Indulge in the Dreamy Texture of Japanese Cheesecake

The first time I tried a slice of Japanese cheesecake, I had never tasted anything quite like it. The texture—bouncy and fluffy—was so different from the dense, rich American cheesecakes I was used to.

Slice of Japanese Cheesecake Resting on a Pie Server on a Plate With the Rest of the Cheesecake

Japanese cheesecakes are characterized by their light and airy texture, thanks to the lofty meringue mixture that gets folded into the cream cheese base. While this style of cheesecake may seem intimidating to make, the steps come together fairly quickly and result in a simple, yet impressive dessert.

Japanese Cheesecake on a Plate and Garnished With Powdered Sugar and Berries
Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Japanese-style cheesecake, sometimes referred to as a soufflé cheesecake or cotton cheesecake, has a texture that’s irresistibly soft and fluffy. Compared to a classic New York-style cheesecake, Japanese cheesecakes are minimally sweet and much lighter thanks to the whipped egg whites that are folded into the batter at the very end.

As the name suggests, this style of cheesecake originated in Japan. Japanese pastry chef Tomotaro Kuzuno is said to have created the dessert after a trip to Berlin in the 1960s where he tasted käsekuchen, a local German cheesecake.

In addition to Japanese cheesecake’s light and jiggly texture and toned-down sweetness, there are a few other differences between the dessert and New York-style cheesecake. For one, Japanese-style cheesecake does not have a crust. There’s also no need to bring the ingredients to room temperature since the dairy is heated in a double boiler before being combined with the remaining ingredients.

On a Small Plate, a Slice of Japanese Cheesecake With a Bite Size on the Fork Next to It, Served With Halved Strawberries
Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

In this recipe, the combination of three types of dairy—cream cheese, heavy cream, and sour cream—make for a rich and velvety custard, while whipped egg whites provide a dreamy, souffle-like texture. If you follow the recipe and these simple tips, you’re assured success:

  • Like many cheesecake recipes, this one relies on a water bath (bain marie) while the delicate cake bakes in the oven. The pan of hot water surrounds the cheesecake, acting as a buffer for the direct heat of the oven. A water bath helps to ensure that the custard bakes evenly and gently.
  • In order to achieve the perfect fluffy texture, I don’t recommend substituting homemade cake flour (all-purpose flour mixed with cornstarch) for this recipe. Homemade cake flour has a tendency to weigh down the batter. Instead, seek out actual cake flour at the grocery store.
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer, the meringue can be easily made using a hand mixer. Whichever mixer you use, it’s crucial that the bowl is completely clean and dry before the egg whites go in. This ensures that the egg whites and sugar whip up properly into stiff peaks. The meringue is what gives the Japanese cheesecake its characteristically cotton-soft texture.
  • Make sure to line your pan completely using the instructions below. This will ensure that the cake does not stick and has room to grow above the top of the pan. It also makes it easy to remove the cake from the pan before serving.
Slice of Japanese Cheesecake Resting on a Plate With the Rest of the Cheesecake
Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Japanese cheesecake doesn’t need much accompaniment. If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the cheesecake and serve with fresh berries.

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 (8-ounce) block full-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 of a lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (60g) cake flour
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
  • Berries, for garnish, optional
  • 1 (8×3-inch) round cake pan
  • Roasting pan
  • Stand mixer
  1. Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:

    Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×3-inch round cake pan with butter.

    Cut a sheet piece of parchment paper into 4 strips: two 16 1/2 x 2-inch strips and two 16 1/2 x 4-inch strips.

    Grease the two 2-inch strips and crisscross them in the center of the pan, greased sides down, so they make an “x” in the bottom of the pan. Press them into the edges and up the sides (this creates a sling that will help you remove the cake from the pan once it is baked).

    Line the bottom of the pan with an 8-inch round piece of parchment. Grease one side of each of the 4-inch strips of parchment and wrap them around the inside walls of the pan with the greased sides touching the sides of the pan. They will overlap and create a collar that is higher than the rim of the cake pan. Set aside while you make the cheesecake.

