This recipe took me three years to perfect, so don’t feel too discouraged if your Japanese cheesecake is not perfect the first time around. When a nearly perfect Japanese cheesecake comes out of the oven, it’s an ethereal experience. You’ll want to bake this airy, melt-in-your-mouth showstopper over and over again.
Note: Once refrigerated and “aged,” the cake will transform into a denser yet still light cheesecake.
Depending if your oven runs too hot or too cold, you may need to adjust baking temperatures accordingly. If the top of the cake cracks, your oven may be running too hot. Try beating the meringue to firm peaks instead of stiff peaks.
Yield – One 8-inch (20.5-centimeter) cake
Line an eight-inch (20.5-centimeter) cake pan with a Gefen Parchment Paper circle. Nestle a strip of parchment paper into the sides of the cake pan to form a collar.
Preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius, or gas mark 3) and place a rack in the center.
Make the batter. In a pot over low heat, mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat. Whisk in the sugar and egg yolks until incorporated. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and milk and whisk until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the pot as needed. Set aside.
Make the stiff peaks meringue. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat room-temperature egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until foamy and opaque, a few minutes. Lower the speed to add the sugar in increments. Turn the speed back to medium-high. whip the meringue until glossy and tripled in volume. The peak will be tall, sharp, and pointing upward.
Add one-fifth of the meringue to the batter. Gently whisk until incorporated. Repeat two more times. Then pour all the batter into the bowl with the meringue. Using a whisk, gently fold the remaining meringue into the batter, until homogenous, thick, and creamy. There should be no white streaks remaining in the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan against the counter a few times. Swirl the whisk over the top of the cake to smooth it out. Put the pan in a large baking dish. Place the baking dish on the oven rack. With oven mitts on, pull the rack out. Fill the baking dish with about one and a half inches (3.8 centimeters) of hot water. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the cake rises a bit. Crack the oven door open slightly for 10 seconds. Lower the oven temperature to 285 degrees Fahrenheit (140 degrees Celsius, or gas mark 1) and bake for an additional 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
With the door ajar, keep the cake in the oven for 20 minutes after baking.
Remove from the oven. The cake will deflate a little.
To remove the cake from the pan, place a plate over the cake. If the pan is still hot, use oven mitts. Flip the cake out onto the plate. While the cake is upside down, remove the parchment paper. Quickly place a serving plate on top of the cake (it’s the bottom part of the cake). Carefully flip again. Alternatively, if the parchment collar is supportive enough, hold two opposite sides of the parchment collar and simply lift the cake out of the pan.
Dust with the optional confectioners’ sugar. Serve while the cake is still warm and jiggly.
For a matcha version of this cake, substitute one to two tablespoons (eight to 16 grams) of flour with matcha. Visit modernasianbaking.com for tips on how to make different versions of this cake and troubleshooting tips.
Recipe excerpted from Modern Asian Baking at Home : Essential Sweet and Savory Recipes for Milk Bread, Mochi, Mooncakes, and More; Inspired by the Subtle Asian Baking Community (Quarto 2022). Purchase on Amazon.