Japanese Cotton-soft Cheesecake

Cotton Cheesecake


I was in a frenzy of indecision this week over what to post. Looking through my recipe files, I kept changing my mind – no sooner did my eye alight on some choice delicacy than – Ooh look! Shiny, SHINY other recipe – something else would catch my eye. So to make even the slightest progress in whittling down the choice, I threw it open to Twitter and was rewarded with some excellent prompts – which is how we ended up at this delightful piece of froth – Japanese Cotton-soft Cheesecake.

Now I like a nice slice of cheesecake as much as the next person – probably more so – but I’ll be the first to admit that with all the cream cheese, eggs and cream they can, and frequently do, veer into claggy-land all too easily. And the last thing you want to round out a meal, or even a delectable mid-afternoon treat, is a big old slab of dairy sticking to the roof of your mouth with an overly sweet-and-soggy base gumming up your palate.

So this recipe might well be the answer! Having never been to Japan (I don’t think a 4 hour stop-over in Tokyo Airport counts), I have no idea whether this is authentic, but the general consensus Out There™ seems to be that this is how it should identified.

It is essentially a crust-free soufflé cheesecake, baked slowly in a water bath or ‘bain marie’ in a low oven. In contrast to the majority of baked cheesecakes, the amount of cream cheese is surprisingly low – but this also impacts the resulting flavour. ‘Delicate’ is the perfect description – in both flavour and texture – it really is like a pillow of softness in the mouth.

You can add some texture by baking a shortbread or biscuit base in the same cake tin while the cheesecake chills in the refrigerator, and then just plonk it on before serving – for a souffle, the whole cake is very forgiving at being moved around.

It can be enjoyed plain as is, or be paired with whatever toppings, compotes and sauces you have to hand. Ideal for a get-together, because everyone can choose how to customise their slice the way they like it. Maybe I should change the name to “One Size Fits All Cheesecake”! 😉

Japanese Cotton-soft Cheesecake

200g cream cheese
4tbs milk
8tbs icing sugar
3 large eggs, separated
4 tbs cornflour
juice of a lemon[1]
pinch of cream of tartar

  • Grease and line the sides and bottom of a 23cm spring-form cake tin with baking parchment. Wrap the outside of the tin in foil to help prevent leaks.
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C, 140°C Fan.
  • Beat the cream cheese until softened.
  • Add the milk one spoonful at a time until the mix is smooth.
  • Add 4tbs icing sugar, the egg yolks, cornflour and lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
  • In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and the cream of tartar to soft peaks.
  • Whisk in the remaining sugar one spoonful at a time and continue whisking to stiff peaks.
  • Boil some water.
  • Stir 1/3 of the egg-whites into the cheese mixture. This will loosen the mixture and make it easier to fold in the remaining egg-whites. Don’t be shy about stirring vigorously – essentially you are sacrificing these egg-whites in order to fold in the remaining ones more easily.
  • Gradually fold the remainder of the egg whites into the mix.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Tap the tin lightly on the counter top to level the surface.
  • Put the cake tin into a roasting pan and slide 2/3 of the way into the oven.
  • Pour the boiling water into the roasting tin until it comes half-way up the side of the cake tin.
  • Gently slide the roasting tin all the way into the oven and close the door.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the surface still has a little movement when the tin is jiggled.
  • Turn the oven off and let the cake sit in the cooling oven for 10-15 minutes (cooling it too fast will make it crack).
  • Remove the cake from the oven, the water-bath and the tin and let it cool on a wire rack.
  • Chill in the refrigerator until required.

[1] I like it lemony – you might want to reduce this to the juice of just 1/2 a lemon

11 Comments on “Japanese Cotton-soft Cheesecake”

  1. I have lived in Japan for several years and this is definitely ‘authentic’ and from the photo it looks like it turned out just perfect! I’m tempted to try this recipe but I’m terrible in the kitchen as you’ll see from all of my baking misadventures. 😛

  2. Urvashi Roe says:

    Love the idea of this! wish I had seen some when I lived in Japan – mind you I would have gotten rather enormous eating it as it looks very moreish. Have also been baking cheesecake today funnily enough. Mine were using ricotta – banana and maple and raspberry and rhubarb

  3. nnua says:

    Yes this is authentic. Japanese cheesecakes are suppose to be pillow-soft, moist yet ethereally light. I am a big fan of the Japanese cheesecake & have made them myself. Been to Japan a few times & we have Japanese pastry shops catering to the local expat Japanese community.

    The Japanese seem to produce lighter versions of western cake recipes. The cheesecake is not the only cake to have undergone this transformation. Not sure if it is a matter of taste, or cost of ingredients or calorie-watching.

  4. Paridhi Bhushan Roy says:

    Hi! Tried this recipe yesterday and thought it was very much like the Japanese Cheesecake we used to have in Mumbai.. Never been to Japan though! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

  5. This looks amazing! Definitely one I’ll need to add onto my to-do list. 🙂

  6. Angel of the North says:

    I have acquired some matcha so intend trying a version flavoured this way. It will be a pretty green, too.

  7. Swedish baker says:

    I switched out the cream cheese for tofutti soy cream cheese and used almond milk instead of regular milk. Still used eggs though, so not fully vegan. Turned out okay, great served with cloudberry jam. Thanks for the recipe.

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