Towering tiers are the ultimate in elegant cake presentation, perfect for special occasions, ornate weddings and plush parties. But what if, instead of sponge, you’re working with the soft, creamy filling and crumbly biscuit base of a cheesecake? With a little insider knowledge, it can certainly be done – read on for our cookery team’s top tips to stackable cheesecakes.
Choosing your cheesecake
Before you can get stacking, you’ll need to choose a suitable recipe. Where possible try and find recipes for the size of tin you have as you can then be sure of the timings – otherwise you might need to practice to get the cooking times and temperatures right. Baked cheesecakes are a much better bet than set cheesecakes, as they are sturdier and can more easily support the weight of the layers above. Don’t rush the bake – make sure the cheesecake cools completely in the oven to reduce cracking. You’ll need a good proportion of sizes, too – our assistant food editor Miriam suggests making three layers of cheesecakes in 26cm, 20cm and 16cm tins.
You can either make each layer from the same recipe, or try mixing and matching some complementary combinations. For fabulous fruity flavours, try a blueberry base, raspberry middle and luscious lemon for the top tier. For a tempting, tiramisu-style stack, try alternating double chocolate, boozy Kahlua and a New York style vanilla cheesecake. If you’re into Black Forest flavours, double chocolate and cherry make a perfect pair – you can even add in a Bakewell layer as a surprise.
How to stack them
You will need to support your stacked cheesecakes well to prevent them collapsing. To do this, rod the cheesecakes as you would for a wedding cake – cake rods act as vertical pillars inside the cake and support the upper layers. You can buy the rods from speciality cake decorating shops (such as Lakeland) or online. Miriam suggests using six or seven rods in the base, then three or four in the layer above to support the top one.
To start, place your cake on a thick cake board the same size as your tin. Cake boards can also be bought from cake decorating shops or online and come in a range of sizes and thicknesses. Using boards will make the layers easier to put together and take apart before serving.
Put a cake rod through the centre of the base layer cheesecake – inserting a metal skewer first to break through the biscuit base. You’ll now need to measure the cake rod and cut it so the top sits flush against the cheesecake. To do this, push the cake rod into the cheesecake, then pinch the cake rod where it lines up with the top of the cheesecake and mark it with a pencil. Pull the cake rod out and cut or snap it to the right length, then push it back into the centre, making sure that it doesn’t poke out of the top of the cheesecake once in place. Repeat, adding five or six more rods around the central one. Don’t put them near the edge, or they won’t be covered by the next layer.
Next, place the second largest cheesecake onto a thin cake board, again, this should be the same size as the tin but may not need to be as thick as the base. Repeat the steps above in order to measure, cut and push the rest of the rods into the cheesecake. They should be evenly spaced around the centre in order to distribute the weight evenly.
Place the smallest cheesecake for the top tier onto its corresponding cake board, then carefully stack the cheesecakes, making sure that each layer is resting on the area supported by the rods underneath.
You’ll need to take the cheesecakes apart when you’re ready to serve. If you’re at an event where someone else will be cutting the cheesecakes, make sure they know that you have put rods in so that they can take them out before cutting.
Finally, if you’re after an easier alternative, you can use a tiered cake stand where the arm is to one side.
The final flourish
Once stacked, carefully add fruits and edible flowers to the very top of each cheesecake for a neat finish. If you’re after a more rustic look, roses or sprigs of mint and small bunches of grapes can be draped down the side, but remember to do this just before serving to avoid damaging the soft sides of your cheesecake tower. For a sweeter tooth, try adding shards of honeycomb, chocolate curls, nuts or pieces of fudge. If you’re going all out, you can cover the outside edges in chocolate quills or chopped nuts, so that the cheesecake middle is only revealed when cut into.
Have you ever stacked a cheesecake tower? Let us know in the comments below…