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.

This confection was created by Japanese chef Tomotaro Kuzuno who was inspired by a local käsekuchen cheesecake (a German variant) during a trip to Berlin in the 1960s. Today, we have many variants of this cake, but all are light as chiffon, a bit wobbly, and cotton soft under a fork.

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

Heather Baird
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.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • When mixture has cooled, fold in the egg yolks, flour and corn starch. Fold until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • 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.
  • Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and fold together until well incorporated.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Kat
Kat
10 years ago

Wow! That cake looks gorgeous!

Fran Amenรกbar Ch.
Fran Amenรกbar Ch.
10 years ago

this cheesecakes looks so "tastefull".
Greetings from Chile

Isabelle @ Crumb
Isabelle @ Crumb
10 years ago

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!

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

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

๐Ÿ™‚
ButterYum

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

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

Rosa's Yummy Yums
Rosa's Yummy Yums
10 years ago

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

Cheers,

Rosa

K @ Aurora Blythe
K @ Aurora Blythe
10 years ago

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!

Adina
Adina
10 years ago

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

Rita D
Rita D
10 years ago

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

Thanks so much for sharing.

Cookbook Queen
Cookbook Queen
10 years ago

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jo-Anna@APrettyLife
Jo-Anna@APrettyLife
10 years ago

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

Jennifer
Jennifer
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Hinna
Hinna
10 years ago

This looks beautiful!

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Jenny (VintageSugarcube)
Jenny (VintageSugarcube)
10 years ago

I have never seen a cheesecake more intriguing. I love all the wonderful sweet surprises you always have for us. ๐Ÿ™‚

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

Well that is gorgeous!

Erin
Erin
10 years ago

How fascinating! That texture looks unbelievable!

Miss Adriennely
Miss Adriennely
10 years ago

Your cake looks so light and fluffy! Gorgeous~

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

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!

Lauren at Keep It sweet
Lauren at Keep It sweet
10 years ago

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

myfudo
myfudo
10 years ago

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

kissmecakes
kissmecakes
10 years ago

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

Su-yin
Su-yin
10 years ago

I love Japanese cotton cheesecake – the texture is so beautifully light that it fools you into thinking that it's totally fat free. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Gorgeous photos.

Sandra
Sandra
10 years ago

Stunning!

Sue
Sue
10 years ago

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

In The Kitchen With AUdrey
In The Kitchen With AUdrey
10 years ago

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

Kristine
Kristine
10 years ago

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!

lidia
lidia
10 years ago

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

Heidi
Heidi
10 years ago

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.

Paula
Paula
10 years ago

So beautiful in it's supremely white simplicity.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

is extra fine sugar the same as powdered sugar?

Simones Kitchen
Simones Kitchen
10 years ago

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

Chele
Chele
10 years ago

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!

myFudo
myFudo
10 years ago

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

T and Tea Cake
T and Tea Cake
10 years ago

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/

Maja
Maja
10 years ago

Wow, I'm amused with your photos and recipe!! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

This sounds so yummy. Pretty too!

Crystal Lee
Crystal Lee
10 years ago

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/

Margie
Margie
10 years ago

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!

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

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!!!

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago

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.

teena
teena
10 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

Japanese cheesecake rocks! lovely pics, Heather ๐Ÿ™‚

Lora
Lora
10 years ago

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

anna
anna
10 years ago

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!

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

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. )

Marina
Marina
10 years ago

This is perfect! Wow!

Meatloaf Recipes
Meatloaf Recipes
10 years ago

What a Delicious looking cheesecake! It's make me hungry! I can't wait to eat this ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

That looks absolutely amazing! Like a cloud of cheesecake!

Amanda
Amanda
10 years ago

you always amaze me!