Serves: 10 to 16
Oven Temperature: 300˚F/150˚C
Bake: 45 to 55 minutes
I had discovered Japanese Cotton cheesecake many years ago on my first trip to Japan when I was researching my first article for the New York Times about eating desserts in Tokyo.
More recently, a blogger inquiry, a preliminary Woody test, and off by email to Singapore via Anncoo’s Hobby blog site where Woody corresponded with Anncoo to develop this recipe. We both agreed that Anncoo’s version of this cake had the perfect texture but we wanted it to give it a lemon flavor. The addition of the lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil was added and then extra sugar to balance the delicious tang. If you love lemon as much as we do, you will want to top the cake with a thin layer of lemon curd (as pictured above).
Plan Ahead For the best flavor, compose the cake 1 day ahead.
Special Equipment One 8 by 2 inch square pan, lightly coated with shortening and topped with an 8 by 8-inch square of parchment paper. For the sides make a 34 by 3 inch wide band of parchment, creased at the 8, 16, 24, and 32-inch intervals. Press it against the inside walls and fit it into the creases in the corners of the pan. Use shortening to coat the overlapping ends to hold them in place.
One 12 by 2 inch round pan or roasting pan to serve as a water bath; optional: 2 teaspoon cream of tartar (if the pan is aluminum)
Preheat the Oven
Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack on the lowest level of the oven. Set the oven at 300˚F/150˚C.
Mise en Place
* About 1 hour ahead, set the eggs, butter, and cream cheese on the counter at room temperature (65˚ to 75˚F/19˚ to 23˚C).
* Weigh or measure the egg yolks and egg whites. Place the yolks in a bowl and the whites in a bowl of a stand mixer.
* With dish washing liquid, wash, rinse, and dry the lemons and zest them.
* In a small bowl, weigh or measure the lemon juice.
* Mix the Cake Flour and Cornstarch In a small bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch onto a sheet of parchment paper.
Make the Batter
Make the Custard Mixture
1) Set a large metal bowl with a rounded bottom on top of a large pot to serve as a double boiler. Heat the water to a simmer. Place the milk and the butter in the bowl and whisk the mixture until the butter has melted.
2) Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Remove the bowl from the ‘double boiler’.
3) Add the sifted flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4) Add the egg yolks and the vanilla and whisk until smooth.
5) Return the bowl to the pot. Heat the mixture, stirring gently with a silicone spatula, reaching to the bottom of the bowl to stir in the liquid as it starts to thicken at the bottom and sides. An instant-read thermometer should register 135˚F to 140˚F/57˚ to 60˚C).
6) Immediately scrape the custard mixture into a large bowl and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil. The mixture will look like thin pancake batter. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent evaporation and skin formation.
7) Cool to lukewarm (105˚ to 110˚F/41˚ to 43˚C) for about 30 minutes. The meringue incorporates best when the base batter is lukewarm.
Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue
8) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites and the 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise the speed to medium high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.
9) Gradually add the sugar and beat just until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.
10) Add 4 cups of water to the large pot. Heat the water until it is almost simmering.
Complete the Batter
11) Lift off the plastic wrap from the custard and squeeze any of it that clings to the plastic wrap back into the bowl. Whisk the custard mixture to a uniform consistency.
12) Use a large balloon whisk to whisk the custard lightly and then to fold half of the meringue into the custard mixture until almost evenly incorporated. (From time to time shake out the mixture that collects in the center of the whisk.)
13) Fold in the remaining meringue until no streaks remain. Use a silicone spatula to finish folding, reaching to the bottom of the bowl to be sure that all of the custard mixture is incorporated.
14) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will come up almost to the rim of the pan. Use the spatula to smooth the top.
Bake the Cake
15) Fill the water bath up to 1 inch with the heated water (150˚to 160 ˚F/66˚ to 71˚C). If using, whisk the cream of tartar until it is completely dissolved.
16) Set the prepared springform pan into the larger pan. Add more water, if necessary, until the water reaches half way up the sides of the pan.
17) Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes. The cake will rise above the rim of the pan but will be supported by the parchment. The cake is done when the top is a pale gold, a wire cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. An instant-read thermometer should register (150˚to 160 ˚F/66˚ to 71˚C).
Cool and Unmold the Cake
18) Remove the pan from the water bath and set it on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the parchment and the cake, pressing firmly against the parchment rather than the cake.
19) After 30 minutes, remove the parchment by pulling it up and out of the pan. Cool for another hour or until completely cool.
20) Set the pan in an airtight container or tent and secure a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil to the pan’s sides to cover the cake without touching the top of the cake.) Refrigerate for six hours to overnight.
Serve the Cake
21) Place a piece of parchment, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, on top of the cake and invert the cake onto a wire rack. If the cake does not release, reinvert it and use a pancake turner to press the cake sides gently away from the sides to release it.
22) Remove the bottom parchment and reinvert the cake onto a serving plate. With a serrated knife, square off the sides of the cake.
23) Cut the cake with a knife heated in water and wiped dry. (For most cheesecake recipes, we recommend using dental floss for cutting slices. Do to the texture of this cake, we recommend using the heated knife.)
Store Airtight: refrigerated, 5 days. Do not freeze as the texture will become less smooth.