Top this cheesecake with strawberries pointed ends up for an easy yet spectacular presentation.
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 1/2 (16 oz.) packages fresh small strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
How to Make It
Make cheesecake: Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Stir together crumbs, butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Press into bottom of pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap outside of pan with two sheets of aluminum foil.
Mix 1 cup sugar and flour. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar mixture and vanilla; beat until blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Mix in sour cream and lemon zest.
Transfer batter to springform pan; place in a roasting pan. Pour hot water into roasting pan to 2 inches deep. Bake until set but still jiggly in center, 1 hour and 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set springform pan on rack to cool. When cool, run a sharp knife around edge. Remove foil and refrigerate, loosely covered, for 8 hours.
Make topping: 1 1/2 hours before serving, arrange 1 box of strawberries (pointed ends up) on top of cheesecake. Slice remaining berries. Bring sliced berries, sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tsp. water. Stir cornstarch into berry mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 minute. Strain mixture (using a fine strainer) over a bowl, pressing on solids. Discard solids; let glaze cool. Brush berries with glaze. Refrigerate cake for 1 hour.