With a fluffy, jiggly, and soft velvet texture that melts in your mouth and tickles your taste buds with rich yet light cheese notes. Every bite serves you just the right amount of sweetness that isn’t overpowering nor is this a dense sponge cheesecake that will overpower you and stick to the roof of your mouth and teeth. This best Japanese cheesecake recipe will grace you with its moistness, its fluffiness, and its jigglyness — heaven in a bite.
It’s been a while since my last recipe, and that’s because I have been experimenting in my laboratory (kitchen). Ever since the Japanese cheesecake took over the Internet and the café trend by storm, I was hell-bent on baking the perfect Japanese soufflé cheesecake that was airy like a chiffon cake but still contained the velvet creamy texture and jiggliness unique to a Japanese cheesecake.
I spent weeks trying out different recipes with different techniques and making adjustments to the oven temperature, cake batter, and even the way I prepare my cream cheese mixture. The main problem I encountered was in perfecting the appearance. Most of them were acceptable, but I had some that failed miserably, however, they all tasted delicious even though they failed to pass my presentation standards.
What do I mean by a “failed” Japanese cheesecake? If you have seen a Japanese cheesecake before, you will know that they are supposed to have a smooth, slightly domed surface, straight sides, cottony fluffy texture, and moist soufflé-like cake crumbs. If my Japanese cheesecake doesn’t contain either any one of these characteristics, it will be classified as a “failed cake”, and its back to the drawing board. What a perfectionist I am!
After a thousand tweaks and tries later, today I proudly present to you a delicious light, pillowy soft jiggly Japanese cheesecake recipe that is adaptable to most of the conventional ovens out there with top and bottom heating (without the fan on).
Japanese Cheesecake vs regular American Cheesecake
Japanese Cheesecake is also known as Japanese cotton cheesecake, Japanese soufflé cheesecake, and light cheesecake. The recipe was created by Japanese chef Tomotaro Kuzuno who was inspired by a local käsekuchen cheesecake (a German variant) during a trip to Berlin in the 1960s.
As you can probably tell by the variations of its names, it is well known for its wobbly jiggly outlook and light soft, airy texture similar to that of chiffon cake. The baking process is special as it uses meringue instead of baking powder for the cake to rise. The introduction of meringue causes the Japanese cheesecake to have a tall and bouncy structure due to the air trapped inside it. It is much lighter and less sweet than your regular cheesecake, hence it makes the perfect dessert for those who prefer a lighter finish after a meal. Since it’s less sweet, that means it makes a smaller dent in your calorie intake for the day too!
Japanese Cheesecake Recipe
scroll ⬇️to get the detailed printable recipe
Why did my Japanese cheesecake fail?
Over the past weeks, I have baked a few failed cheesecakes and some ”not-so-perfect” cheesecakes (big thanks to all my friends, families, and neighbors who were willing to savor all the “not-so-perfect” cakes warmly, although they didn’t look as presentable as I wanted them to look), thankfully the taste was still consistent and on point. I was feeling rather pessimistic and wondered why my baking buddy Mandy succeeded all the time with a commonly found Japanese cotton cheesecake recipe.
After we spent days and nights chatting about the problems and solutions finally, we found nothing wrong with the recipe; the cracked, crumpled side and occasional under-baked center issues were all because of my oven! I have an oven that has its own character, and it will crack the top of the cake by the end of 1/3 of the baking time. If you have the same experience with Japanese cheesecake, even if you have followed every detail stated in the recipe, don’t feel bad; it could be your oven that failed the cake!
I was totally lost at first, but after taking the baking progress time-lapse video with my GoPro camera (finally utilizing the GoPro camera that I bought from Amazon), I saw that my cake suddenly rose up and began to crack at about 45 minutes of baking. I then researched other recipes which could help me overcome this problem and finally, I found a recipe that looked promising enough. I tried it out, and voila! I succeeded in the first attempt. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that jiggly Japanese cheesecake emerge when I opened my oven door in all its perfect glory. I literally jumped up and down in joy with immense satisfaction.
