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In Dreams: Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake


I've been daydreaming about this cheesecake ever since I laid eyes on it a few months ago.  The ingredients are simple: cake flour, fresh milk, eggs, sugar, cream cheese.  It is proof positive that ordinary pantry items can be transformed into something extraordinary when handled just so.

To clairify -this cheesecake is a textural masterpiece.

Yes, those are bold words for a cheesecake, but entirely true.  Like the name indicates, it is light and cottony and its sponginess will have you tearing it apart with your bare hands just to examine the beautiful interior.  It's a sponge cake-slash-cheesecake hybrid.  A beautiful thing.


Ordinarily, cheesecakes need a water bath to set properly.  This one is no different.  I used my roasting pan filled with hot water and sat the spring-form pan in the middle of the removable rack. 



I have converted the recipe to cup-and-spoon measures so casual home bakers (in the US) can enjoy this recipe, but if you are an avid baker or otherwise inclined to use a scale for measurements, you can find the original recipe (in grams/oz.) here.



Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Diana's Desserts                                                                             [printable version]
Yield: One 8" cheesecake

Note:  Do not substitute homemade cake flour (regular flour mixed with cornstarch) for this recipe.  Use a store-bought cake flour such as Swan's Down. Wondra flour will also work beautifully.

9 oz. cream cheese (one 8 oz. brick plus 1 oz. of another brick)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh, whole milk
6 eggs, room temperature - whites and yolks separated
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup extra fine granulated sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp. cake flour
3 tbsp. corn starch                                 

  1. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Stir occasionally to break up cream cheese and combine the ingredients.  Remove bowl from heat and allow to cool. Mixture will be thick.  If lumpy, use a whisk to vigorously beat the mixture until smooth. Set aside.
  2. When mixture has cooled, fold in the egg yolks, flour and corn starch.  Fold until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and mix again, gradually adding the extra-fine sugar a little at a time until soft peaks form.  Note: Soft peaks:  mixture should be white and opaque, and meringue will fall onto itself when the beaters are lifted from the bowl.
  5. Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and fold together until well incorporated.  
  6. Pour into an 8-inch round spring-form pan that has been lightly greased and lined (sides and bottom) with parchment paper.  Place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the cake so it does not brown.
  7. Bake in a water bath for 1 hour 10 minutes.  When timer sounds, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes with the oven door cracked.
  8. Carefully remove pan from water bath and let stand until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove spring-form ring and serve.

Notes:  
  • Substitutions are not recommended for this recipe.  Be sure to use whole milk, cake flour and extra-fine sugar.  If you can't find extra-fine sugar, grind regular sugar finer in a food processor.  
  • One tablespoon of lemon juice may be added to the cooled cheese/butter/milk mixture for flavor.
  • Sprinkle matcha green tea on finished cake, or top with fresh fruit for serving.



91 comments :

  1. Wow! That cake looks gorgeous!

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  2. this cheesecakes looks so "tastefull".
    Greetings from Chile

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  3. This looks positively magical - who new a cheesecake could be so light and fluffy with just a few changes?
    I think it might even pass muster with my cheesecake-fearing BF, since the texture looks so much more cake-like than regular cheesecakes.
    Will have to get my hands on some cake flour so I can give it a try!

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  4. Oh my goodness... these photos are amazing! We really like heavy cheesecakes, but this recipe is very intriguing. Thanks for sharing it.

    :)
    ButterYum

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  5. So sweet. So ethereal Heather. I would have to seriously be in control in front of a slice of this pillowy goodness.

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  6. It looks heavenly and so light! What a delight. Beautiful and tempting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. This is the most beautiful cheesecake I have seen in a long time. Unique! And the texture! Just by your pictures I can tell this dessert is out of this world good. Bookmarked this recipe to try in future. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Made it once myself and it was the lightest cheesecake ever. What a presentation!

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  9. I have a serious cheesecake addiction so this is definitely going on the "to be baked" list.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

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  10. I cannot even find words for how I feel about this cake.

    But I do have feelings for it.

    Strong ones.

    You,my dear friend, are a dessert wizard. The Dumbledore of dessert food. :)

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  11. This cheesecake looks so amazing and PERFECT! I've never made one, I'm just too scared!
    Lovely photos too!
    Jo-Anna

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  12. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe. I baked this as soon as I saw your posting. It came out looking exactly like yours except for the fact that there was a thin yellow-colored layer at the bottom. While it didn't affect the overall taste very much, it just bothers me that there is something that's not supposed to be there. It is yellow, thick, and tastes like cream cheese. Could it be that the cream cheese mixture settled on the bottom as the cake baked? If so, should I have folded the batter a little more? I would really appreciate your help. Thank you!!!!

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  13. Hi Jennifer!
    It does sound like the batter could have been folded a little more. I have experienced something similar - it took me three tries to get this cake right. First attempt I used homemade cake flour (thumbs down) and it fell completely. My second attempt had a custard-like... compressed(? hard to describe)layer at the bottom- this sounds like what you experienced. I felt that my batter was under-folded and my meringue was under-whipped. I beat the meringue a little longer and made sure everything was folded together thoroughly. Third time was the charm.

