Incredibly light and fluffy Japanese jiggly cheesecake that’s so soft it melts in your mouth. Made with a soufflé base and baked in a water bath, this jiggly cheesecake is the fluffiest dessert ever.
This post first appeared as my submission on Savory Experiments, where I’m a contributor.
Japanese desserts have a special place in my heart. They're always simple, very light and just the right amount of sweet. Similar to my Japanese Strawberry Shortcake, this Japanese Jiggly Cheesecake is easy to make, not overly sweet and melts in your mouth. You might also want to check out my favourite Japanese treats, Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi or Taro Mochi.
I’m convinced that when I say ‘cheesecake’ you think of creamy goodness, not a jiggly cake. Well, I’m about to blow your mind with a cheesecake that’s super fluffy and jiggles like a jelly. Let me introduce you to the Japanese cheesecake!
Light, fluffy and extra jiggly, Japanese cotton cheesecakes have the texture of an airy soufflé. The slightly tangy flavour of the cream cheese makes for a rich and creamy cake that doesn’t need any fillings.
So, what is a Japanese cheesecake?
Japanese cheesecakes are baked cheesecakes originating from Japan. Also known as fluffy cheesecakes, they are in fact like a single layer cake, dusted with icing sugar. Made with a soufflé base, this cheesecake is incredibly soft, like a mixture between a cheesecake and a sponge cake.
This type of cheesecake is known as a Japanese cheesecake, Japanese cotton cheesecake, soufflé cheesecake, fluffy or jiggly cheesecake.
Although now they are famous all around the world, these fluffy cheesecakes are incredibly popular in bakeries all around Japan and East Asia. In Japan this type of dessert is known as a soufflé cheesecake (スフレチーズケーキ or Sufurechīzukēki).
Just One Cookbook does a great job explaining all the different types of Japanese Cheesecakes (baked, rare and soufflé).
Japanese cheesecake vs. American cheesecake
Japanese jiggly cheesecakes are not at all like a conventional American cheesecake. Let me explain. Japanese cheesecakes are like a single layer sponge that contains cream cheese. Although they are known as ‘cheesecakes’, they are more similar to chiffon cake.
By contrast, American cheesecakes are like a creamy custard that’s either set in the fridge or baked. The texture and taste are very different from a Japanese cheesecake. Have a look at my Strawberry Crunch Cheesecake if you're on the look for a non-bake American cheesecake.
To sum up, don’t get fooled by the name: Japanese cheesecake are fluffy cakes, whereas American cheesecakes are creamy.
Why I love this cheesecake
Japanese jiggly cheesecakes are remarkably moist cakes that taste great on their own, without needing any fillings. From the first time I tried one, I realised why people are so in love with them. Japanese cheesecakes are:
- Moist, without needing any syrup
- Light and fluffy as a cloud
- Melt-in-your-mouth texture
- Sweet and slightly tangy
- Refreshing, ideal for summer
- Surprisingly easy to make
- Not overly sweet
- Perfect for all occasions
Let's talk ingredients. The main thing to remember about this Japanese cotton cheesecake is that it uses no leavening agent. All that impressive rise comes from the egg whites and the fluffy texture of this cheesecake comes from cream cheese.
Cream cheese – the main ingredient of this recipe. Use full fat cream cheese, with at least 30% fat (check nutritional label).
Butter - only a small amount of butter is needed. Ensure it's softened to room temperature before use.
Lemon juice – used to add a tangy flavour to the cheesecake. This can also be replaced with vanilla extract for a more subtle taste.
Eggs – really important for helping the soufflé cheesecake rise. I recommend using large eggs, free-range or organic. For a more stable meringue, use chilled eggs.
Cake flour – is essential to yield an extra soft cake. As Japanese cheesecakes are so delicate, cake flour cannot be replaced with all purpose or self-rising flour.
Sugar – used to add sweetness and help the meringue become more stable. This cake is not overly sweet, but the sugar can be adjusted slightly for a sweeter cheesecake. Alternatively, dust the cake with icing sugar.
How to make Japanese jiggly cheesecake
Making Japanese cheesecakes is simple, but it does require precision for best results. The ingredients need to be in exact quantities, which is why I recommend using a kitchen scale for this recipe.
Pro tip: sift the flour before adding into the batter.
- Combine the cream cheese, melted butter and hot milk. Mix in the egg yolks.
- Sift in the flour. Combine everything with a whisk or spatula.
- Whip the egg whites and sugar to soft-medium peaks. Add in lemon juice.
- Fold in the meringue into the cake batter. Use a sweeping motion to fold the batter in on itself.
Pro tip: Before folding in the meringue, sieve the batter to remove any lumps.
