mix together the soft cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth. You can use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Scrape sides of the bowl half way through. Add the vanilla and sour cream. Mix until combined and smooth.
- Wipe off any crumbs that have collected on the sides of baking pan and re-spray. Pour in cheesecake filling.
- Transfer to a pan large enough to accommodate your cake pan(s). Close to the oven, add hottest tap water to come half way up the sides of pan(s).
- Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes for two 6" and up to 2 hours for 9"
- Remove from oven and water bath. Let cool on a wire rack until room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove from fridge and run a small knife around the outside edges being careful not to cut the sides. Submerge the bottom of pan(s) in hot water to release. Place a piece of parchment or plastic wrap over the top and invert to release from pan. Invert back onto your serving dish.
- Cut up any berries that are too large. Warm your jam and pour over top of cake(s). Pile up the berries distributing evenly. Finish with icing sugar or fresh herbs and flowers.