Today we are making jiggly Japanese cheesecake aka a cotton cheesecake. With a pressure cooker. Because I do not have an oven and it is actually easier to bake a jiggly Japanese cheesecake with the pressure cooker than in the oven (no water bath needed). This is different from a New York cheesecake which uses a lot more cheesecake and is a denser, more flavourful and heavy cake.
When baking with a pressure cooker you can pour it into the inner pot, or put it in a baking tin. With this recipe you can do it with either. With the baking tin, you get a more cake-like structure but you need to do the extra work of prepping the baking paper. Both outcomes are similarly delicious and addictive.
Here are the ingredients for a 7-inch cheesecake. I’m including the brands I used for each ingredient. You can follow or replace them with your favourite brands:
- 80 g Full Cream Milk (Good Day)
- 140 g Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)
- 40 g Butter (Emborg)
- 60 g Plain Flour / All Purpose Flour (storebrand)
- 20 g Corn Flour / Corn Starch (storebrand)
- 5 large fresh eggs (weighs 58-60 gr. each with shell)
- 100 g Fine Sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
(1) In order to retrieve your cake in its entirety you need to grease and line your 7 inch cake tin with baking/parchment paper at the bottom and on the sides. If you are baking with the inner pot, grease the pot with butter, at the bottom and 3 inches up the sides. You do not need to preheat the pressure cooker.
(2) For the sides, make sure your side baking parchments extend 1 cm (no more) above the height of your pan. For some reason if the baking paper is too “tall”, the side of the cake will collapse as it shrinks. Too short and the cake sort of “overflows” over the rim and again, you end up with a not so pretty cake.
(3) You need an exit plan for how to remove the baking tin. The clippers I have could not fit into the small space between my baking tin and the inner pot. You could build like a carrier or lift thing out of aluminium foil like what I did here, except that the foil would probably tear before you could get your cake out, which happened to me.
The way I eventually get the baking tin out may get your fingers burned. I lift one side of the baking tin with a fork, then pull it out with a mittened hand. It gets the job done, and there is a slight dent to one corner of all my cakes but you won’t notice it if you aren’t paying attention. So there.
(4) Bake time is around 59 minutes. I usually need 30 to 40 minutes to prepare the ingredients so you will need to block out 2 hours (or less) for this cake.
(5) Look up “how to fold whipped egg whites into batter” before you start. This is very important. Watch videos on how the experts do it. Watch a lot of videos.
For me, folding is quite painful to learn. I don’t know how many failed cheesecakes I had made because I failed at folding. Look up how to fold whipped up egg whites into batter on Youtube or baking sites if this is your first time. It takes some practice. Okay, it takes a lot of practice on my part.
(6) Before you start baking, add your corn starch to the flour and mix them well. Sift three times if time permits, sift at least once if it doesn’t.
1. Let the cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature (this needs 3 hours or 10 seconds in the microwave).
2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. If this is your first time, be sure to:
– Use a clean bowl for the egg whites. There shouldn’t be a drop of water in the bowl for whipping the egg whites.
– Not have any of the egg yolks in the egg whites. Otherwise, the whipping of the egg whites will fail spectacularly. I learned this the hard way. It is okay to have egg whites in the egg yolk.
– Add cream of tartar to the egg whites before whipping, especially if you are new to this.
3. Mix together the melted cream cheese and butter first. Be sure to mix well and don’t leave any lumps in. Add some of the milk if the mixture is too thick.
Once the mixture is no longer warm, add the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Don’t throw all the ingredients in in one go, doing bit by bit makes the mixing a lot easier albeit slower. Think of the end result.
4. To this batter, sift the flour and corn starch bit by bit, in 3-4 different batches. Mix well after every addition.
5. Sift this combined mixture into another bowl.
Whipping the Egg Whites
1. Whip up the 5 egg whites with 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. Whip and low speed for 1 full minute.
2. Add the 100 g of sugar in multiple batches as you whip the egg whites. The first one-third of sugar should go into the egg whites only after you have beaten the egg whites for a minute. Gradually add the rest and stop after you have obtained stiff peaks AND a condensed milk consistency (it takes around 5 to 7 minutes, depending on what speed you use).
