Recipe: Japanese Souffle Cheesecake

Ahhh Japanese souffle cheesecake: another fluffy, jiggly creation that swept across Asia and even to Australia and America. You may have seen videos of Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake, people cutting open that golden yellow cotton cloud! If you’re a fan of the Japanese souffle pancakes, then this one’s definitely one to try! The cake itself doesn’t require any special ingredients to get that moist, bouncy, fluffy texture – it’s all in the egg white meringue! (Like the lemon chiffon cake I made here.) The technique is also very similar to making souffle pancakes! There’s a couple of points that many people, myself included, find difficult to accomplish: how to NOT get a crack on the top and how to ensure that the cake does NOT collapse? Even my mum, a baking enthusiast for as long as I’ve lived on this planet, has not yet manage to crack (no pun intended) this puzzle. It turns out to be a complicated play between oven settings and whipping of the meringue. I almost did not want to write this post because I didn’t want to embarrass myself – my first cake, following this recipe, came out of the oven with 2 cracks deeper than the Grand Canyon (which I’ve concealed per some tips below, and the cake was still delicious and perfectly fluffy).
My second cake I made with a completely different recipe – more cream cheese and 3 times less of milk. While the cake didn’t come out looking like Moses had parted the Red Sea twice on top, the top came out a lot more wrinkly and the body also collapsed more. (The video promised it to be perfect every time… at this point I’ve made 2 cakes in the space of 24 hours and at my wit’s end.) IMG_5401 Both recipes yielded similar cakes, with the second recipe being more dense, a rougher texture (from the extra cream cheese) and less sweet. Personally I prefer the first recipe as it was more moist, lighter and a lot more silky! My recipe below omitted the lemon zest and I’ve also combined some other techniques to help you make a crack-free cake. The internet master chefs have pointed out some tips to prevent the cracks and it collapsing:
  1. Do not over-beat the egg whites. You want soft peaks and this is such that the cake does not over-rise in the oven and deflate once it cools down. When lifting the whisk, the peak should bend over.
  2. Place your cake at the most bottom rack in your oven. The cake cannot be exposed to intense heat or be too close to the heating element at the top of the oven.
  3. Bake the cake at a low temperature at a longer time. This is such that the cake does not rise too rapidly, and causing the top to crack.
  4. Place the cake in a hot water bath. The moisture from the water bath helps to prevent the cracks.
  5. Let the cake cool down slowly after baking. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and let the cake sit there whilst the oven cools down.
Here are also some tips to hide the cracks if they did happen:
  1. When the cake has cooled down, dust with icing sugar.
  2. If you have deeper cracks, you can also try to “fill in” the cracks by dribbling some egg whites into the cracks. Turn up the oven to 200°C and return the cake back into the oven for 5 mins such that the egg white sets. (I haven’t seen anyone else do this on the internet but it worked for me.)
  3. Eat the cake. (HA HAH then no one will see!)
Japanese Souffle Cheesecake
Makes a 6 inch cake
For the cheesecake:
200g cream cheese
45g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar
3 eggs
50ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g cake flour (or 45g plain flour + 7g corn flour, or just 50g plain flour)
1 tsp lemon juice
extra butter and icing sugar
For the apricot glaze (optional):
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp hot water
  1. Line the bottom and sides of the cake tin with baking paper. Brush with melted butter and powder with icing sugar. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and chill in the fridge.
  3. Add some warm water into a saucepan. Add the cream cheese and butter into a mixing bowl and place over the saucepan (kind of like a double boiler, without the water boiling). This will warm up the cream cheese and butter. Cream the cream cheese and butter together with a whisk.
  4. Add half of the sugar to the cream cheese/butter mixture. Mix until well combined. Add 1 egg yolk at a time and mix well between each addition.
  5. Add vanilla extract and milk and mix. Sift in the flour and mix until no visible lumps. Set aside.
  6. Add the lemon juice to the egg whites and whisk until foamy. Add 1/3 of the remaining sugar at a time and whisk the egg whites until glossy and soft peaks.
  7. Using the whisk, add 1/4 of the egg whites to the cream cheese mixture and fold with a spatula. Add the remaining egg whites to the cream cheese and fold with a spatula. You can gently break up some of the egg white lumps and be careful not to deflate the batter too much.
  8. Pour the batter into your lined cake tin. Wrap aluminium foil around the base of the tin up to half of the tin’s height. Place the tin into a roasting tin and add hot water until 1/3 of the height of the tin.
  9. Bake in the oven at 160°C for 20 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 140°C and bake for another 30 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and let the cake cool down slowly with the oven for at least an hour.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven. Turn the tin upside down and the cake should slide out of the tin. Place the cake on a cooling rack to cool down further. You may also wish to chill the cake overnight in the fridge.
  11. To make the apricot glaze, mix the apricot jam and hot water well. Pour through a sieve to remove the bits. Allow to cool before brushing on top of the cake.
  12. Alternatively, dust the top with icing sugar.
  13. When serving, remove the baking paper and cut with a serrated knife.

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