Baking the soufflé cheesecake
The secret of the jiggle in this soufflé cheesecake rest with the baking method. Unlike traditional baked cheesecakes, Japanese cheesecakes are baked in a hot water bath. The water created steam in the oven, making the texture very fluffy.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan. Ensure the pan is leak-proof by cover the exterior with aluminium foil. Place the cheesecake pan inside a larger, deeper tray.
- Pour boiling water into the larger pan, around 1-inch in height.
Bake the cheesecake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, then open the oven door for to release some steam. Releasing some steam prevents the cheesecake from becoming too soft.
Reduce the oven temperature to and bake for an additional 30 minutes. As this cheesecake is so soft, the skewer test will not be as effective. The cheesecake will be ready when it has a slight wobble, but it’s golden-brown on top.
- Always line the cake pan for an easier release.
- Measure ingredients carefully. I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for best results.
- Ensure the cheesecake mixture is lump free before adding the egg yolks. If there are any lumps left, use a double boiler to warm the mixture. Mix until there are no lumps left.
- Sieve the cake flour to avoid lumps. If the batter is still lumpy after mixing, sieve again to remove lumps.
- Use chilled eggs for the meringue. Cold egg whites yield a more stable meringue.
- Do not add all the sugar at once. Pouring all the sugar in can deflate the meringue. Add the sugar in thirds every 30 seconds, whilst mixing.
- Medium peaks meringue is needed for best results. A soft meringue will not yield a good rise, whereas a stiff meringue can also affect the rise.
- Always use a water bath when baking. The steam helps the soufflé cheesecake have a fluffy texture and prevents burning.
- Do not open the oven unless indicated. Releasing any steam too early can deflate the cheesecake.
- Let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door cracked ajar. This is particularly important in cold weather. The cheesecake can collapse if cooled too quickly.
- Follow the oven temperature indicated in the recipe.
Frequently asked questions
Japanese cheesecake is much easier to make than you would think. The baking process is a little more complex but will yield amazing results if followed correctly.
Yes, the cheesecake can be frozen for up to 3 months. For best results, cover the cheesecake in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminium foil to prevent freezer burn.
Soufflé cheesecakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. I do not recommend leaving this cheesecake outside at room temperature.
Japanese cheesecakes are best served after chilling in the fridge for a few hours. To serve, slice into portion sizes, dust with icing sugar or brush with apricot jam or honey. I also recommend serving it with a side of fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries.
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Japanese Jiggly Cheesecake Recipe
- 6-inch springform pan (16 cm)
- Larger pan (10-inch or more)
- hand mixer
- ¾ cup cream cheese (160 grams)
- ⅛ cup butter, softened (20 grams)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (10 grams)
- ¼ cup milk, hot (50 grams)
- 3 egg yolks, large
- ⅓ cup cake flour (40 grams)
- 3 egg whites, large
- ⅓ cup sugar (80 grams)
- apricot jam or honey, for brushing
- Pre-heat oven to 325°F (160 °C). Grease and line the springform pan with parchment paper on the sides and bottom.
- Combine the cream cheese, melted butter and hot milk in a bowl, mixing well. The cream cheese mixture should be like a smooth paste. Heat over a double boiler if there are any lumps left.
- Combine the egg yolks into the cream cheese, mixing well to incorporate.
- Sift in the cake flour, using a whisk to combine into the batter. If any flour lumps remain, sift again.
- Whip the egg whites using an electric mixer, in a separate bowl. Pour in the lemon juice once the mixture becomes frothy.
- Incorporate one third of the sugar into the frothy eggs, then keep mixing for 30 seconds. Add one half of the remaining sugar into the meringue, mixing for 30 seconds. Pour in the remaining sugar, mixing until the meringue reaches medium peaks.
- Fold in one third of the meringue into the cake batter, using a spatula. Use a sweeping motion to fold the batter in on itself.
- Fold in the remaining meringue without deflating too much air, using a spatula. Stop once the meringue is incorporated and the batter is fluffy.
- Prepare a cake pan by lining it with parchment paper on the sides and bottom. Pour the cake batter into the pan, then run a spatula through the batter to remove large bubbles.
- Place the cake pan into a deeper, larger pan. Ensure the cake pan is well lined with aluminium foil.
- Pour boiling water into the larger pan, around 1-inch in height. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, open the oven door for 10 seconds to release some steam. Releasing some steam prevents the cheesecake from becoming too soft.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F (100°C) and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. The cheesecake will be ready when it has a slight wobble, but it golden-brown on top.
- Let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes inside the oven, with the oven door slightly ajar. Afterwards, cool down and chill for4 hours before serving.
- To serve, either dust with icing sugar or brush with apricot jam or honey.
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
- Nutritional value is estimative and it is calculated per serving (this recipe yields 8 servings).