Soft like a pillow and light as air, diet-friendly Japanese cheesecake delivers a delicious rich flavor of cream cheese with a subtle tanginess of lemon that won’t compromise your diet. You can have your cheesecake and eat it too!
You can serve the cheesecake upside down the way it is when you turn it out of the pan.
Or flip the cheesecake again so it’s right side up.
Japanese cheesecake doesn’t really need much anything else except for an optional light dusting of powdered sugar. I’ve made this a couple of times some years ago, before this blog, and it’s something I’ll never get tired of making.
It’s a cross between regular cheesecake and a fluffy chiffon cake. Compared to regular cheesecake it has considerably less cream cheese, yet its flavor is extremely pronounced. It’s airy and incredibly moist and soft. Although it has less sugar than regular cheesecake, the sweetness is just perfect. Really just absolutely delicious.
For a non-fat cake, try funfetti angel food cake covered with fat free frosting.
There is no rising agent in Japanese cheesecake, so it will get its lift from meringue. It’s baked in a bain marie or water bath that gives it moisture. I used a lasagna / roasting pan for the water bath, but any baking dish or pan large enough to contain the cake pan will work. When done, the cheesecake will retract from the sides of the pan as shown here.
Pour hot water into the holding dish when it’s already in the oven, rather than fill it before and have the water slosh around as you transfer it to the oven. Place the rack at the lowest level, just above the heating element, to avoid over browning the surface. For this post I made a couple of cheesecakes each time, varying the bake time and oven temperature. I got the best results with nice even browning when I baked it at 325°F for one hour, then lowered the temperature to 320°F and baked it for an additional ten minutes. I turned the oven off and let the cheesecake sit in the oven, with the door closed, for another 45 minutes.
The recipe box has all the details, but here’s a quick reference card to show an outline of the steps. I have to say I really enjoy making Japanese cheesecake so I had a good excuse to use two weekends to get the right proportions for the perfect cheesecake. Here are some notes that may seem trivial, but do affect the outcome greatly:
- You can melt the cream cheese, milk and butter either in the microwave or stove top, but I find the microwave more convenient. There will be tiny lumps of cream cheese, so transfer the mixture into a stand mixer bowl and beat the living daylights out of it to smoothen it out before you proceed to the next step.
- Stop the mixer and add the sifted dry ingredients, part of the sugar, egg yolks and lemon juice. Start the mixer and beat them all together until smooth, free of lumps and the batter falls in a ribbon.
- I find that if I beat the egg whites just on a steady medium speed I get a finer more even crumb. The tiny air bubbles are more uniform when beaten on medium than if I crank the speed all the way up to high. It will take a few more minutes to get to the right stage but I think it’s worth it.
- I used a regular 8-inch x 3-inch round cake pan, but a 9-inch x 3-inch round pan would also work.
- As I mentioned earlier, the bake time coupled with the gradual decrease in temperature make for a perfectly baked Japanese cheesecake.
Here’s the cheesecake served upside down.
And here it is again served right side up.
Simple yet exquisite with a very fine and even crumb, soft, light, deliciously moist and so full of flavor—that’s Japanese cheesecake. Cheesecake without guilt. Give it a try and you’ll likely make it more than once.
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cream cheese (260 g)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (57 g)
- 7 tablespoons milk (96 g)
- ¾ cup cake flour (88 g)
- 2 ½ tablespoons + 1 teaspoon corn starch (28 g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lemon juice (23 g)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (165 g) [1/4 cup or 55 g will be added to the cream cheese mixture; ½ cup or 110 g will be used to make the meringue]
- One 8-inch x 3-inch OR 9-inch x 3-inch round cake pan
- Water bath (bain marie) - baking dish or pan large enough to hold the cake pan (I used a roasting / lasagna pan) to be filled with hot water
- Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure the bowl is clean, dry and devoid of any trace of fat. Set aside to bring to room temperature. If you have only one mixer bowl place the egg whites in any other clean bowl and set aside.
- Spray with non-stick cooking spray an 8-inch x 3-inch round cake pan. A 9-inch x 3-inch round cake pan will also work. Pre heat the oven to 325° F.
- Melt together the cream cheese, butter and milk in the microwave. Stir every 60 seconds and repeat 2 or 3 times until the butter and cream cheese are melted. Transfer the cream cheese mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the flat beater attachment to smooth out any small remaining lumps of cream cheese. Mix until completely smooth.
- Sift the flour, corn starch and salt together.
- Stop the mixer. Add the following ingredients to the cream cheese mixture: sifted dry ingredients, ¼ cup sugar (55 g), egg yolks and lemon juice. Start the mixer and, all at the same time, blend the added ingredients well with the cream cheese mixture. Beat until smooth and free of lumps and the batter falls in a ribbon. Set aside. If you have only one stand mixer bowl, transfer the batter to another large bowl and wash the mixer bowl very well in hot sudsy water making sure no trace of fat remains, in preparation for whipping the egg whites.
- Whip the egg whites with the wire whip of a stand mixer on medium speed. When the meringue starts to take shape add the cream of tartar. Gradually add ½ cup sugar (110 g). Whip until meringue turns glossy, has increased in volume and holds medium peaks.
- Take a dollop of meringue and fold it in by hand with a spatula into the cream cheese batter to slacken the mixture. Take a third of the meringue and add it to the batter. Cut and fold the meringue swiftly but gently to minimize deflating the meringue. In one motion, cut the center all the way down to the bottom of the bowl and fold the batter over the meringue. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as you fold up. Repeat with several strokes until the meringue is blended. Fold in the next ⅓ of meringue, mixing until blended. Fold in the last ⅓ of meringue making sure all the meringue is completely blended. The resulting batter at this point should be light and airy.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the cake pan. Place the cake pan in the larger dish, then place both in the oven. Pour hot water into the water bath until about half way up the sides of the cake pan. Be careful not to splash water into the batter.
- Bake for 60 minutes at 325°F. Decrease the temperature to 320°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 – 45 minutes.
- Turn out the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake plate and serve. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.