Light, fluffy, moist and less sweet than any other cheesecakes - Japanese Cheesecake is not difficult to make. But if you want to perfect it with a smooth surface and soufflé texture, you need to do a bit extra. And it's worth the effort as it's so delicious.
Time does not include the time to cool down the cheesecake on a rack.
Pre-heat the oven to 160C (320F). (note 2)
Grease the bottom and the side of the cake pan with butter (not in ingredients) and line the bottom with baking paper (note 3).
If the cake pan has a loose bottom, cover the bottom and side of the cake pan with large aluminium foil (or a disposable round aluminium tray) so that the foil continuously covers the bottom and the side to just below the rim.
Add cream cheese in a bowl and whisk over water bath (not too hot) to soften the cream cheese. Add butter and whisk until the mixture becomes creamy with no lumps.
Remove the bowl from the water bath and add the remaining Batter ingredients one by one in the order of the ingredients list. Mix every time an ingredient is added. Mix well until the colour of the batter becomes consistent.
In a new bowl, add egg whites and beat until they become foamy.
Add sugar in 3-4 batches while beating the egg whites fast. Beat until soft peaks form (note 4).
Add a third of the meringue to the batter and fold gently using a spatula until white meringue mixes into the batter.
Now transfer the batter to the meringue bowl and fold gently until the trace of the white meringue disappears.
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Drop the pan from 10cm (4") high few times to remove air bubbles.
Place the cake pan in a deep baking tray or a large non loose-base cake tin. Fill hot water to 1.5cm (⅝") high (water bath).
Place an oven tray/baking tray on the middle rack of the oven, place the water bath tray with the cake pan inside and bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 140C (284F) and bake further 40 minutes.
Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven for 30 minutes (note 5).
Insert a thin bamboo stick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out dry, the cake is cooked. If still slightly wet, turn the oven on to 160C (320F) and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the cake from the water bath and gradually cool the cake down for further 20 minutes in the oven by slightly leaving the oven door by sticking the oven mitt or a cloth to the door (note 6).
Better to be served after chilling it in the fridge. (note 7)
1. It will make a cheese cake about 4.5cm (1¾”) high. If you are using a 20cm or 23 cm (8" or 9") cake pan, you may want to increase the ingredients by a quarter or a third to maintain the height of the cake (a third is easier considering the eggs). The first cooking time at 160C (320F) needs to be increased to 30 minutes but the rest of the instructions remains the same.
2. Temperature is critical. Make sure that the inside of the oven is the right temperature as some ovens have discrepancies between the actual inside temperature and what the setting indicates.
Also, I used a fan forced oven. A standard oven needs to be a bit higher but do not go too high. It is better to have a lower than required temperature than higher.
3. I don't line the side of the tin because it will leave creased mark on the side of the cake. But if you are not concerned about it, line the side of the cake tin and grease with butter.
4. Soft peaks: When you lift the whisker, the meringue forms a peak but then slowly folds. Do not beat too much or you will get a hard peak – the meringue peak does not fold and is stiff.
5. This is to prevent the inflated cake from collapsing. It also continues to cook the cake.
6. This step can be skipped if you are in a hurry, though the cheesecake might shrink a little bit.
7. Japanese Cheesecake looks attractive as it is with no decorations but if you insist, you could sprinkle icing sugar over it. The icing sugar will dissolve as time goes by so decorate just before serving.
I am not a fan of topping the cake with jam syrup or icing sugar as I believe it defeats the whole idea of lightly sweetened cake. But if you have a sweet tooth, why not?
8. Because each oven is different and the volume of the cake can vary even slightly, you may find that the surface of the baked cake is not as brown as my cake. If you wish to make it browner, you can turn the upper heat on for a short while. But don't over bake.