This Jiggly Japanese cheesecake recipe is the ultimate fluffy, souffle-like cheesecake that some refer to as Japanese Cotton cheesecake due to its unique texture. The jiggly cheesecake consists of a few basic ingredients you probably already have at home, the most important part of the recipe is the actual technique that I will teach you!
What is Japanese cheesecake
Japanese jiggly cheesecake (soufflé style cheesecake, cotton cheesecake) has a characteristically wobbly, airy texture similar to a soufflé when fresh out of the oven and a chiffon cake-like texture when chilled.
The recipe was created by Japanese chef Tomotaro Kuzuno who was inspired by käsekuchen cheesecake (a German variant) during a trip to Berlin in the 1960s. It is less sweet and has fewer calories than standard Western-style cheesecakes, containing less cheese and sugar. It is a crustless cheesecake and traditionally made in a bain-marie (water bath) similar to most baked cheesecakes.
Since I visited Japan in 2019 and tried the famous Ricuro´s cheesecake in Osaka I want to bring this fluffy Japanese cheesecake recipe to you so that you can make it at home no matter where you live in the world! The Ricuro cheesecake has raisins on the bottom as you can see in this picture, however, it is not strictly necessary from a baking technique point of view.
Why this is the best recipe
While making Japanese cheesecake the perfect result we are looking for is a tall, evenly risen fluffy cake that has no cracks on the top, holds its shape, and its texture is similar to a souffle; creamy and airy at the same time. It is not too sweet, in fact, literally feels like eating the clouds from the sky.
Please make sure you follow the recipe in order to avoid typical mistakes such as cracked top, soggy inside, deflated structure, burnt top, etc.
Reasons why this is the best recipe
- It has the perfect creamy & airy texture – This fluffy Japanese cheesecake has the most perfect texture no other cheesecakes. The secret behind its unique texture is 1. using low protein content flour & starch mix 2. whipping and incorporating the egg yolk and white separately 3. baking at low temperature
- It comes together super quickly using everyday ingredients - The recipe is made of using a few basic ingredients like cream cheese, butter, milk, sugar, and flour and comes together in 10 minutes, however, don´t confuse quick with easy. This is one of the recipes that I tested the most, so do not be disappointed if your first attempt will not look quite perfect. Keep practicing, it´s so worth it!
- It is super delicious – What does Japanese cheesecake taste like? Imagine a pillowy melt-in-your-mouth texture that is only lightly sweet, rich like a cheesecake but airy and fluffy like a soufflé. It has elements of both a rich custard and a light, airy sponge cake
- It is an honest, detailed tutorial – While this 6-inch Japanese cheesecake recipe might look long, all the information I have written here, every tip and trick will help you achieve the perfect results without any issues on the way. Remember, baking is science, and every little detail written here is to help YOU!
- Cream cheese: I always use the Philadelphia tub (the European version) when I state cream cheese in my recipes. I find it easy to cream and very pleasant in taste, I suggest using the full-fat version
- Milk: Whole milk is the best, definitely avoid using milk substitutes for this recipe unless you are aware of how to reformulate the recipe
- Butter: Use always unsalted butter as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be at room temperature, this is an exception. Since butter will be heated, it is fine to use it straight out of the fridge
- Flour & Cornstarch: I suggest using pastry flour, which is low in protein, combined with cornstarch for the fluffiest results. Perhaps it is not called pastry flour in your country, however, you can identify low protein flours by looking at the flour pack and checking the protein %
- Sugar: I recommend using superfine sugar that you can either buy or make at home by pulse blending granulated sugar until it breaks into tiny pieces. Please do not skip this step, granulated sugar and powder sugar can cause an extra potential issue while making the meringue, superfine sugar is exactly what you will need
- Egg: Use room temperature eggs as always. You will have to separate the egg white from the yolk. Make sure that you do not get egg yolk into your white as it can totally break the meringue and therefore the entire recipe
Exact ingredient quantities can be found at the bottom of this page, in the RECIPE CARD.
4 Expert Baking tips
1. Step-by-step process
Assembling the jiggly cheesecake is super easy, but a step-by-step process.
