Life’s a Feast: Japanese cheesecake


This version of cheesecake was one of my son’s favourites in Singapore. It is light, pillowy and delicate in contrast to its heavier Western relation. The softness or “bounce” is achieved by separating the eggs and whipping up the egg whites, thus giving them the nickname “soufflĂ© cheesecakes”. When egg whites are folded into the cream cheese mix, the airiness of the meringue gives the cake a lift that helps it to pillow up as it bakes. I have added a little twist of ground star anise but it is just as divine without it. The only problem with this cheesecake is restricting yourself to one slice. Enjoy!



140g fine granulated sugar
6 free range egg whites
6 free range egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
50g butter
250g cream cheese
100ml milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
60g flour
20g cornflour (1 heaped tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon ground star anise (optional but adds unique twist)
1 400g can of your favourite fruit (I used Doris plums but could use anything really or stew your own fresh with a little honey)


1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and place a roasting dish half-filled with water in the oven.

2. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler until fully combined. I used a glass bowl over a pot with simmering water. Cool the mixture. Fold in flour, cornflour, salt, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well.

3. Use an electric beater to whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy and soft peaks form.

4. Take a third of the whites and fold into the cheese mixture, then fold in another third of meringue. After incorporated, pour the batter back to the remaining third meringue and fold. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO FOLD GENTLY.

5. Pour mixture into a 20-22cm round cake pan (lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with grease-proof baking paper).

6. Bake cheesecake in the tray above the water bath for 1 hours 15 minutes or until set and golden brown.

7. Turn oven off but leave the cake in there with the door ajar for an hour or so. It may sink a little at this point but should only be a centimetre or two. If you remove immediately the temperature change may make it shrink dramatically. Also, if you have over-folded your egg into the cheese mix it may also cause large shrinkage.

8. Top with your favourite fruit just before serving and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve immediately else will go soggy.