We've all known cheesecake so much that it is easy to get hold of either a recipe or a slice of it virtually anywhere.
However, the Japanese had been very clever in claiming their fame to it by reformulating the recipe and re-introducing another way of enjoying cheesecake. And the Japanese cotton cheesecake was born!
The patronage is steadily growing although it has not yet reached the same level of stardom as the New York style cheesecake and it's not hard to see why. The tehcnique is tricky and prone to failures. Hence, most bakers would rather stick to the well-tested American formula.
As I was testing various formulations, a few things were taken into account determining the success of the recipe:
- When beating the egg whites, do not be tempted let the meringue become very stiff. Beat it until soft peak stage. It's the same method I employed when making the Brazo de Mercedes. Over-beating causes the protein cells to swell up so much eventually it will collapse as it continues to expand in the oven.
- Most recipes will say 160° C and it may really be dependent on the type of oven you have. For your own safety, start with 100° C - the reason is this: baking bain-marie style is not far from baking with steam. You need a slow but steady supply of heat at boiling point or just a little above it. The more heat applied, the faster the cake rises. Since the whipped egg whites form the major component of the Japanese cheesecake structure the application of high heat allows faster expansion of gasses until the structure reaches breaking point and then it collapses.
- To achieve a finer texture, give extra care in mixing the ingredients avoiding the introduction of excessive amounts of air.
- Lastly, to prevent too much shrinkage leave the cake in the oven when its done but with the oven door ajar.
In this recipe that is part of my upcoming book I tapped on the favorite Arabian beverage "Lemon & Mint" in the form of a curd. To even further the exotic blend of flavors, one that you can't help having seconds, I developed a special base made of caramel and salted biscuits (salt and caramel are just a perfect couple). Traditionally, Japanese cheesecakes are baked without a crust.
The lemon and mint curd sits on soft caramel revealing as a surprise as you cut into the cake. The richness is balanced out by the lightness of the cake - almost like cotton.
Watch out for the full recipe in my upcoming baking book.