    I hope this helps! Thanks for the feedback!

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  14. I have never seen a cheesecake more intriguing. I love all the wonderful sweet surprises you always have for us. :)

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  15. How fascinating! That texture looks unbelievable!

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  16. Your cake looks so light and fluffy! Gorgeous~

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  17. oh yeah. Japanese Cheesecake is definitely my family's favorite. I make them so often I don't even need to look at my recipe any more. Yours look amazing with that matcha dust on top...so tempting!

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  18. That cheesecake is just gorgeous! It looks so light but decadent.

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  19. It's a brilliant work. Those cheesecakes became so light that you could not imagine. I love it.

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  20. Oooh. I shall be trying this recipe next weekend. X

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  21. I love Japanese cotton cheesecake - the texture is so beautifully light that it fools you into thinking that it's totally fat free. ;) Gorgeous photos.

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  22. Heather, You always seem to find some of the most intriguing recipes, and then go to town with them. This recipe is no exception:) I'd love to give it a try! :)

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  23. Oh, that look so fabulous! I think Audrey needs to learn how to make cheese cake.

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  24. The green on top makes it. This would be a perfect replacement to a standard birthday cake with butter cream for someone who appreciates the unique!

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  25. This is great!
    I am adding this to the list of "things I need to bake" (:
    Thank you for sharing.

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  26. This to me, seems like it's screaming for key lime accents. Since you've tasted it, what do you think? I would do lime juice, zest, and perhaps a light key lime glaze. I value your opinion.

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  27. So beautiful in it's supremely white simplicity.

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  28. is extra fine sugar the same as powdered sugar?

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  29. Oo that looks amazing. I love the texture of the cake. So light and fluffy!

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  30. I've been meaning to give this recipe a try myself but I'm scared by the whole water bath baking process. ours looks totally worth the effort though, stunning!

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  31. Wow!! the cheesecake looks great, am craving for it now, looks delicious. Love the photos.

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  32. I love cheesecake (grew up with the classic German kind) and ever since I read about this Japanese version, I am intrigued! Yours just looks so airy and divine.

    Tobias
    http://tandteacake.blogspot.com/

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  33. Wow, I'm amused with your photos and recipe!! Thanks :)

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  34. You always have such great pictures! This looks awesome. I am a sucker for cheesecake of any kind. I am going to have to try this one. Thanks!

    Crystal Lee
    The Lee Craft Table
    http://leecrafts.blogspot.com/

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  35. I found Diana's recipe a few years ago and immediately had to try it. This is such a fabulous dessert, not too sweet and the texture is to die for!

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  36. Impressed and intrigued! I love all your whimsical creations so much, but this one really made me stop and look because, as you said, it's all about the method and technique, no fancy stuff, just amazing results. Very very nice!!!

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  37. I'm intrigued. This is so different than what I am used to so I am very curious. I wonder if it could be adapted for different flavorings. Curious indeed.

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  38. What size eggs did you use? Large, extra large?

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  39. Japanese cheesecake rocks! lovely pics, Heather :)

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  40. So pretty and fluffy I want to curl up and take a nap on it. Looks divine.

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  41. This is something I still haven't made. And I'm a spongecake FIEND. The matcha on top is even better than the proverbial cherry!

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  42. Congratulations, this is the first time i see your blog*! I'm fall in love with your blog, your desserts and your passion for it* i can see that
    Thank you for your sharing!

    Best wishes and good continuation. Good Luck

    Ana , from Portugal

    (P.S: I hope you understand what I wrote my English is not very good. )

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  43. What a Delicious looking cheesecake! It's make me hungry! I can't wait to eat this :-)

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  44. That looks absolutely amazing! Like a cloud of cheesecake!

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  45. What a masterpiece Heather! That is green tea on the top? I just love your magical touches like that. And yes I definitely want to pull this one apart with my bare hands, as I stuff it into my face that is! Gorgeous! xoxo ~Lili

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  46. What an amazing cheesecake! I'm always on the look out for new recipes and I think this is just fabulous, I want to try it out now!

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  47. I tried this last weekend and it was so amazing- like a perfect mix of spongecake and cheesecake- perfect for an autumn dessert.

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  48. This sounds amazing. Would love to try it out! I'm not really into the dense, NY style cheesecake :)

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  49. This cakes has me so ultra irritated. I don't know if it's the foil and water bath or what. The first time I tried i didn't put foil on it and i forgot so i slid it on there partially through and then it ended up falling. this second time i started with foil and its the same thing. suggestions

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  50. Wow!! I 'll try as soon. A kiss from Brazil!

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  51. Wow! A total coincidence that I ran into your blog today! My friends and I occasionally get together for dinner parties. We choose a theme/nationality and cook foods from that culture/country. We've done Italian night, Thai night, Mexican night and so on. We have Japanese night this weekend! I don't know how "Japanese" this cake truly is, but it will make for an awesome presentation! I am in charge of desserts and usually have to make 2 or 3 different ones to meet everyone's tastes. One of my friends prefers fruits and cheesecakes but no chocolate. I think he'll really love this. Wish me luck! I would hate to disappoint, especially with such an intriguing and interesting recipe!!!

