Happy New Year!
To ring in 2016, I’m presenting the cheesecake I made for Christmas lunch – a Japanese cheesecake with strawberry compote.
If you’re wondering about the difference between a normal cheesecake and a Japanese cheesecake, the latter is much less dense and rich. This is due to whipped egg whites being folded into the batter, which lightens it and makes the cheesecake almost fluffy.
Now I do enjoy a baked cheesecake (that link is for a good version) although I do find them quite heavy. And to be honest, a baked cheesecake is not really the best dessert after a big Christmas lunch so this was a good compromise – decadent enough to feel special, but light enough not to put everyone in a dessert coma.
This was my first time baking a Japanese cheesecake and I came close to screwing it up – I didn’t take enough care with the foil and the waterbath leaked, soaking the cake. Yes, I gave my cheesecake a case of the soggy bottoms.
Fortunately I managed to salvage it by drying it out in a very low oven and a rest in the fridge overnight. It seemed fine when I served it after lunch – no one said anything anyway! – but the next time I make it I will be much more paranoid in ensuring the foil is watertight.
The cheesecake can be served plain, without a topping, but since it was Christmas I wanted it to look more festive and presentable, so I cooked up a strawberry compote and decorated it with some more fresh strawberries and a few fresh blueberries. Pretty and delicious.
- 250g cream cheese, softened
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g caster sugar, divided
- Pinch of salt
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1 packed teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 40g cake flour
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 250g fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat your oven to 170°C and grease the bottom and sides of an 20 x 8 cm springform pan and wrap the bottom half of the pan with a double layer of foil (note - it's really important this is waterproof). Set your prepared tin into a tall sided roasting pan.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, 2 tablespoons caster sugar, and salt on medium speed until it's creamy and combined (about 3 minutes), scraping down the sides with a spatula as required.
- Beat in the egg yolks and lemon zest until smooth, about another 30 seconds.
- Replace the paddle with a whisky attachment and whisk in the lemon juice and sour cream on medium speed, scraping down sides as necessary with a rubber spatula, until it's combined.
- Sift the flour and cornstarch over the batter and whisk until completely combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
- If you're using your standmixer to beat the egg whites, make sure you thoroughly wash and dry the stand mixer bowl and whisk.
- Using the mixer's whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until frothy. Slowly pour in the remaining sugar and continue to whip to soft peaks, ensuring you don't overwhip.
- Using a large metal spoon, fold in a spoonful of the egg whites to the batter mixture to lighten it.
- Add the rest of the egg whites to the batter and fold in with your metal spoon until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan and set on the oven rack. Pour about 5cm of hot water into the roasting pan and bake until it's golden and just firm in the center - about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave the cheesecake sitting in the waterbath for 30 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Then chill until set - a few hours - before spooning the cooled strawberry compote on top and decorate with the remaining fresh strawberries. Serve.
- Set aside half of the fresh strawberries for decoration.
- With the other half, put these into a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the strawberries for 3 mins or until dark red and syrupy. Cool before serving on the cheesecake.
Converted to metric from Serious Eats