    Round Cake Pan, Buttered and Covered With Two Thin Sheets of Parchment Paper (Making an X) for Japanese Cheesecake Recipe
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    Round Cake Pan Lined With More Parchment Paper for Japanese Cheesecake Recipe
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  2. Separate the eggs:

    Put a kettle or pot of water on to boil. You’ll use this for the water bath later.

    Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the yolks in a small bowl.

    In One Large Bowl, Egg Whites, and Next to It, a Smaller Bowl With Egg Yolks. The Shells on the Counter.
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  3. Combine the dairy and sugar:

    Place a large saucepan with 1 inch of water in the bottom over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In a large, heat-safe bowl (that sits snuggly on top of the saucepan), add the butter, cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Set the bowl over the simmering water.

    Stir with a whisk until the cream cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.

    Cream, Butter, Sour Cream, and Cream Cheese in a Heat Safe Bowl, Sitting on a Pot of Water (Double Boiler Method) for Japanese Cheesecake
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    Cream Cheese Mixture Whisked Together Using the Double Boiler Method for Japanese Cheesecake
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  4. Finish the cream cheese base:

    Whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla extract, then whisk in the egg yolks one at a time.

    Sprinkle cake flour over the batter and whisk to incorporate. Don’t overmix.

    Egg Yolks Whisked Into Cream Cheese Mixture One by One
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    Pile of Sifted Dry Ingredients in the Bowl of Cream Cheese Mixture
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  5. Make the meringue:

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they become opaque and foamy. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar while mixing, a spoonful at a time, and continue to beat on medium speed until firm peaks form. If you remove the whisk, the peak will hold upright but the tip will fold back on itself.

    Don’t overbeat the meringue, making it crumbly.

    Spoon Used to Add Sugar to Egg White
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    Meringue on a Stand Mixer Whisk Attachment and More Meringue in the Bowl Below
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  6. Fold in the egg whites:

    Using a whisk, gently fold 1/3 of the meringue into the cream cheese mixture just until no streaks remain. Be gentle to avoid knocking the air out of the egg whites. Repeat, incorporating a third of the meringue at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

    Meringue Carefully Whisked Into the Cream Cheese Mixture
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    Japanese Cheesecake Batter Added to Parchment Paper Lined Round Cake Pan
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  7. Bake the cheesecake:

    Place the cake pan inside a roasting pan that will fit the 8-inch pan inside. Place both pans on the middle rack inside your preheated oven. Carefully pour a few inches of hot water into the roasting pan, careful to not get water on the cheesecake, until the water is halfway up the side of the cake pan.

    Bake the cheesecake until the top is golden brown and set, about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for 15 minutes. Crack the oven door slightly (you can use the handle of a wooden spoon if needed) and allow the cheesecake to sit inside for an additional 15 minutes.

    Hot Water Added to a Roasting Pan With the Cake Pan on It
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
  8. Cool and serve the cheesecake:

    Remove the water bath and cheesecake from the oven. Lift the cheesecake out of the water bath and place it on a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature for an hour.

    Using the parchment paper strips, gently lift the cheesecake out of the pan. Peel the parchment off from around the sides. The cheesecake can be served at room temperature or chilled. If desired, sift powdered sugar on the cake before serving. A serrated knife is the best for making clean slices.

    Refrigerate the cheesecake, covered, for up to 1 week, freeze for up to 1 month. If freezing the cheesecake, defrost overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

    Love the recipe? Leave us stars below!

    Baked Japanese Cheesecake Resting in Cake Pan on a Cooling Rack
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    On the Cooling Rack, Parchment Paper Removed From Japanese Cheesecake After Lifted From Cake Pan
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe
    On a Small Plate, a Slice of Japanese Cheesecake With a Bite Size on the Fork Next to It, Served With Halved Strawberries
    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

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