I didn’t stop after I perfected the fluffy Japanese cheesecake recipe. I baked another few more to prove that I wasn’t just lucky. They were all successful! Mandy asked me how many Japanese cotton cheesecakes I have baked in total, and I think there shouldn’t be less than 20 cakes, dear lord… The continual success brought me a lot of courage; hence I decided to make a video to show a summary procedure on how to bake it.
This time around, since the process of baking the perfect Japanese cheesecake requires a lot of attention to detail, I recorded a video to show you the procedure of how I prepared the cake batter and the process of baking it. I even included an in-oven baking video to show you the baking process of this Japanese jiggly cheesecake in real-time so you have a detailed reference to monitor your cake rise as it’s in the oven.
Watch “How-To-Bake” Video
Japanese Cheesecake Recipe Ingredient Highlights
Here are some noteworthy highlights on some basic ingredients that I adapted from the original recipe. To attain the perfect result of a fluffy Japanese cheesecake, then do take note of the stipulations of certain key ingredients.
- Eggs: I used large eggs (it was about 118g in total for the egg yolks). Tip: Separate the yolk and white by using cold eggs and leave them at room temperature as you prepare the cream cheese mixture. The egg white mixture will be at the perfect temperature to form the meringue.
- Cream Cheese: I used Philadelphia cream cheese for all my Japanese cheesecakes, hence, I am not sure how other brands of cream cheese work for this recipe.
- Sugar: It is recommended to use Caster sugar as it is slightly finer than fine granulated sugar. If you don’t have caster sugar, then lightly grind the fine granulated sugar so they’re broken down into finer pieces. This is crucial for your soft peaks to form nicely from your beaten egg whites.
- Do not use powdered sugar as it contains cornstarch. The sugar can be adjusted slightly for a sweeter cheesecake, or you can dust the cake with icing sugar.
- Cream Of Tartar: Cream of tartar is a natural meringue stabilizer. If you do not have the cream of tartar, replace it with 1/2 a tsp of lemon juice.
- Cake pan: I recommend that you use a 3″ tall non-black round cake pan of 8″. If you cannot find a 3″ high cake pan, then replace it with a 9″ round cake pan that is at least 2.5″ tall.
- Use a 1-piece punch-out cake pan, not a springform pan or any other seamed pan, as water may seep in from the sides of the cake pan from the hot water bath. If you only have a springform pan, it needs to be covered with two to three layers of aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping in.
- You may replace 60g of cake flour with 55g of All-Purpose Flour + 5g of corn starch. But remember to sieve the flour to achieve a soft cream cheese mixture. Do not add baking powder, as this cake uses the meringue method.
- Flavor: By replacing the lemon zest (in the Cream cheese batter) with 1.5 tsp of vanilla extract, you can have a Japanese soufflé cake that has a more vanilla twist to it.
- Unsalted butter: This is important as you want to be able to control the amount of salt that goes into your batter.
Why does my Japanese Cheesecake crack?
1. Don’t be lazy and use a Water Bath
Also known as a Bain-marie, baking the cheesecake in a large tin with boiling hot water is essential to achieve your Japanese-style soufflé cheesecake as the water creates steam around the cake, keeps it super moist, and helps it rise evenly like a soufflé. Without it, you will not get the fluffy cake you want as it will bake unevenly with the sides turning baking faster than the middle as well as cracking due to the higher temperature in there.
2. Oven Temperature
Temperature is the main reason why most Japanese cheesecakes crack and are not able to achieve the soft, airy texture unique to a Japanese souffle cheesecake. Thus be aware of your baking temperature!
The temperature stated in the recipe is in-oven temperature. Each oven is different so if you are not too sure if the temperature inside your oven is accurate as what you have set on the control panel, get an oven thermometer to check. For this Japanese fluffy cheesecake recipe, the temperature instructions are at the first and last step of our baking process.
Firstly, preheat the oven to 200°C / 392°F (Top and bottom heat, no fan force), at least 20 minutes before sending your cake batter into the oven for baking.
Next, bake with a water bath on the bottommost rack in a preheated 200°C / 392°F for 18 mins, then lower to 140°C / 284°F for another 30 mins (let the heat in the oven drop gradually with the door closed) and turn off the oven and leave the cake in the closed oven for another 30 mins.
