Category Archives: Cheesecake

Making Cheezoo-Kaykee

I’m not going to call this chiizukeiki or Japanese cheesecake, I’ve decided. I’m going to call it “cheesecake surprise.” Because let me tell you, I put a bite of this into my mouth convinced that I already knew what it was going to taste like…but I was completely surprised. For Japanese cheesecake has the feel of a dense soufflé or angelfood cake, but it has none of the dryness those sorts of egg foam-heavy foods can have. Instead it’s entirely moist, lightly sweet and smooth, and it vanishes off the tongue almost instantly, leaving nothing but a hint of New York behind. Remarkable.

For the record, this is not the Japanese cheesecake I’d hoped to make. I made a fairly significant — but not fatal — mistake that we’ll get into as we go along. For now, start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then prepare an 8″ springform pan according to the directions in the Techniques menu, and secure a pan large enough to hold the springform (this will be your water bath).

So then, start by placing your cream cheese, butter and milk in a microwave-safe bowl.

I know what you’re thinking: something looks different here, there are some colors in this picture than I’m not accustomed to on Joe Pastry. Well, the good folks at Trudeau kitchenware sent me a box of new toys recently, and these are some of them. No, Trudeau isn’t paying me to use and/or speak nicely about their products. But they gave me these things for free, and in exchange I’m only too glad to blog about them a bit (I hope you’re paying attention, high-end auto manufacturers!). This bowl with the spout and the broad lip is really pretty neat. It also has little rubber pads on the bottom that keep it from slipping around.

But where was I? Oh yes, zap the ingredients in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, stir and do it again until the mixture looks about like this.

Now then for the egg yolks. Put them in a bowl and add the lemon juice (if you happen to have one of these nifty little squeezable bowls — also from Trudeau — that’s great).

Whisk the two together and pour into the cheese mixture.

Whisk all that together.

Next, whisk together the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) in a small bowl. No, Trudeau didn’t give me this little mini-whisk, in case you were curious. Cool though, isn’t it?

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the cheese mixture…

…and whisk it in.

Now for the egg white foam. Combine the sugar, salt and cream of tartar in a bowl and whisk them together.

Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip…

…and whip them until they’re foamy. Add the sugar mixture all at once…

…and whip the mixture to the soft peak stage. Add the cheese mixture and, with the machine on low, stir it in.

This is the point where I made the mistake. I over-whipped the foam. See how those mounds are sitting there on the top? They shouldn’t be rigid like that — a sign of stiff peaks — they should just melt right back into the main mass soon after they drip off the whisk. What are the consequences of over-whipping? You’ll see.

Now then, pour the batter into the prepared pan (it’ll fill it up).

Put the cake pan into the larger pan and add hot water until the cake pan starts to want to float.

Bake it for 45 minutes, then check to see if it’s done. The top should be firm, browned and non-jiggly. If not, bake another 5-10 minutes.

Now then, see how high this cake is over the lip of the pan? That’s nothing. It was a full inch and a half higher when I took it out of the oven. It rose WAY too much. That was a result of the over-whipping of the whites.

What’s the upshot of that (no pun intended)? A sort-of mushroom shape like this:

Why does an over-risen cake end up like that? Because in the heat of the oven the very bottom, being immersed in the water bath, sets up quickly and firms. So does the top, being exposed to hot air. The middle, well, that’s another story. The middle is the last part of the cake to firm because it’s furthest from the heat. Consequently, the middle is where most of the expansion happens.

As the bubbles in the batter expand, the top goes up. That’s a good thing. However if there are too many bubbles the top goes up, up, up, but the sides and middle get weaker as the bubble walls stretch. The top stays up as long as the cake is hot and the bubbles are fully inflated with steam. However as the cake cools the steam pressure drops. The bubble walls aren’t thick enough to support the weight of the top, which starts to come down. At the same the side walls get sucked in as the crumb contracts.

End result: this rather odd shape. Nobody at the picnic knew I’d messed up. I told them it was supposed to look that way. It also tasted great. But next time I’ll know to stop whipping those whites. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Filed under:  Japanese, Pastry | 35 Comments

Japanese Cheesecake Recipe

This mixing technique is a little unconventional, but heck, I’m game:

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter
8 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 egg yolks, room temperature
2 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) cake flour
1 ounce (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 325 and line an 8″ springform pan with parchment paper. Separate the eggs. Combine the cream cheese, butter and milk in a micorwave-safe bowl and using as many 10 second bursts on high as necessary, melt the cream cheese and butter until you have a homogenous mixture. Stir between each burst, using the residual heat to do most of the work. Allow the mixture to cool. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt together, then whisk into the mixture. Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together, then whisk that into the cheese mixture. Lastly, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip, whip the egg whites until they’re foamy. Add the cream of tartar and all of the sugar and whip the mixture to soft peaks. With the machine on low, add the cheese mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, place the pan in a water bath, and bake for about 1 hour, until the cheesecake is puffed and well browned on top.

