Japanese Cotton Sponge Cake


80 g milk
210 g cream cheese (Philadelphia cheese)
40 g butter
50 g flour
17 g cornstarch (Maïzena)
5 eggs
115 g sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
zest of one lemon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar (optional)


Preheat your oven to 160°C.

Butter the sides of a 20 cm pan and place a disk of baking paper in the bottom.

In a small saucepan (or in the microwave) heat the milk, cream cheese and butter over medium heat. Mix to obtain a homogeneous preparation. No need to heat too much, the goal is simply to melt the butter and cream cheese.

Use a large bowl to make the mixture, as the dough will take a lot of volume at the end of the preparation (once the whites have been incorporated).
Sift the flour and cornstarch and add to your first cream cheese mixture. Mix vigorously with a whisk until smooth.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks (the whites will be used later).

Add the 5 egg yolks, 25 g of sugar, the spoonful of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon to your batter. Mix again.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, with the cream of tartar if you wish to use it, using a food processor or an electric whisk. Gradually add the remaining 90 g of sugar to obtain a smooth and shiny meringue.

Add one third of the whites to your batter. Mix gently with a whisk, incorporating the whites without breaking them.

Do the same with the second and last third of the egg whites.

You must obtain a smooth paste. Check that the dough is homogeneous, the bottom of the bowl tends to be less well mixed.

Pour the batter into your pan, then tap it on your work surface to remove any large air bubbles.
Then place it in your double boiler (without water for the moment).

Boil some water and place your pan in the lowest tier of your oven. Pour the hot water into your water bath for about 2 centimeters. It’s easier and safer to do this than to carry around a dish full of boiling water.

Bake your Japanese cheesecake at 160 °C for 1 hour and 10 minutes in natural convection (do not use rotating heat). If your oven has a sole program it’s even better (cooking only from the bottom).

Once the 1 hour and 10 minutes are up, turn off your oven and leave your cheesecake in for another 45 minutes. This will prolong the cooking time before the cake falls gently.
If you don’t use cream of tartar, the cheesecake will tend to tear towards the end of the baking time and then fall apart. Whatever happens, don’t do anything, even if it’s not very aesthetic, it will fall back into place on its own.

Once it’s done baking, take your cheesecake out of the oven. Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan.
If it sticks a little on the edges, gently shake it from right to left, it should then come out by itself.

Now all you have to do is taste this famous Japanese cheesecake.

Store it in an airtight box at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Tips and advice to remember:

The cream of tartar is not essential to the realization of this recipe, it simply allows to stabilize the cooking of the whites to avoid that they fall down and that your cake does not collapse. The interest is mainly aesthetic, but don’t worry, it doesn’t change the taste if you don’t use it. It is an ingredient often used in the realization of the soufflés for example, to avoid that they do not fall down.
You can replace the lemon juice and zest by another citrus fruit (orange, pomelo, etc). You can also use a little vanilla extract to flavor your cheesecake.
The double boiler is essential, it allows a soft cooking to the cheesecake base and guarantees a very soft and not dry cake.
Mix gently with your whisk when you add the whites. Be patient because you don’t want to break the whites.