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  52. Your presentation is fabulous! Sprinkling of green tea and top with strawberry is a great idea!

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  53. Son unas maravillas tus recetas y tus fotos, te aplaudo !!besos desde España.

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  54. Wow, that texture looks amazing. I must try this.

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  55. Help how can I make this in a 10" springform pan, i'm trying to make it now.... Thank you

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  56. The batter will bake in less time in a 10" pan. Just check it at 55 minutes to see if it is done. Crack the oven door and bake additional 10 minutes.

    -Thanks!

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  57. Is the cake flour conversion right? Diana's conversion calculator for 60g of cake flour says 5/8 cup not 1/3 cup + 1 tsp.

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  58. 5/8 cup cake flour on my (digital) home scale weighs 75-80 grams, depending on the flour brand. Cake flour protein contents vary, and I can only vouch for 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp. Wondra flour at this time. (I just measured) Other brands are not readily available in my area.

    For this recipe to be 100% scientifically quantifiable in YOUR home kitchen, I recommend taking the plunge -buy an inexpensive kitchen scale.

    Or you could try both conversions and see what comes out best for you. I wish I had an easier answer. Hope this helps. :)

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  59. It does help, thank you! I didn't realize different cake flours have different weights. It looks like a new kitchen scale will have to be my next investment =)

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  60. I have made this several times with great success and yet with all purpose not cake flour. I use 1/4 cup all purpose and 2 tbsp cornstarch. I also use only 8 oz cream cheese rather than 9, and 2/3 cup regular sugar. I bake it in a 0 inch springform pan at 350 for 55 min and 315 for 15. Then I leave it on oven in door open a bit for 1 hour Make sure u cover bottom and sides of pan with foil to prevent water from leaking inside

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    1. I meant 9 inch not 0 inch springform pan.

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    2. So sorry regarding typos in my prior comments (the 2 preceding this one). I meant 325 degrees for 55 minutes then 15 minutes at 315 degrees. This recipe is so good and with a magical texture. Really cottonsoft as in the title. A cross between a chiffon cake and cheesecake. And let me sign my name. Regine

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  61. Anyone tried this recipe in a loaf pan....if so how long should we bake it? And egg whites are beaten until.soft or stiff peaks?

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  62. is the mixture suppose to be bubbling when i mix the cheese mixture and the egg mixture?

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  63. i just finished it and the cake is jello-y.. is it suppose to be like that?

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  64. Help.....I'm waiting another half hour as I write this. When you do the final 10=15 minutes with the door cracked open, is the oven on or off....hope your on the computer and see this right now. Thanks.

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  65. Am I supposed to submerge the pan in the water itself, or put it on a rack above the water? From the illustration, I gather that the pan is supposed to sit just above water level and not actually be submerged. I have baked cheesecakes both ways, but those are ordinary New York style.

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  66. Mine sat just above water level. It was not submerged.

    :)

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  67. This is my second time baking it.. And the cake is baked and all but it's quite stiff and not cotton soft and the cake kinda sunk not rise... :( what am I doing wrong? Please help!!

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  68. how do you get the cake to rise?

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  69. I'm addicted to cakes and cheese cakes, thanks for sharing

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  70. Hi, can the cake be refrigerated and kept overnight after baked? Please advise...

    Thank you.

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  71. Yes! And I'd say it would be fine covered in cling film and left on the counter top overnight. If you refrigerate, bring it to room temp before serving. It'll taste best that way.

    xo
    H

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  72. Hi,
    this cake looks like a cheese cake should look like, it is simply fabulous.
    I will be attempting to make it, and i do have a question. Does it matter if you fold the cheese batter into the maringue or should one fold the maringue into the batter?

    thanks,
    Elvira

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  73. I baked this last week because of the term you used - "textural masterpiece" to describe the cake. Ok, maybe she's exaggerating I thought BUT I was blown away myself!!

    It truly is the softest almost ethereal texture! I inadvertently removed it from the oven soon after baking instead of letting it cool in there gradually. This caused it to shrink without affecting the taste of texture!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

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  74. This is a wonderful cake!! Like crossing an angel food cake with a traditional cheesecake. It's so good. Not too sweet, not too rich, but satisfying nonetheless. You could top it with just about anything too. I didn't have the green tea powder, so I sprinkled toasts sesame seeds and powdered sugar on top. It was lovely!

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  75. This looks DIVINE! My next dessert :)

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  76. How do you line your springform pan's sides with parchment paper? Beautiful pictures! My cake's in the oven now... Hoping it turns out half as beautiful as yours!

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  77. Hi Livia,

    I grease the pan with clear vegetable shortening then line the pan with parchment cut to size. The shortening makes the paper sticks to the pan. - Thanks so much!

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  78. I am in awe of this cake. I was hoping to get your permission to attempt to convert it to gluten free. If my experiment works, I would reference your blog and link. Please let me know if this is okay.
    Thank you for this beautiful recipe.

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  79. made it last weekend! great recipe, thanks!

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