At one point of my life, I was so intrigue by cheesecakes. That must be 30 years ago, when cheese cake was really a novelty to Singaporeans. Even my dad, who was an accomplished baker did not know much about it.
The best cheesecake one could get in the 1980s was that from Hilton Hotel. You can still buy it today. But I’d say it is an ‘old-fashioned’ cheese cake.
Even though I had a good teacher, I still could not make good cheesecakes. Every time I saw someone who sold cheesecakes, I would pester them for a recipe. Those were the days internet was not dreamed up yet. I managed to get my hands on the Hilton cheese cake recipe, and they say, the rest is history. Friends and family would ask for my cheesecakes.
At that time, I knew how to make ‘old fashioned cheesecakes’ very well. So well, that I started to bake and sell them for pocket money when I just started work to supplement my income. I had a little shop that sold cheesecakes in a fitness center. However, that business fell through when my partner decided to leave Singapore to study hotel management in Switzerland.
And that’s how I became a corporate person. I could well have become a cake shop owner of sorts. That endeavour gave me an insight into running a cake shop. Very little insight, but it is always good to have some. I subsequently drew upon the experience in my many entrepreneurial attempts, it was precious lessons learned.
I came up with 100+ different cheesecake recipes when I was doing that shop. I was young, just into my twenties and full of ideas. In fact, when I did my master degree, one of my projects was about running a cake shop, and I scored a high distinction for that course. I enclosed samples of my products with the paper submission. My lecturer remembered it even 20 year later, when he became the associate dean of the management school in the university. Not sure if it helped, but he hired me to be a faculty member subsequently.
So here’s my R&D attempt on the Japanese cheesecake.
It is not your cottony Japanese cheesecake that is circulated around the web. I don’t really like those, and I am skeptical how those can be baked by novice bakers. Only experts can churn out great looking cakes like they do in those blogs. It is also not your Hilton hotel dense, dense super rich cheesecake. I think those are outdated. People don’t seem to like to eat so much cheese these days, and cream cheese is expensive. When I went about concocting this cake, I wanted it to be a cross between the old fashioned New York cheesecake and that cottony one. And very much like the Japanese cheesecake that are sold in bakeries.
So my little project this afternoon, as I am coding, I just drew some ideas. Mixed the batter and checked out if it worked. It came out beautiful. Did not crack, did not fall, did not shrink.
Hope you’ll enjoy as I did. It is soft, moist, baked like a traditional American cheesecake, mixed like a Singaporean sponge cake, and eaten like a Japanese cheesecake with strong lemon-orange taste. Don’t know if Japanese cheesecake is the right name. But oh… who cares. I call it what I like. Enjoy!
250g cream cheese
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
4 egg yolks
40g corn flour
80g milk/coconut cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 egg whites
100g caster or raw caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice
- Over a bowl of hot water, warm the milk and melt the cream cheese. (I just use the thermomix at 50C speed 6).
- Let the mixture cool, and add the egg yolks, rinds, corn flour, vanilla essence. Never overbeat this mixture, or it will fluff up like a soufle, and then sink like Titanic after that.
- Meanwhile, make a meringue by beating the egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar to stiff peaks.
- Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture 1/3 at a time.
- The cake tin must be lined on the inside, and covered on the outside with foil.
- Put the cake tin into a bain marie.
- Bake for 60 minutes in a 140C oven, towards the last 15 minutes, watch very carefully. If it starts to crack, open the oven door, and let it cool off, and use the residual heat to cook off the remaining part of the cake.
- The cake is not your flour cake (take note of ingredients) it is a custard of sorts, so having a bit of a soft middle is still ok when you open the door.
- When cooled to about 70C, return to the oven at 150C and brown the top. (You don't have to do this if your cheese cake did not crack)
- When done, turn off the oven heat and let the cake cool down with the door ajar for 10-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, then into the refrigerator overnight.