Saturday, February 15, 2014

Baker's Corner: Valentine's Day Special - Japanese Cheesecake

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a day late in publishing this post but that's because even though I crafted this post yesterday, I was able to complete the troublesome photography part only this morning. Oh well....I'm making an effort to keep blogging as regularly as possible so better late than never!

Valentines Day isn't a big deal to me really. I've written a previous post chronicling my thoughts and if you have read it, you would know. Then why have I taken all this trouble to bake something to acknowledge the occasion (which I also did last year by the way), you ask? Well, I just need any excuse to cook something fancy! tee....hee

Every year, we inevitably succumb to the valentine's day hype and end up going to a movie and a fancy restaurant afterwards. This year, I decided that for the very first time (in the history of us being a couple), we could enjoy a quiet evening at home. My husband decided to cook me a scrumptious main course of penne in a roasted garlic cream sauce with portobello mushrooms and broccoli and I decided to bake him a decadent Japanese Cheesecake. We lit a candle and enjoyed a memorable candle-lit dinner in the comfort of our home We even watched a romantic movie on tv (albeit if it was DDLJ, a movie, we have seen a million times). It made me realize that sometimes going out can be overrated :P

Moving on from the subject of Valentine's day, in one of my previous posts, I said that I wanted to broaden my baking repertoire. With this post, I've made a sincere attempt to do just that. Cheesecake is something I've eaten a hundred times but never made it myself. The cheesecake that I'm used to eating is the regular kind (that most of you are familiar with) which typically consists of an upper thick layer of a mixture of soft cheese, eggs, and sugar and a bottom thin crust made from crushed cookies or graham crackers. This kind of cheesecake is a sinful guilty pleasure which makes you want to scamper to the gym afterward. In this Japanese variety of cheesecake, the meringue is mixed into the cream cheese base which creates an incredibly airy and fluffy texture, so you don't get that heavy full feeling from eating this that you would do normally (it still packs in the calories though!).

This is not exactly what I would call an easy-peasy recipe. The ingredients are pretty basic but the procedure is quite lengthy. I started to bake it in the evening after getting home from work and I took my own sweet time to finish it. But what makes it worth it, is if you follow the recipe to a T, it is a fail-proof recipe and the outcome is fabulous!

Japanese cheesecake

Preparation time: 30 min
Baking time: 90 min
Serves 8 -10
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe source: Just One Cookbook


400 g (14.1 oz) cream cheese, room temp
60 g (6 tbsp) caster sugar
60 g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temp
6 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
200 ml thickened/heavy cream, room temp
10 ml (2 tsp) lemon juice
1 tbsp rum, Optional
1 tsp vanilla extract
80 g (8 tbsp) all purpose/plain flour, twice sifted
100 g (10 tbsp) caster sugar for meringue
3 tbsp apricot jam + 1 tsp water


1. Sift the flour twice and keep aside. Keep the cream cheese, butter, egg yolks, and heavy cream at room temperature.

2. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23 cm) spring-form pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper (such that it extends above the edge of the pan). Wrap the base of the cake pan with heavy duty or else double layered aluminum foil to prevent seepage.

3. Preheat oven to 320F (160C) degree. Start boiling a pot of water.

4. In the bowl of the electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth.

5. Add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

6. Add the egg yolk and heavy cream and mix well.

7. Add lemon juice, rum (if using), vanilla extract and mix until the batter is very smooth. I thought my mixture looked slightly curdly at this stage and started to freak out but it turned out to be alright in the end.

8. Add the flour all at once and mix well. Transfer the batter to the largest bowl that you have in your kitchen (you will see why later!).

9. Wash the mixer bowl and dry completely. Make sure there is no oil or water in the bowl. To make meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In the bowl of electric mixer, whip the egg whites on medium low speed till opaque and frothy. Then add 1/3 of the sugar at a time as the mixer runs. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and whip for approximately 4 min, until the meringue has doubled in volume and is thick and glossy. To test for stiff peaks, the peaks should stand straight up when you lift up the beaters. The whites should not slide around. If the meringue has not reached the desired consistency, continue whipping at high speed for another 30 sec, then stop and test again. Once the egg whites are over beaten, they can't be used for the recipe.

10. Add 1/3 of the meringue to the batter and mix well first. Then add the rest of the meringue all at once and fold it in (not mix this time).

I didn't want to share this picture at first but in the end I did to make you imagine what happens when you don't use a large enough bowl! A absolute nightmare to fold....aargh!

11. Pour the batter in the cake pan and then bang the pan on the countertop a few times to remove any air bubbles. Now place the cake pan in a large roasting pan and pour an inch of boiling water in the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the middle rack of the oven. The hot water in the pan creates steam which will help to make the cake soft and moist) Bake at 320F (160C) for 60 min or until light golden brown. Then reduce temperature to 300F (150C) and bake for another 30 min.

Please don't be confused by the two cake pans. I did one small cake for us to eat on V-Day and one exclusively for my blog :D

12. To test if the cake is done, insert a wooden skewer in the center of the cake and if it comes out clean without wet batter. Let the cake sit in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 15 min. Take out the cake pan from the roasting pan, and let it cool on a wire rack.

13. In a small bowl, heat apricot jam and water in microwave for 30 sec and spread the jam on top of the cake. When the cake is completely cool, take it out from the pan and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

14. Cut the cake with a fishing line or a warm knife (run a knife under hot water and wipe off completely before each cut).

  • Be very careful when you are separating the eggs. It is easier to separate eggs when they are cold. I would suggest you use 3 bowls when you are doing this. Use one bowl to separate the eggs and then place the yolks in a designated bowl and the whites in another designated bowl. Do them one by one. 
  • Leave the oven door ajar because sudden temperature change will result in collapse of the cake.
  • The cake should be consumed within 3 days if it's kept in refrigerator. You can also freeze and keep it up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature while covered.



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