Japanese Cheesecake (Regular, Chocolate, Cherry)

February  9, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes one 9-inch cake
Author Notes

Japanese cheesecake is truly miraculous, though it may nothing like any classic cheesecake you’ve had. True cheesecake isn’t a cake at all, but a custard, which is baked until set. Japanese cheesecake is actually a cake—and a delicious one, at that. It has elements of both a rich custard and a light and airy sponge cake. The resulting cake is the moistest sponge I've ever tasted. I also created two flavor tweaks to the recipe: chocolate and cherry, which just require a few swaps; they’re listed after the method in the recipe.

Featured In: Japanese Cheesecake Is Lighter, Spongier, Perfect-erErin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • 8 ounces (227 g) cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (76 g) whole milk
  • 6 large eggs, separated (213 g large egg whites and 128 g large egg yolks)
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) cake flour
  • 1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) fine sea salt
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar
  • powdered sugar and/or whipped cream, for finishing
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the sides and base with parchment paper (don’t grease the paper). Place the springform pan inside a deep casserole dish or other pan (you’ll be baking the cake in a water bath, so put a pot or kettle of water on to boil now and let it stay warm).
  2. Bring a pot of water to a simmer over medium heat. Place the cream cheese, butter, and milk in a medium bowl and place over the pot of simmering water.
  3. Heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and cream cheese are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the egg yolks and whisk well to combine. Sift the cake flour, cornstarch, and salt over the bowl and gently fold to combine. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  5. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip on medium speed until it becomes just becomes white, then stream in the sugar gradually and continue to whip on high speed to stiff peaks.
  6. Add about 1/4 of the egg whites to the cream cheese mixture (batter)—it’s ok to mix this in slightly more vigorously because it helps “temper” the base, making it easier to fold the remaining meringue in.
  7. Add the remaining meringue in 2-3 additions, folding gently until just combined.
  8. Gently transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread gently into an even layer.
  9. Transfer the pan to the oven, and pour the hot water into the casserole dish, ideally coming about 1/2 way up the side of the pan.
  10. Bake the cake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cake will be very puffy and the surface lightly golden.
  11. Remove from the oven and remove the cake from the water bath. Let cool completely before unmolding and peeling away the parchment paper.
  12. Garnish with powdered sugar and/or whipped cream to serve.
  13. Chocolate Japanese Cheesecake: Reduce cake flour by 3 tablespoons (21 g) and add 1/3 cup (28 g) unsweetened cocoa powder with the flour. Eliminate the lemon zest and juice. Cherry Japanese Cheesecake: Before you begin, measure 1/2 cup (113 g) cherry juice in a small pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and reduce to about 3 tablespoons (about 40g). Let cool to room temperature. Substitute this for the lemon juice and eliminate the zest.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Inez V. Be
    Inez V. Be
  • Cecília Mota
    Cecília Mota
  • Regine
  • Erin Jeanne McDowell
    Erin Jeanne McDowell
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

14 Reviews

RocylnHouse December 28, 2023
Natalie April 21, 2018
I can't believe I made this all the way through and forgot to add the flours and salt. I will try this again. Silly me.
Kendall February 25, 2018
I just tried the chocolate version of this cake- wonderful texture and lightness, but not enough cocoa powder. The cake was very light brown, with a hint of chocolate taste. I’d double the cocoa powder- or more.
Inez V. February 22, 2018
It mentions vanilla in the steps but doesn’t specify the amount. I guessed 1/2 teaspoon?
Al February 19, 2018
Won't the water leak into the springform cake tin? If so, i wanna know the best way to prevent this.
james P. September 17, 2018
tin foil. surround the bottom and sides of the springform pan, and up the sides... preventing water leakage...
joy May 15, 2020
wrap pan in foil
June R. February 18, 2018
Steps 4 & 5: Is the cornstarch added to both the egg yolk batter and the whipped egg whites- or just the batter?

Step 5: Should the cream of tartar be added to egg whites instead of the cornstarch?

Erin J. February 18, 2018
Sorry about that - should be clearer now!
Azza H. February 18, 2018
hi! I'm a little confused- starting step 4, do I remove the bowl or keep it over the simmering water? thanks!
Erin J. February 18, 2018
I’ve added a clarification! Thank you!
Cecília M. February 17, 2018
Hello again! About the sugar, 3/4 cup is around 150gr, so which one is correct, cup or grams? Thanks!
Erin J. February 18, 2018
Math problem - grams was correct and I’ve fixed it Inside the recipe now - thank you!
Regine February 13, 2018
I have a very similar recipe that I make from The Cotton Soft Japanese cheesecake! I add some vanilla extract to mine. It is indeed so good. For me, it is a cross between a chiffon cake and a cheesecake, but closer to the chiffon cake. I find that once it is out of the oven, it tends to deflate a little bit, so my trick to minimize this even more is to leave it in oven with door open for about 30 minutes or so.