More often than not, I just can’t make a pretty cake to save my life. Whether it’s underbaking, water leaking, over soufflé-ing, overbrowning, etc., I have yet to make a cake whose appearance I am truly 100% happy with. The same goes for my ongoing mission to perfect the look of my Japanese cheesecakes; I even took extra precautions to make sure it comes out looking perfect this time, like greasing and lining the tin, sieving the batter, baking low and slow… all for it to bake perfectly for the initial 20 minutes or so, followed by an exponential growth in the vertical direction. It puffed up majorly, which a soufflé is bound to do, but simultaneously formed crevices the size you’d fine in Antarctica on the top – there goes my post title ‘picture perfect Japanese cheesecake’.
So I tried to make up in taste where looks fail, and did what is rarely done, which is to fill a cheesecake. It kind of makes sense, as this style of cheesecake is light as a sponge cake and so is much easier to handle than if you were to try and fill a traditional baked cheesecake. Also I have to say that this recipe is probably the best out of, I don’t know, ten that I’ve tried; there’s not one single pocket of unmixed meringue or any lumps, and is satisfyingly fluffy with a mild tang of the cream cheese. Why line up for an Uncle Tetsu when homemade cheesecakes easily rival it?
Japanese soufflé cheesecake sandwich (6″)
For the cheesecake:
110g cream cheese
60g whole milk
20g unsalted butter
20g cake flour
15g corn flour
54g white sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice or pinch of cream of tartar
For the filling:
50g heavy cream
1/2 tsp icing sugar
2 tbsp jam
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 6″ round tin and place it on top of a towel inside a larger tray, and fill the larger tray with an inch of cold water (the towel just stops the tin sliding around). If using a loose bottomed/springform pan wrap foil around the pan securely, though I find that water still manages to seep through so I use a one piece tin.
Gently melt the cream cheese, milk and butter together in a double boiler/bain marie or hot water bath and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yolks, doing it quickly to avoid scrambling. Add the sifted flours and whisk till smooth. Beat the whites and sugar together by hand (I find it easiest to control the stability of the meringue that way) on top of the double boiler from earlier, whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice/cream of tartar and beat until glossy and still droopy, closer to medium peaks than firm.
Pour the batter into the prepared in from a height, then tap the tin a few times to release air bubbles. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes at 180C, or until the top of the cake starts browning, then turn it down to 150C and bake for a further 40-45mins or until slightly jiggly in the middle when shaken. Cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from tin and cool completely, then transfer to the fridge to chill at least 4 hours before cutting/eating.
If filling, whisk the cream and sugar together until stiff peaks. Add vanilla here if desired. Cut the chilled cake in half and spread the whipped cream in an even layer. Spoon on blobs of jam, and swirl into the cream. Replace the top of the cake, chill a bit to firm up the filling before slicing.