In North America, when we think of cheesecake, we think of a slice of super dense, super rich, creamy, custard-based dessert.
In Japan, though, their default cheesecake is a slice of sweetness that’s much lighter than our own, yet still manages to be unbelievably creamy (and without all that stomachache-inducing richness)!
While there are maybe types of Japanese cheesecake, the origin of soufflé cheesecake probably lies somewhere in the fact that Japan takes most of its cues from French baking.
While North American baking tends to be sweet, dense, and leavened with baking soda, Japanese baking incorporates a lot of whipped egg whites, creams, and less sugar.
This is why you can’t find a decent chocolate chip cookie in Japan!
Also, good luck finding unsweetened sandwich bread, a decent cup coffee under 500¥, or a cafe that opens before 8am — seriously.
In the media Japan is often portrayed as this ever-productive, hyper-modernized country filled with tireless citizens, always ready to work, but their coffee shops and bakeries don’t even open until later in the day — go figure.
While it’s true that Japanese people have embraced a Western 9-to-5 lifestyle and often work long hours, I was always amazed at ways in which one could stumble upon little pockets of tranquility (usually in the form of shinto shrines or cafés), even in the busiest of cities.
I think that these peaceful places of relaxation help to keep Japanese people sane amidst the bustle of their lives.
That, and eating dessert, of course!
Soufflé Cheesecake • スフレチーズケーキ
*adapted from Olive via Latest Recipes
- 1 package cream cheese (225g/80z)
- 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup half & half cream
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup superfine/castors sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup cake flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
- whip cream and fresh fruit, for garnish
Separate the eggs while cold and allow them to come to room temperature.
Place a baking dish filled with water on the lowest rack and preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper that rises about 2 inches (4 cm) about the rim of the pan.
Sift together the cake flour and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a large skillet over low heat, melt the cream cheese, half & half cream, and canola oil and whisk together until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 cup superfine sugar together until pale and creamy.
Whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla. Whisk in the warm cream cheese mixture until the batter is smooth. Whisk in the sifted flours.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and white vinegar on high speed for 1 minute, or until foamy.
While still beating, slowly add the remaining 2/3 cup of superfine sugar and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks (see photo above for what a stiff peak should look like).
Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the rest of the batter until incorporated.
Try to smooth out any really large pockets of meringue with a spatula before pouring the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 70 ~ 75 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the pan.
Garnish with whip cream, fresh seasonal fruits, compote, chocolate sauce, or whatever you like!
Refrigerate any uneaten cake after half a day.
If you haven’t had soufflé style cheesecake before, it’s about time to try!
It has a completely different texture than North American cheesecake, and a more delicate, nuanced sweetness.
In the strictest sense, a Japanese soufflé cheesecake is actually more “cake-like” than our own cheesecake, simply because soufflé style cakes are actually leavened and don’t have a crust.
So how ’bout that for something deliciously different? Yum!