Incredibly light and fluffy Japanese cheesecake that’s so soft it melts in your mouth. Made with a soufflé base and baked in a water bath, this jiggly cheesecake is the fluffiest dessert ever!
I’m convinced that when I say ‘cheesecake’ you think of creamy goodness, not a jiggly cake. Well, I’m about to blow your mind with a cheesecake that’s super fluffy and jiggles like a jelly. Let me introduce you to the Japanese cheesecake!
Light, fluffy and extra jiggly, Japanese cotton cheesecakes have the texture of an airy soufflé. The slightly tangy flavour of the cream cheese makes for a rich and creamy cake that doesn’t need any fillings.
Japanese desserts are always delicious, not too sweet and a joy to make. If you’re looking for a special cake, this Japanese Strawberry Shortcake is perfect for all celebrations. For the more adventurous cooks, this Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi is one of my favourite Japanese sweets.
What is a Japanese Cheesecake
Japanese cheesecakes are baked cheesecakes originating from Japan. Also known as fluffy cheesecakes, they are in fact like a single layer cake, dusted with icing sugar. Made with a soufflé base, this cheesecake is incredibly soft, like a mixture between a cheesecake and a sponge cake.
This type of cheesecake is known as a Japanese cheesecake, Japanese cotton cheesecake, soufflé cheesecake, fluffy or jiggly cheesecake.
Although now they are famous all around the world, these fluffy cheesecakes are incredibly popular in bakeries all around Japan and East Asia. In Japan this type of dessert is known as a soufflé cheesecake (スフレチーズケーキ or Sufurechīzukēki).
Just One Cookbook does a great job explaining all the different types of Japanese Cheesecakes (baked, rare and soufflé).
Japanese Cheesecake vs Regular Cheesecake
Japanese cheesecakes are not at all like a conventional American cheesecake. Let me explain. Japanese cheesecakes are like a single layer sponge that contains cream cheese. Although they are known as ‘cheesecakes’, they are more similar to chiffon cake.
By contrast, American cheesecakes are like a creamy custard that’s either set in the fridge or baked. The texture and taste are very different from a Japanese cheesecake.
To sum up, don’t get fooled by the name: Japanese cheesecakes are fluffy cakes, whereas American cheesecakes are creamy.
Fluffy cheesecakes are remarkably moist cakes that taste great on their own, without needing any fillings. From the first time I tried one, I realised why people are so in love with them. Japanese cheesecakes are:
- Moist, without needing any syrup
- Light and fluffy as a cloud
- Melt-in-your-mouth texture
- Sweet and slightly tangy
- Refreshing, ideal for summer
- Surprisingly easy to make
- Not overly sweet
- Perfect for all occasions
Let’s talk about ingredients. The main thing to remember about this Japanese cotton cheesecake is that it uses no leavening agent. All that impressive rise comes from the egg whites and the fluffy texture of this cheesecake comes from cream cheese.
- Cream cheese – the main ingredient of this recipe. Use full fat cream cheese, with at least 30% fat (check nutritional label).
- Lemon juice – used to add a tangy flavour to the cheesecake. This can also be replaced with vanilla extract for a more subtle taste.
- Eggs – really important for helping the soufflé cheesecake rise. I recommend using large eggs, free-range or organic. For a more stable meringue, use chilled eggs.
- Cake flour – is essential to yield an extra soft cake. As Japanese cheesecakes are so delicate, cake flour cannot be replaced with all purpose or self-rising flour.
- Sugar – used to add sweetness and help the meringue become more stable. This cake is not overly sweet, but the sugar can be adjusted slightly for a sweeter cheesecake. Alternatively, dust the cake with icing sugar.
How to Make Japanese Cheesecake
Making Japanese cheesecakes is simple, but it does require precision for best results. The ingredients need to be in exact quantities, which is why I recommend using a kitchen scale for this recipe.
To get the smoothest texture possible, the flour needs to be sieved before adding into the batter. Similarly, if the mixture becomes lumpy, sieve it again to remove lumps.
- Combine the cream cheese, melted butter and hot milk in a large bowl. Whisk well until the mixture becomes like a creamy paste. If the cream cheese is too lumpy, heat gently over a double boiler.
- Mix in the egg yolks into the cream cheese mixture, then sieve in the flour. Combine everything with a whisk or spatula. Sieve the mixture again if there are any lumps of flour.
- Whip the egg whites and pour in the lemon juice once the mixture becomes frothy.
