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 I think those are outdated.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!
Japanese Cheese Cake
- 250 g cream cheese
- Grated rind of 1 orange
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- 4 egg yolks
- 40 g corn flour
- 80 g coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla seeds
- 4 egg whites
- 120 g sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice
- Over a bowl of hot water, melt the cream cheese and milk. (I just use a thermomix at 50C at speed 6)
- Cool down and add the grinds, corn flour, egg yolks, vanilla seeds, and coconut cream.
- Beat the egg whites and sugar with the cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
- Divide the egg white meringues into 3 portions, folding in one portion at a time.
- Wrap a foil around the cake tin, line a tall cake tin on the sides and the bottom.
- Bake at 140C for 1 hour.
- When done, keep the door ajar and let it cool down in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Transfer to room and then to the refrigerator and refrigerate overnight.