Lastly, remove the water bath and open the door of the oven slightly at the end of the baking for another 30 mins for the cake to cool. Letting the cheesecake cool down in a gradual transition is important as drastic temperature changes from the hot oven to a freezing fridge will cause it to crack.
3. Greasing & Pan Lining
Remember to grease the side of the pan with butter and line only the bottom of the pan. If you want to line the side of the pan, please grease the parchment paper after line. As this Japanese jiggly cake is extremely soft, it may stick to the bottom of the pan and the sides as well and ruin the presentation of the cake. If the cheesecake is stuck with the parchment paper while rising, the cake will be pulled and end up cracking.
Important Techniques for Perfecting the Japanese Cheesecake Recipe
1. Making the Meringue
Do not overbeat the eggs! We do not want stiff peaks, but we want our meringue to be in soft peaks form. Stiff peaks are a bit riskier because if you overbeat just a slight bit they may end up lopsided and may crack as well. Hence control the strength of your dominant hand when mixing with a whisk or even while using a stand mixer or electric mixer.
While beating your egg white, gradually add the fine sugar to the white mixture. Do not add them all at once, as they will deflate your puffy meringue.
2. Meringue Folding Technique
As this is a Japanese-style cheesecake, in order to attain that quintessential jiggle it is an important thing to perfect the meringue folding. When folding the egg white meringue into the cheese mixture, you need to be gentle to minimize the deflation of tiny pockets of air in the meringue. Make sure both the cheese mixture and the meringue are well incorporated and come together nicely. (Refer to Picture 9 and the video for step-by-step demonstrations).
3. Serving and Storage
The Japanese cheesecake is cooled and normally served chilled with apricot jam, honey, or fresh berries. I, however recommend you to try this angel food cake by itself to relish its unique texture.
This cake has to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge if it is not finished within the day. I, however, do not suggest you freeze it as it may affect the texture of the Japanese cheesecake.
Below are some of the different stencil designs I used to decorate the Japanese cheesecake.
Just in case you haven’t watched the video I posted above.
Here are some screens captured from the video:
If you have tried this Japanese cheesecake recipe and loved it, I have more recipes in my recipe section for you to master. But if you are looking for other cheesecake recipes, then you can always try my Matcha Cheesecake, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. For those who want to indulge without guilt — Low Carb Cheesecake and Burnt Cheesecake are both keto desserts perfect for those who are in a keto or low-carb diet.
CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE
- 250 gram Philadelphia cream cheese
- 6 egg yolks (Update: I measured mine, it was about 118g in total for the yolks)
- 70 gram castor sugar (This is half of the total 140 gram)
- 60 gram unsalted butter
- 100 ml full-cream milk or whole milk
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 60 gram cake flour / superfine flour
- 20-gram cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 egg whites (Update: I measured mine, it was 264g for the whites of 6 eggs)
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 70 gram castor sugar (This is half of the total 140 gram)
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C / 392°F (Top and bottom heat, no fan force), at least 20 minutes before sending your cake batter into the oven for baking.
- Grease 8″ x 3″ cake pan with butter, line bottom with baking or parchment paper
- Whisk cream cheese till smooth over a warm water bath
Add yolks and whisk
Add half the sugar (70 gram) and whisk
Warm milk and butter in microwave (high, 1 min) or stove, whisk into batter
Add salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and whisk
Remove from the water bath, sift cake flour and corn starch and fold into a mixture
- Whisk egg whites at low speed till foamy
Add cream of tartar and beat at high speed till bubbles become very small but still visible
Gradually add the balance of 70 gram of sugar and beat till soft peaks
- Fold whites into batter 1/3 at a time
- Pour into the cake pan and tap the pan on the counter to release air bubbles
- Bake with water bath on the bottommost rack in a preheated 200°C / 392°F for 18 mins, then lower to 140°C / 284°F for another 30 mins (let the heat in the oven to drop gradually with the door closed) and turn off the oven and leave the cake in the closed oven for another 30 mins. Remove water bath and open the door of the oven slightly at the end of the baking for another 30 mins for the cake to cool.
