Saturday, March 12, 2011
Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake and French Chocolate Macarons for a rainy afternoon. I wish I was one of my kids. Just sayin'.
We all deserve something nice in the day to perk us up. For me, it's definitely a good cake or pastry, accompanied by a cuppa. Like this Japanese Cheesecake. :) Some of you may remember that I made it recently for my friends who came over for tea. Since that day, my daughter has been badgering me for an encore. No, I said firmly. I have so many other things I want to try baking ... and left it at that. However, things started going in her favour, when one after another, four of my friends tweeted about their Japanese Cheesecakes. Temptations, temptations ... so I sighed and caved in.
Well, here it is ... appearing for the - gasp! - third time on my blog. The ever popular Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake.
You know why I love this cake so much? Unlike other cakes where I needed practice to get right, this cheesecake turned out beautifully from the very first time I attempted it ... so it's got a special place in my heart. :)
I thought I'd share some tips today because I receive many blog-related emails ever so often, and honestly, I have given up replying. I do feel apologetic because people take the time to write, but I simply can't cope. Blogging is a hobby, not a job. My family is my job. So, I have decided that this is probably the best way to address all those "Ju, please help!" questions. Best I can do.
Ready? Here goes.
(reprinted here from my old post, and originally from Diana's Desserts)
- 140g fine granulated sugar
- 6 egg whites
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 50g butter
- 250g cream cheese
- 100ml fresh milk
- 60g cake flour (can also use plain flour)
- 20g corn flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven at 160°C. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, salt, egg yolks and mix well.
2. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
3. Add the egg whites to the cheese mixture to and fold well. Pour into a 8-inch round springform cake pan or removable-bottom cake pan (lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper). Wrap the base of your cake tin with aluminium foil, to prevent seepage ... although I never do, and it has never seeped! ;)
4. Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hour 10 mins or until set and golden brown at 160°C.
5. Leave to cool in oven with door ajar, about 30mins to 1 hour. Sudden changes in temperature may cause the cake to cool too quickly and collapse.
Now, for some extra tips. These work for me, and I hope they work for you too! :)
Tip #1 : Beating the egg whites
You can beat your whites on high until they start to stiffen, but for the last 3 to 4 mins of whisking, do switch your mixer speed to low. This helps to stabilise the air bubbles. I notice I get a "foam sponge" texture when I do this (as you see in the first photo). When I beat on high throughout, I tend to get larger air bubbles, resulting in texture that looks like this:
Yikes, how I hate looking at my old photos! Ewwww!
Either way though, you get a cottony soft cake which is extremely easy to eat and eat. And eat.
Tip #2 : Sieving the cream cheese batter
This is totally optional, but because I am anal a perfectionist, I want a lump-free, smooth as silk batter. So once I have combined my cream cheese mixture with the flour and yolks, I usually strain it using a wire mesh sieve. After that, I fold the beaten egg whites in. I repeat, sieve BEFORE you fold in the egg whites ... otherwise, you can say sayonara to your cake!
(Left) Cream cheese that has been melted with butter and milk. There are still some visible small lumps even after a lot of stirring.
(Right) After adding flour and yolks, I sieved the batter to ensure a lump-free batter.
Tip #3 : Baking in a water bath
God, I hate this. It's so troublesome! Plus, there is always the risk of water seeping in, and even if it doesn't, your cheesecake tends to get a little damp. I want my cake fluffy, not damp. So this is what I do ...
Cake tin goes on the rack, in the middle.
I place tart moulds which have been filled with water, in the four corners of my oven. They provide the sauna effect but do not add dampness to the cake. Why not a tray of water, you ask? Well, with a tray, you still get condensation at the bottom of the cake tin. With individual tart moulds placed around the cake, your cake's bottom will always remain dry. <- I sound like a diaper ad!
Tip #4 : Lining the cake tin
Line the bottom and sides of your cake tin. Make sure the baking paper extends higher than the cake tin by about 1.5 inches. If you prepare the batter correctly, you will notice that it rises very well during baking. You need that extra height from the baking paper to prevent possible spillage.
Tip #5 : Tenting with a foil
I recommend this 100% because the cake top browns very easily. I use a sheet of aluminium foil and loosely place it over the tin. That's why point #4 is important ... because if you do not provide ample room for the cake to rise, it will get stuck onto the foil. And when you peel it off? Urgh, not so pretty. So, tent the cake, and remove it only in the last 1 to 2 mins of baking time, just for it to brown (not burn).
Tip #6 Drier is better
Personally, I like to overbake the cake slightly (say, about 10mins more), to be on the safe side. A Japanese Cheesecake should be tear-away soft and fluffy, and to get that sort of texture, you need to have a dry-ish cake. As long as you follow #4 and #5, your cake will not burn. A drier cake is airier and less likely to collapse or shrink (you won't get those dreaded crease lines on the top). Finally, keep it in the oven, door slightly ajar for at least 30mins to an hour.
Well, that's all the tips & tricks I wanted to share. I hope you found them useful. :) For those of you attempting this for the first time, may you hit the jackpot and get your flawless Japanese Cheesecake! ;)
Sadly, my photos do not do justice to the cake - look at the horribly washed out colours. :( The cake is supposed to be a brighter shade of yellow, but then, it was a gloomy day ... so everything turned out depressing. Except the eating part. Heh.