Filed under:  Japanese, Pastry | 28 Comments

How to Make New York-Style Cheesecake

So OK, it’s not straight-up New York. I added a cookie crumb crust at the last minute. But it looks pretty good, n’est-ce pas? It tastes good too. And that’s coming from a guy who really isn’t wild about cheesecake. This is a very simple thing to prepare and it goes like this…

Preheat your oven to 350 and set a rack on a middle shelf. Prepare your springform pan according to the How to Prepare a Cake Pan for Baking post to the right. Have it standing by along with a roasting pan or other shallow baking dish. Put on a kettle or pan of water to simmer. Have all your ingredients at room temperature.

Combine your cream cheese, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer…

…and beat several minutes until smooth and creamy, scraping once or twice during the process. Add in your vanilla and beat about 20 seconds more. Scrape.

Then beat in the eggs one by one, again, scraping once or twice along the way.

When all the eggs have been incorporated, add the sour cream in three additions, and — you guessed it — scrape! Mix a few seconds more.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Set the pan on two cris-crossed pieces of aluminum foil and bring up the ends to form your “boat”.

Put the foil-lined pan in a larger shallow pan, and add an inch or so of simmering water.

Bake 45 minutes at 350, then turn off the oven and — without opening the oven door — bake for an additional hour as the oven cools. You should have something that looks about like so:

Allow the cake to cool for at least an hour at room temperature, then chill it for a minimum of six hours, preferably overnight. The next day, remove the ring and the parchment paper, slice and serve.

OR, add a crust. Yes, you can add on a graham cracker crust if you want to before you bake it. That will make things a little easier as well as help the cake release from the pan. But here’s my problem with standard graham cracker crusts: they’re very sweet and awfully buttery (this cake is plenty rich as it is), but more than that they just get soggy, which means they offer little in the way of a counterpoint to the filling. Solution? Pat on some cookie crumbs just before serving. But first ya gotta flip the thing over. Apply some plastic wrap, then a cardboard cake circle to the top:

Flip the cake over and take off the pan bottom and the parchment.

Pat on some crushed cookies. You can use just about anything. What are these? Why, animal crackers. Hey, I’ve got kids, I use what’s handy. I like them because they’re very crispy and light without being intensely sweet. For those of you in other parts of the world who don’t have access to animal crackers, tea biscuits (which Natasha over at Sweet Discovery suggests you toast before using) are a close equivalent. Spread them all around, patting them down only lightly.

You could add crumbs to the side at this point, but I prefer to flip the cake first. The longer the cake sits upside down at room temperature, the greater the risk that the top will stick to the plastic wrap.

So then, apply another upside-down cake circle and flip your cake circle sandwich over.

Press the cheesecake down lightly to push the crumbs onto the bottom of the cake a bit. Remove the first circle and the plastic wrap — see? the cake is no worse for wear — then…

…apply more cookies crumbs to the sides:

Slice and serve!

Filed under:  New York, Pastry | 4 Comments

New York Cheesecake Recipe

A true New York-style cheesecake has no crust. Which is not to say you can’t add one if you like, but let’s worry about that a little later on. This recipe is dense and creamy, just like a New York cheesecake is supposed to be. Note that the reason for the creaminess is not an abundance of cream cheese, but an abundance of sour cream, which serves not only to cut the fat content way down, but to introduce a very pleasant tang. I make this cake in a nine-inch springform pan, however if you’re the type of person that prefers your cheesecake very tall, you can use an eight.

1 lb. 2 ounces cream cheese
7 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 lb. 8 ounces sour cream (you can also use heavy cream, or any combination of the two)

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before you start. Set your oven to preheat at 350 while you line your pan with parchment paper (for more on that, see the post How to Prepare a Cake Pan for Baking under the Techniques menu). You’ll also need to have the elements of a water bath nearby: a shallow pan big enough to hold the cake pan, plus a tea kettle or pan of water set over heat. You’ll also need some tin foil to create a “boat” for the cake pan.

Now then, for the batter. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the cream cheese, sugar and salt and beat on medium speed for about four minutes until the mixture is light and creamy, scraping the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is combined. Beat in the vanilla, then, one at a time, beat in the eggs (again, don’t forget to scrape the bowl). Once you’re satisfied that everything is homogenous, turn the mixer down to medium-low and start adding the sour cream by scoops. Scrape and stir until all is combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Set the pan on cris-crossed sheets of tin foil and bring up the edges to form a “boat” that will prevent water from seeping in. Put the cake pan into the larger baking pan and place it on a center rack in the oven. Slide the oven rack with the pan out part way, and carefully pour in enough simmering water to come about half way up the sides of the cake pan. Close the oven door and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and — without opening the oven door — let the cheesecake bake for one more hour as the oven cools. Take the cheesecake out of the oven (it should be slightly jiggly but not at all soupy in the center), cool it on a rack for another hour, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator overnight.

Filed under:  New York, Pastry | 1 Comment