- Egg – Size: large, I measured mine, it was about 118g in total for the yolks. Separate the yolk and white by using cold eggs. By the time you’ve finished preparing the cream cheese batter, the egg whites are just nice to beat into the meringue.
- Cream Cheese – I used Philadelphia throughout all my Japanese cheesecakes, hence, I am not sure how other brands of cream cheese work for this recipe.
- Sugar – Caster sugar is slightly finer than fine granulated sugar if you cannot find caster sugar, lightly grind the fine granulated sugar to break them smaller. Do not use powdered sugar as it contained cornstarch.
- You may replace 60g of cake flour with 55g All-Purpose Flour + 5g corn starch.
- Flavor - You may change the flavor to vanilla by replacing the lemon juice and zest (in the Cream cheese batter) with 1.5 tsp of vanilla extract.
- Cake pan – I recommend that you use a 3″ tall non-black round cake pan of an 8″ (maybe this cake pan is a good fit, found in Amazon). If you cannot find a 3″ high cake pan, then replace it with a 9″ round cake pan with at least 2.5″ tall. Use a 1-piece punch-out cake pan, not a springform pan or any other seamed pan.
- Grease & Pan Lining – grease the side of the pan with butter and line only the bottom of the pan. If you want to line the side of the pan, please grease the parchment paper after lined.
- Batter – the cream cheese batter after adding flours and before folding into meringue should be a little warm, about 40-50 °C.
- Meringue is in the soft peak stage, do not overbeat it. I shared a video on my Facebook page about the stage of peaks from the Martha Stewart page, watch it and follow Craft Passion’s Page if you haven’t done so.
- Leavening - There is no baking powder in the recipe since it is using the meringue method. DO NOT add any baking powder into your flour.
- Cream Of Tartar - Cream of tartar is a natural meringue stabilizer. If you do not have the cream of tartar, replace it with 1/2 tsp of lemon juice.
- Meringue folding *** VERY IMPORTANT *** – folding egg white meringue to cream cheese batter needs to be gentle to minimize the deflation of tiny pockets of air in the meringue. Make sure both batter and egg whites are well incorporated and come together.
- Batter filling – only fill Japanese cheesecake batter about 15mm (1/2″) from the rim, if you have extra batter (it shouldn’t be a lot left), discard it.
- Water bath- Use a roasting pan of about 2″ high and at least 11″ diameter. Place a small towel on it to act as a layer of thin insulation for the cake pan so that the bottom is well protected from direct heat. Fill hot water to about 1″ high after placing the cake pan on the roasting pan and send it into the oven.
- Oven – this is crucial and very important. The temperature stated in the recipe is in-oven temperature. Each oven is different so if you are not too sure if the temperature inside your oven is accurate as what you have set at the control panel, get an oven thermometer to check. The brand of my oven is Electrolux (model EOB307X-1), it is measured with 10 °C shies, so I have to set 10 °C higher at my control panel in order to get the required baking temperature.
- Cool-down – After the cool-down period with the door closed for 30 mins, I open the oven door to remove the water bath, put the cake back into the oven, and open the oven just a tiny bit (about 10mm). I use a mitten to stop the door from closing back. Removing the water bath is optional but I find that it will prevent the bottom of the cake from being wet by the condensation. *Note: if you want a jiggling cake and do not bother to have a cake with wrinkle top and sides, you may take the cake out without having sitting for this extra 30 mins cool-down time.*
- Unmold cake – The cake pan should be able to handle by bare hand after cooling off in the oven with the door slightly open for 30 mins. Use a cake board to cover the cake pan, invert the pan, and carefully remove the pan. Remove the bottom liner and place another cake board or plate on the bottom of the cake, invert it back. The cake should be soft and fluffy and jiggly when it is still warm. Leave it to cool before sending it into the fridge. The final cake size after shrinkage is about 7.5″ x 3″ (highest point)
- Cake serving – Decorate the top with snow powder or icing sugar. Cut the cake with a warm knife, wipe the knife clean before the next cut. Buy Hello Kitty Cake Stencil, here (Update: this one has sold out, get the equivalent.) or other designs.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 174mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 7g
This is an estimated value based on my ingredients, it may be different if you are using different brands. This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 5/3/2019.