My first encounter with Japanese cheesecake was a few years back through the Miki Ojisan no Mise (ミキおじさんの店) chain that is available in several Asian countries. Japanese cheesecake is probably best described as soft and cottony, and a lot more like cheese-flavoured sponge cake rather being dense and rich. I love all kinds of cheesecakes, but the Japanese one is a little bit more guilt free than your regular New York style cheesecake.
This cake is definitely more time-consuming than regular NY cheesecakes where you just make the crust and dump the ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl. However, the results are worth it; the cake has a mild cheese flavour and it's light, so you can have more than one (or in my case, most of it!) without feeling too guilty.
Unfortunately this cake didn't turn out perfect on my first try; I neglected to use a springform pan because I thought that the cake would not stick, since I had already painstakingly lined the pan with parchment paper. However, I forgot that I would have to invert the cake, and I did so on a bare plate (as opposed to one lined with parchment paper), so the top golden brown layer stuck to the plate!! It was very devastating, as the top layer was actually very delicious. So my cake ended up being naked and pale, although it was still very good.
So here are my tips: do use a springform pan to save yourself a lot of trouble and tears, and make sure you melt the cream cheese well, as any lumps that remain will sink to the bottom of the cake and get in the way of the desired smooth texture.
Japanese Style Cheesecake
adapted from Diana's Desserts
250 g/9 oz cream cheese
50 g/2 oz butter
100 mL milk
6 large eggs, separated
60 g/2 oz cake flour
20 g/1 oz cornstarch
140 gr/5 oz granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
Prepare a 8" round baking pan by greasing and lining it with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Melt cream cheese, butter and milk in a double boiler until there are no lumps. Then cool this cream mixture by placing the bowl/pot in another bowl filled with cold water.
In a medium bowl, add cream of tartar to the egg whites. Whisk until the whites are foamy. Add the sugar, and whisk again until the soft peak stage is achieved.
To the cream mixture, mix in egg yolks, salt, and lemon juice. Then gently sift the flour and cornstarch into this mixture.
Add the flour mixture into the egg whites gradually, and mix gently until everything is combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Prepare a bain-marie and place the cake pan in it; I used a large pan and filled it with enough water to make the cake pan float.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Take out the cake pan from the bain marie and cool the cake completely in the pan on a metal rack before serving.