- Make the superfine sugar by pulse blending granulated sugar to superfine sugar then measure
- Measure all other ingredients with the help of a Digital scale and prepare your baking pan
- Pre-heat oven to 150C / 302F
- Separate egg yolk and egg white. Make sure you use room temperature egg white that is absolutely free from any sort of fat (e.g. egg yolk). If you get some egg yolk into the egg white in the process of separating, start again. It is easier to separete fresh eggs, so try to use those
- Heat cream cheese, butter, and milk in a saucepan on low heat until completely smooth. Remove from the stove as soon as the mixture is smooth, you do not need to cook it
- Sift dry ingredients (flour, corn starch, salt) into the cream cheese mixture and mix in throughout just until combined
- Start whipping egg white while adding superfine sugar to it slowly. Add one tablespoon of sugar in at a time while the mixer is on. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer, it does not really matter however you have to pay close attention to the meringue
- You will want to whip the egg white until soft peaks form, not stiff peaks. A soft peak is the optimum stage for the meringue while making Japanese cheesecake for two reasons. 1. It is easier to fold with the rest of the ingredients 2. It will continue to expand in the oven while baking. Stiff peaks can result in Japanese cheesecake collapsing straight after baking.
- Once egg white reached soft peaks, gently fold into the egg yolk flour mixture. Make sure that the batter stays fluffy, do not deflate it too much
- Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared baking pan
- Place baking pan into water bath
2. What is bain-marie (water bath)
Bain-marie (water bath) is a common method to bake cheesecakes or Crème brûlée.
A water bath is simply a tray of hot water placed in the oven. A regular oven typically would produce rubbery texture crème brûlée or cheesecake with cracked surfaces. Using a water bath has two important benefits:
1. The water bath adds moisture to the oven and this is important to avoid cracks on top of the Japanese cheesecake
2. The water bath also provides a more even baking as opposed to the side baking too quickly and the middle would stay raw
While preparing the water bath, make sure the water does not go into the cheesecake so the water level should be lower than the side of the baking pan.
I have tried different kinds of bain-marie and the one I recommend using is a few cm bigger springform or baking tin, fill ⅓ with water and place it into the oven while preheating the oven. In this way, the baking tin with the cheesecake in it will be "surrounded" by water all around and the water level will come up rather high around the baking tin which works much better, than just a simple large baking tray filled with water. Place this springform into a bigger tray so the water certainly won´t end up in your oven.
Please note that with water inside the oven you have to be super careful with the baking temperature as if it is 10-15C lower than recommended, your cheesecake will stay raw even after 1,5h. That brings us to the next topic.
3. How to bake
I have tried several ways of baking this cheesecake and find the best if I bake it in two stages, first at a higher temperature that encourages the rise, then at a lower temperature that helps achieve evenly baked souffle-like texture. Please note that baking is the most critical part of this recipe, and somewhat you might need to use your own judgment considering your own oven. If you happen to run into an issue along the way, please see my Recipe FAQs section below for solutions.
Two important considerations, regarding oven temperature;
- The temperature on paper - if it’s too low, it won’t bake especially this super fluffy, tall Jiggly Japanese cheesecake however if the oven temperature is too high, the cake will rise too fast resulting in cracks on the top. I find the ideal oven temperature is starting with 150C / 302F (no fan) until the cheesecake is nicely risen then reducing the temperature to 110C / 230F (no fan) and baking for another hour. Your cheesecake should not brown too much at this temperature and if you are unsure, I would rather over-bake the cheesecake than under-bake.
- The second consideration is your REAL oven temperature - what do I mean on that? Most home ovens and over or under heat and for delicate desserts, like this cheesecake, it can be fatal. See my oven for example. The oven temp dropped when I opened the door and I had to turn my oven to 180C / 356F in order to quickly heat it back up to 150C / 302F. In my recipes, I always state the real oven temp using my Digital oven thermometer. I strongly suggest that you also make sure about your real oven temperature particularly when it comes to recipes like this Jiggly Japanese cheesecake or other delicate pastries like eclair, macaron, etc.
Please note that you have to test your own oven and find the sweet spot where the oven temperature is high enough so the cheesecake will properly bake, but not too high, so it won´t break.
4. How to serve
Once the cheesecake is nicely baked; remove it from the oven, flip it over with the help of a plate, then flip it back with the help of another plate.
Please note that the cheesecake will be jiggly only for a few minutes, straight after baking. During this time the cake is super fragile, make sure that you do not break it.
Over time, as the cheesecake cools, it will further set into a chiffon cake-like consistency, will lose its jiggly texture and some wrinkles might appear on the top, which is normal, and exactly how the Japanese cheesecake I tried in Osaka also behaved.
It is common to dust the top of powdered sugar, other than that I do not really feel the need to serve it with anything. I prefer to enjoy its unique texture and mild cream cheese flavor on its own, it is so special, will blow your mind!
I recommend using a 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan and this is definitely not the recipe that you want to double and bake in a huge pan unless you are super experienced and aware of how to bake a huge, souffle-like cake. Line the bottom and side of the baking pan with parchment paper so it will be easy to remove the cheesecake from the tin once it is baked. I would avoid using loose base spring form as during the water bath, it is very easy to get some leakage and ruin the whole cheesecake.
