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
- 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
- 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.
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.