Preheat the oven to 300F degrees once you're ready to bake your cheesecake.
Beat the cream cheese with a stand or hand mixer for about 1 minute, until creamy and lumps are minimal.
Add the sugar and continue beating about 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
Mix in the salt, vanilla, eggs, lemon zest and flour.
Pour half the mixture into the cooled shortbread crust. **Bake the crust first and let cool before starting the cheesecake.
Pour the cooled strawberry sauce on top, then top with remaining cheesecake mixture.
Use a knife to swirl the strawberry sauce into the cheesecake mixture (see photos above).
Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and let sit in the oven for another hour.
Remove and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight to let it set properly.
Cut the stems off the strawberries and puree them with a blender.
Combine the pureed strawberries, vanilla and sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Chop the butter into small pieces and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Combine the chopped butter, flour, sugar and vanilla in a food processor and pulse until the dough starts to stick together. Do not overmix.
Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides 1-2 inches of a 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges of the crust are lightly browned. Let cool fully before adding filling.
Mix sugar and sliced strawberries in a bowl and let sit for 30-60 minutes.
Whip the whipping cream until frothy.
Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until peaks begin to form.
Add vanilla and lemon zest and whip until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over whip or it will become watery.
Make the shortbread crust and the strawberry sauce before starting the cheesecake filling as they both need time to cool.
Make sure the butter is extremely cold before making your crust. If it's too warm it could leak out while baking.
The crust should be cooled fully before adding the cheesecake filling. You can make it in advance for convenience.
Don't overmix the pie crust. As soon as it starts to stick together, it's done. It should be a little loose.
Crust can be frozen and used when ready. Use straight from frozen.
The macerated strawberries can sit in the fridge for 3-5 days in a covered container. They will continue to get juicier as they sit longer.
The cheesecake should be chilled fully before serving for the best result. Otherwise, it may not set properly and the consistency will be off.
You can substitute store bought whipped cream for the fresh made for convenience.
Make Ahead: The crust and strawberry sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Store in the fridge or freezer. Thaw the strawberry sauce to room temperature before using.To Freeze: To freeze the cheesecake after it's baked, make sure it has been completely chilled according to the above recipe instructions. Wrap either the whole cheesecake, or individual slices (without toppings), in good quality plastic or freezer wrap, then wrap in foil. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.