Japanese cheesecake: A tempting teatime treat

This light, fluffy cheesecake is best served with tea or coffee. (Rasa Malaysia pic)

Japanese cotton cheesecake is very different from regular cheesecake – it’s softer, lighter, fluffier and a bit jiggly due to the egg-white meringue mixture.

Make sure all the ingredients are measured up and ready to go before starting the process.

Ingredients

  • 225 g Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 100 ml full milk
  • 60 g cake flour
  • 20 g cornstarch
  • 6 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the meringue:

  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 140 g fine granulated sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 160ºC. Prepare and measure all the ingredients and set out on the working area.
  • Grease a 23 cm spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Refer to “tips” if using a different pan.
  • On the stove top, melt the cream cheese, butter and full milk on low heat. Use a whisk to mix well until the cream cheese melts completely without lumps. Remove from heat.
  • Sift the cake flour and cornstarch.
  • Add egg yolks, lemon juice and salt to the cream cheese mixture. Whisk to combine well.
  • Add the cake flour and cornstarch, whisk until a smooth batter forms and there are no lumps.
  • Make the meringue by whisking egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar until light, foamy and soft peaks form.
  • Use a stand mixer or electronic hand mixer at Speed 4 and beat for one or two minutes or until soft peaks form. DO NOT overbeat.
  • Gently fold the cream cheese mixture into the meringue until well incorporated.
  • Pour the mixture into the spring form pan and tap the pan gently before placing in the oven.
  • Bake the cake in a water bath. Place the cake pan in a larger pan and pour 2.5 cm of hot water in the larger pan. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes.
  • Leave the cheesecake to cool down in the oven with the oven door open, for about 30 minutes. This will prevent a sudden change of temperature that may cause the cake to shrink. However, it is normal for the cake to shrink up to 2.5 cm after cooling.
  • Refrigerate the cake (with or without the cake tin) for at least four hours or overnight. Top the cake with powdered sugar before serving.
Refrigerate the cake for at least four hours or overnight and top with powdered sugar before serving. (Rasa Malaysia pic)

Tips

  • If using a spring form pan or loose base cake tin, make sure it is closed tight. It is best to wrap the outside of the base of the pan with two layers of aluminium foil to prevent the water bath from seeping inside.
  • If using a 20 cm round pan, line the sides with parchment paper, making sure the parchment paper extends higher than the cake tin by about 4 cm. For a 23 cm pan, there is no need to line the sides.
  • A 20 cm or 23 cm square pan can also be used.
  • If the cake shrinks too much, the main reason is over-mixing the egg white mixture with the cream cheese mixture. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, fold very gently using a flipping motion. Do not stir or blend vigorously.

Baking tips

  • Make sure the cream cheese mixture is smooth with no lumps.
  • Use room temperature eggs to ensure that the meringue has the maximum volume.
  • Make sure the egg whites are beaten until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
  • Do not over-mix the meringue with the cream cheese batter. Fold very gently, do not stir or blend as the bubbles in the meringue will disappear.
  • To avoid a sudden drop in oven temperature to room temperature, leave the cake in the oven with the oven door open. This will ensure that the cake does not lose volume and sink.
  • To avoid cracking at the top, use a water bath for baking. The steam from the water will circulate in the oven, minimising cracking at the top.
  • To avoid over-browning, bake the cake at the bottom of the oven.
  • Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of matcha powder to the cream cheese mixture for a matcha-flavoured Japanese cheesecake.

This recipe first appeared in Rasa Malaysia

CP Choong is a contributor to Rasa Malaysia.