- Incorporate the sugar into the egg whites slowly, in thirds. Continue mixing until the meringue reaches soft-medium peaks.
- Fold in one third of the meringue into the cake batter. Add in the remaining meringue without deflating too much air, using a spatula. To combine, use a sweeping motion to fold the batter in on itself. It’s important to not deflate too much air from the meringue.
- Pour the cake batter into the lined pan, then prepare to bake.
Baking the Soufflé
The secret of the jiggle in this soufflé cheesecake rest with the baking method. Unlike traditional baked cheesecakes, Japanese cheesecakes are baked in a hot water bath. The water created steam in the oven, making the texture very fluffy.
- The outside of the springform pan needs to be covered with aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping in. I recommend using two or three layers of foil.
- Place the cake pan into a deeper, larger pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan, around 1-inch in height.
- Bake the cheesecake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, then open the oven door for to release some steam. Releasing some steam prevents the cheesecake from becoming too soft.
- Reduce the oven temperature to and bake for an additional 30 minutes. As this cheesecake is so soft, the skewer test will not be as effective. The cheesecake will be ready when it has a slight wobble, but it’s golden-brown on top.
Japanese Cheesecake Tips and Tricks
- Always line the cake pan for an easier release.
- Measure ingredients carefully. I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for best results.
- Ensure the cheesecake mixture is lump free before adding the egg yolks. If there are any lumps left, use a double boiler to warm the mixture. Mix until there are no lumps left.
- Sieve the cake flour to avoid lumps. If the batter is still lumpy after mixing, sieve again to remove lumps.
- Use chilled eggs for the meringue. Cold egg whites yield a more stable meringue.
- Do not add all the sugar at once. Pouring all the sugar in can deflate the meringue. Add the sugar in thirds every 30 seconds, whilst mixing.
- Medium peaks meringue is needed for best results. A soft meringue will not yield a good rise, whereas a stiff meringue can also affect the rise.
- Always use a water bath when baking. The steam helps the soufflé cheesecake have a fluffy texture and prevents burning.
- Do not open the oven unless indicated. Releasing any steam too early can deflate the cheesecake.
- Let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door cracked ajar. This is particularly important in cold weather. The cheesecake can collapse if cooled too quickly.
- Follow the oven temperature indicated in the recipe.
Freezing and Storage
Japanese cheesecakes are best served after chilling in the fridge for a few hours. To serve, slice into portion sizes, dust with icing sugar or brush with apricot jam or honey. I also recommend serving it with a side of fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries.
If you happen to have leftovers, this cheesecake can be frozen for up to 3 months. For best results, cover the cheesecake in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
Soufflé cheesecakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. I do not recommend leaving this cheesecake outside at room temperature.
More cheesecake recipes:
- Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Grease and line the springform pan with parchment paper on the sides and bottom.
- Combine the cream cheese, melted butter and hot milk in a bowl, mixing well. The cream cheese mixture should be like a smooth paste. Heat over a double boiler if there are any lumps left.
- Combine the egg yolks into the cream cheese, mixing well to incorporate.
- Sieve in the cake flour, using a whisk to combine into the batter. If any flour lumps remain, sieve again.
- Whip the egg whites using an electric mixer, in a separate bowl. Pour in the lemon juice once the mixture becomes frothy.
- Incorporate one third of the sugar into the frothy eggs, then keep mixing for 30 seconds. Add one half of the remaining sugar into the meringue, mixing for 30 seconds. Pour in the remaining sugar, mixing until the meringue reaches medium peaks.
- Fold in one third of the meringue into the cake batter, using a spatula. Use a sweeping motion to fold the batter in on itself.
- Fold in the remaining meringue without deflating too much air, using a spatula. Stop once the meringue is incorporated and the batter is fluffy.
- Prepare a cake pan by lining it with parchment paper on the sides and bottom. Pour the cake batter into the pan, then run a spatula through the batter to remove large bubbles.
- Place the cake pan into a deeper, larger pan. Ensure the cake pan is well lined with aluminum foil.
- Pour boiling water into the larger pan, around 1-inch in height.
- Bake the cheesecake in a pre-heated oven to 325°F for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, open the oven door for 10 seconds to release some steam. Releasing some steam prevents the cheesecake from becoming too soft.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. The cheesecake will be ready when it has a slight wobble, but it golden-brown on top.
- Let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes inside the oven, with the oven door slightly ajar. Afterwards, cool down and chill for 4 hours before serving.
- To serve, either dust with icing sugar or brush with apricot jam or honey.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!