Japanese cheesecakes, sometimes called soufflé or cotton cheesecakes, have a melt-in-the-mouth texture that’s like a classic cheesecake crossed with an ethereal sponge cake. This one, adapted from Joanne Chang of Boston’s Flour Bakery, has bright lemon tanginess and crème fraîche richness as well. It’s best made the day before you plan to serve it, and will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Serve it plain and minimalist, with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar on top, or with fresh berries for added color and juiciness.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 3tablespoons/45 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 5large eggs, at room temperature
- 1cup/225 grams cream cheese
- ½cup/120 grams crème fraîche
- 1teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼teaspoon kosher salt
- ½cup/100 grams plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
- ½cup/65 grams cake flour
- 1tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Step 1Place rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Line bottom of an 8-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and butter only the bottom of the pan (so the cheesecake can rise). You can also use a springform pan; just wrap the bottom and sides with a double layer of foil, so the seams are covered.
Step 2Separate eggs. Place whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; place yolks in a small bowl.
Step 3Place cream cheese in a large metal bowl or double boiler insert and place over a pot filled with 1 inch of simmering water. Stir until cream cheese is melted and smooth. Whisk in crème fraîche and 3 tablespoons butter until well combined and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon zest, vanilla and salt. Whisk in egg yolks and 3 tablespoons/40 grams superfine sugar. Sprinkle cake flour evenly over the top, then whisk it in.
Step 4Beat the egg whites on medium speed until you start to see the wires of the whisk leave a trail in the whites. Slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons superfine sugar, a tablespoon at a time while beating. Continue to beat until whites are fluffy and hold a soft peak when beaters are lifted. Gently fold about one-quarter of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in remaining whites, taking care not to deflate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
Step 5Place cake pan in a roasting pan or other pan that is at least as deep as the cake pan; transfer to the oven. Fill the larger pan with enough hot tap water to come one-quarter of the way up the sides of the cake pan. (The cake is really light, so if you pour in too much water it may float.)
Step 6Bake until top of the cake is golden and doesn’t give when you press it gently in the middle, 35 to 40 minutes.
Step 7Turn off oven and crack the oven door so that it cools off. Leave cheesecake in the cooling-off oven for 2 hours so it cools slowly, which keeps the top from cracking.
Step 8Lift cheesecake pan out of water and place on a wire rack. Let cool for another 2 hours. Cheesecake will deflate slightly.
Step 9Run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from sides of pan. Remove sides of springform pan. If you used a regular cake pan, invert the cake onto a plate, lift off pan, peel off parchment, then invert it right side up on a serving plate.
Step 10Chill cake for at least 2 hours before serving. Cake can be stored, well wrapped, for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Sift confectioners’ sugar over top of cake just before serving.