This is 6 inch Japanese cheesecake recipe. I intentionally make this cheesecake in a 6 inch / 15 cm pan because the bigger the pan the more difficult it is to bake the souffle-like cheesecake throughout. Of course, you can try to bake it in a smaller / bigger pan, however, you will need to adjust the ingredient quantities and baking time accordingly.
Most probably yes, you can, however, you can´t just leave out / change an ingredient without reformulating the entire recipe. When one ingredient changes, some other ingredients need to be changed too in order to keep the balance in the texture and flavor. Sadly, I am not able to provide substitutes for all sorts of allergies and diets.
This is the most common issue and the main reason for cracks is too high oven temperature meaning the cheesecake rise too quickly. As said above, it is so important that you measure the oven temperature and it is accurate! I find that in my oven if the second stage baking temp goes above 110C / 230F, there is a huge risk that the cheesecake will crack on top. You have to test your own oven and find the sweet spot where the oven temperature is high enough so the cheesecake will properly bake, but not too high, so it won´t break. In the picture below the oven temperature was too high
The cheesecake should not burn at 150C / 302F so most probably your oven is over-heat or burning too much from the top. You can try to move the cheesecake further down in the oven but most importantly, invest in an oven thermometer
There are a couple of reasons why your dessert can turn out to be raw, and fixing it requires different actions.
1. The souffle cheesecake is meant to set further as it cools, so if it is not super raw, it might even set in a few hours
2. If the dessert seems raw even after chilled, you most probably underbaked it. Under baking can happen for two reasons: either because of incorrect oven temperature (lower than stated in the recipe) or simply the cheesecake would have needed a bit more time in your oven. Make sure you invest in an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer if you tend to struggle with the baking part. Since the baking temp is 110C / 230F for the most part, if your oven is just slightly under-heat, it is very likely that the cake will stay raw
3. Another issue that can cause raw texture on your jiggly cake is measuring the ingredients inappropriately eg. adding less flour to the recipe. Make sure you use a Digital scale during baking, cups are not an accurate way of measuring for consistent results.
This issue is mainly caused by under-baked cheesecake. See the solutions above
Any leftover can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days
I do not recommend freezing this souffle-like cheesecake as its texture would change
More Japanese dessert recipes
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Mochi donuts - Mochi donuts, well known as Pon-de-ring In Japan, are delicious mochi-like ring shape donuts with a signature bouncy and chewy texture and colorful chocolate ganache glazings on top.
Matcha tiramisu - Equally appreciating Italian and Japanese cuisine, I created this matcha tiramisu aka matchamisu recipe! Airy homemade ladyfingers in between light mascarpone cream with light green tea flavor and a touch of matcha tea powder finish
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Hokkaido Baked Cheese tarts - Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts are the ultimate rich and creamy Japanese desserts with crunchy shortcrust tart base and distinct sweet and savory cheesy filling.
Jiggly Japanese cheesecake
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Start with preparing a 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan with parchment paper and pre-heating the oven with a water bath in it
- Pulse blend granulated sugar to superfine sugar then measure
- Heat cream cheese, butter, and milk in a saucepan on low heat until completely smooth. Remove it from the heat
- Sift dry ingredients (cornstarch, salt and flour) and fold into the cream cheese-egg yolk mixture. Fold until mixture well combined and without any lumps
- Start adding one tablespoon superfine sugar at a time really slowly while increase the speed of your mixer. Once all the sugar in, whip for a few more minutes until soft peaks form and the sugar completely dissolves. Remember, do not overbeat to stiff peaks, check the consistency of the meringue regularly to avoid over beating
- With the help of a Rubber spatula gently fold the meringue into the rest of the ingredients. The batter should stay fluffy
- Pour batter into the prepared 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan
- Bake the cheesecake in the water bath at 150C / 302F (no fan) for 30min then lower temp to 110C / 230F (no fan) and bake for another 60min. Make sure your oven is at the right temp by using a Digital oven thermometer
- Once the cheesecake is nicely baked; remove it from the oven, flip it over with the help of a plate, then flip it back with the help of another plate
- Enjoy while it is warm and jiggly, or serve it chilled withing 1-2 days
- Store in the fridge
- Use always unsalted butter in baking
- I suggest using full-fat cream cheese and milk
- For the flour try to look for low protein content pastry flour
- When separating the eggs, make sure no yolk goes into the white part as that would make it difficult to whip up
- While folding the ingredients, try not to deflate the batter
- The baking part is absolutely critical when making Jiggly cheesecake. The most common reason for the cheesecake top to crack is a too high oven temperature
- Make sure you use a water bath