East meets West: A Japanese cheesecake and sponge layered celebration cake
If you’re a fan of cheesecake but have never tried Japanese cheesecake (chiizu keeki) before, all I can say is that you really don’t know what you’re missing.
Japanese cheesecake is pure unadulterated pleasure – it’s soft, pillowy, creamy goodness – and what gives it its unique, velvety, gently cheesy creaminess is that it’s baked in a bain-marie (water bath) in a very low oven, making it super soft, super moist and super delicious.
It also uses cake flour, which is quite hard to find in the UK, so I played around with the flour and corn flour quantities and am pleased to say that it turned out perfectly! Other than tweaking the quantities of flour as a substitute for cake flour, I based the Japanese cheesecake recipe from a blog I found called Christine’s Recipes – it is a wonderful blog filled with a mix of Asian, Chinese and Western recipes.
However, as much as I love Japanese cheesecake on its own (BTW, it’s incredibly moreish!), there have been times when I have wanted to give it a bit of ‘oomph!’ and so today’s recipe is the result of that.
This Japanese cheesecake-inspired sponge layer cake is my very own creation, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while because I am planning a surprise party for a dear friend soon, and I wanted to create something that was different, that most people in the UK probably wouldn’t have eaten before, and something that looks celebratory and tastes divine.
How can I best describe this cake to you?
Well, overwhelmingly, it is incredibly light!
Japanese cheesecake is in itself really soft and fluffy but I didn’t just want to make a cheesecake, I wanted to make a cake, complete with scrummy frosting and all.
Therefore, what I did was to make some Japanese cheesecake and some vanilla sponge, and created a layered cheesecake / sponge cake with a very, very light frosting using whipping cream, icing sugar and some lemon juice to keep the light theme going throughout.
I road tested this recipe with some of my friends this weekend and I’m very pleased to say everyone loved it, so much so that my girlfriend went back for seconds!
A word of warning; because of the two different types of cake you have to make and the amount of cooling time required, you’re looking at a whole afternoon’s worth of baking but trust me, the end result really is worth it.
I had to take most of my pictures at night, hence the darker shots.
Start by making the Japanese cheesecake first, then the sponge cake and finally make the frosting when all the cakes have cooled.
Because of the freshness of the ingredients and the whipped cream frosting, this cake is best eaten within 1-2 days if you’re not going to keep it in the fridge.
In all honesty, we devoured this cake within 24 hours so I genuinely can’t tell you how long it would last for… . It’s actually a cake that tastes best when it’s been in the fridge – Japanese cheesecake is best eaten nicely chilled.
Hope you like it!
Lots of love
Japanese cheesecake and sponge layered celebration cake
The quantities below should allow you to make 2 standard loaf sized cheesecakes. In my case, I filled 3 x 18 cm sandwich cake with some left over to go into a sandwich tin as well.
Christine’s blog provides wonderful instructions and step-by-step images so rather than recreate it on my blog, I recommend you visit hers for the full instructions: Christine’s Recipes.
For the cheesecake:
250ml full cream milk
250 grams cream cheese
60 grams butter, softened
6 (large) egg yolks
6 (large) egg whites
50 grams of plain white flour (all-purpose)
25 grams of corn flour
Zest of one lemon, finely chopped
½ teaspoon of cream of tartare
130 grams of castor sugar
For the vanilla sponge (makes 2 x 18cm sandwich cakes of which I used one for the final cake)
130 grams self-raising flour
130 grams castor sugar
130 grams of softened, unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
For the whipped cream frosting
300ml whipping cream
1 cup icing sugar
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
To make the Japanese cheesecake
Line your cake tins with baking parchment and preheat your oven to 150C.
Sift your flour and corn flour together until well combined.
Set a bowl over simmering water (don’t let the simmering water touch the bowl), and add your cream cheese and milk together. Whisk/mix until the cream cheese completely dissolves into the milk.
Remove from the heat and add your butter, stirring until the butter melts completely.
Allow the mixture to cool slightly before whisking in the egg yolks, one at a time to ensure that it mixes completely.
Gradually whisk in your flour/corn flour, ensuring there are no lumps, before finally mixing in your lemon zest.
In another bowl or using a stand mixer, whisk your egg whites to form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartare and sugar gradually and keep whisking until you form a stiff, meringue mixture.
Fold your meringue mixture into your egg yolk/cake mixture.
Fold them together until well combined and then pour your cake batter into your cake tins.
Sit your cake tins in a baking tray filled halfway with boiling water and bake in the oven for about 50mins to 1hr. Leave the oven door ajar for 10 minutes before removing the cakes and allowing them to cool completely.
The top of the cheesecake will turn golden brown and may crack a little. When you peel the parchment away from the sides, you should however reveal the creamy white, soft cheesecake.
To make the vanilla sponge
Preheat your oven to 180C and line 2 cake tins.
Cream your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add your eggs, one at a team, continuing to beat the mixture. I would ensure at least 30 seconds to 1 minute of beating before you add each egg. Then add your vanilla essence and milk and beat in.
Finally, add your self-raising flour and fold in well.
Distribute your cake mixture evenly between the tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool completely before making the frosting.
To make the frosting
Whisk your whipping cream until they form peaks. Add your icing sugar and continue to whisk before adding your lemon juice.
Use immediately or store in the fridge straightaway.