Combining The Two
1. Take a quarter of the whipped egg whites which at this point is more like foam than something solid or liquid, and add it to the batter (from the previous section). Mix it any way you like. Go crazy. This is just to dilute the batter so that it is easier to fold.
2. Next, fold the whipped up egg whites into your batter, this time in one-third portions at a time. My favourite technique that I learned online is to turn the bowl a quarter of the way every time I fold. So my bowl makes a full 360 degrees every four times I fold. For every one-third I put in, I fold 20 times (yes, I count it). This is an easy-to-follow foolproof plan that only works if you know how to fold (take from the bottom, drop it back to the top, your wrist will be making full circles).
3. Once you are satisfied with the folding, pour the concoction into your already-greased inner pot or into your already-lined-with-baking-paper baking tin. With the baking tin, just put it straight into the inner pot. You do not need to raise it on anything else, you do not need to put any water in. The baking tin is in direct contact with the inner pot.
4. Remember to lift and drop the pan (or bang the side of the pot gently with a wooden spoon) a few times to get rid of bubbles inside before you put it into your PPC to bake. You can stop when the surface is as smooth as it can possibly be. Don’t take too long with this.
5. Select BAKE mode, set the timer for 59 minutes. Keep the regulator at SEAL. Once the timer has started, when it counts down to around the 20-minute mark, turn the regulator to BAKE. Sometimes it depressurises a bit (you hear a hiss), sometimes nothing happens.
Getting the Cake Out
If you are baking with the tin, once it is done, open the lid to snap your picture then close it back up. Leave it in Keep Warm mode for 2 minutes.
Then, open the lid and remove the cake from the pressure cooker. This open-and-shut step is important to prevent too much shrinkage of the cake. (I explain why this is in my follow-up post.)
Remove the parchment, turn it over and remove the bottom parchment, take some pictures and jiggle with it (because this recipe is for a JIGGLY cake, so it MUST JIGGLE). You can look at the before and after pics to see how much shrinkage is involved.
If you are baking directly in the inner pot, once it is done, open the lid, take a pic and watch it shrink. Keep it in Keep Warm mode. Once the shrinking has stabilised or has stopped, remove it from the pressure cooker and turn it outside down to take the cake out.
The End Result
Here’s what inner pot baking looks like once the baking time is over. As you can see, the cake rises up to Level 9 (Rice).
Here’s what it shrinks to once it cools down. Yes, it shrinks all the way down to Level 4.
And this is when it is out of the pot and on the way into my stomach. (Don’t mind the line on the surface, I had an “accident” trying to get it out of the pot. It was during the early days of baking.)
I have since stopped baking directly in the inner pot not because it doesn’t taste good (it tastes heavenly) but because after putting all that hard work in, you want to see a beautiful cake, not a flat tyre in front of you. Or maybe that’s just me.
When baking with a tin, you get results like this. Hey, it’s looking back at you. I haven’t figured out how to ensure a smooth surface although to be honest, I do not think it is possible since the condensate from the batter drips from the inner lid back into the batter while it is baking.
Note that when baking with a PPC, it is the side that touches the bottom of the baking tin that is “burned”, while the top side remains a beautiful burn-free yellow (below).
In the pictures below, you can see the side of the cake “wrinkle” and be all groovy with us (I do not apologise for bad puns, deal with it).
When the shrinkage is great, you will get cakes that look like they are in the middle of deflating (like above). Keep trying.
And sometimes you get a cake that actually stands up proper, like it is proud to be a cake. Still, keep trying.
I cannot fathom how many times I have tried this recipe over and over again to perfect it to the point where I feel like I can finally let go and retire from all this baking nonsense.
I kid, I still love baking (it isn’t nonsense, it is Science!) but once I’ve gotten the recipe and the method the way I want it, the obsession is no longer there to keep trying. And this was the last original flavour Japanese Cheesecake I baked. So far.
I will be writing a follow-up post on what other Japanese Cheesecake flavours you can try with pretty much the same recipe as the above, and some troubleshooting (FAQ) that can help you produce a better end result.
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