This Zebra Japanese Cheesecake features a soft and fluffy souffle-type cake, with a pattern attained by alternating matcha and plain batter.
Hey guys, how have you been doing? Let me just say I feel infinitely better after letting out steam in my previous post. Still pretty exhausted and slightly uninspired, but my soul kind of feels less burdened. I’m actually feeling a bit under the weather today but my mood is pretty cheery, which is good. I feel like I’m on the road to recovery, and to commemorate that I wanted to write about this Green Tea Japanese Cheesecake.
I don’t know why it has to be this particular cake, but when I opened my notebook to take a look at my list of backlogs this was the first thing that jumped out at me. 🙂
Maybe it’s because this isn’t just any plain old Green Tea Japanese Cheesecake, it’s got a zebra design inside that kind of surprises anyone who unknowingly takes a slice. I guess I like the idea of that. It’s like the most random thing but I love the way it looks haha! I came across this cheesecake on Pinterest I believe. (The home of inspiration, they call it. Exactly the thing I am looking for right now.)
My first try was not too shabby, if I do say so myself!
As with the Japanese cheesecakes I’ve tried making before, I was a bit saddened by the size of this after the cheesecake’s shrinkage. It’s a natural occurrence for any soufflé to shrink, but I still felt sad that there was less to devour. But this is how cheesecakes often are in Japan: Dainty-sized and cute!
This Green Tea Zebra Japanese Cheesecake starts out like any other Japanese cheesecake recipe, wherein the cream cheese gets melted on a double broiler with butter and milk until smooth. Then in goes the egg yolks, flour, and cornstarch. Once you fold this all up really well, you’ll get a very yellow mixture.
Now in another bowl we will use the egg whites. I highly recommend using equipment here because beating egg whites to peaks will require muscle-work if you do it by hand. Using machinery is faster too, because once you get your sugar in you’ll be arriving at the soft peak stage in no time.
Soft peaks is when you get an opaque mixture, but as you lift your beaters from the egg whites, the whites will curl back instead of stand up stiffly.
It’s important not to overbeat your egg whites because then you won’t get the right texture for the cheesecake. We’re not making meringues and macarons after all. We’re aiming for a soft and fluffy cheesecake which can be attained by an aerated mixture, and that’s what the whipped egg whites are for.
Now we just fold in the egg whites in two batches so as not to “shock” the cake batter. Do the folding part gently. The first addition will loosen the batter up and the second will completely aerate it. You will notice the batter change and turn light and airy. I used a whisk to fold but a spatula may be easier to work with.
The goal here is not to fold too much that the mixture will deflate. Go under and over with bigger motions to get it done in less strokes. (Does that makes sense?) As soon as no more streaks of the darker yellow egg yolk-based mixture can be seen and the mixture looks incorporated, it’s ready.
Now we separate this batter into two equal portions and add a prepared green tea paste into one bowl. The green tea or matcha powder I used for this Green Tea Japanese Cheesecake is a pure one that turns dark green once it comes in contact with water. (Most ready-to-drink sweetened matcha powders have a lighter coloring and you can use that too.) It’s just a matter of alternately pouring in the white and the green batter into your pan to get the zebra effect. There isn’t much to it really.
Now before you get the batter into your 6-inch springform pan, make sure it is lightly greased and lined with parchment. The outside bottom half of the pan should be wrapped tightly with aluminum foil because we will bake this in a water bath. (Full instructions with pictures are below.)
This Green Tea Zebra Japanese Cheesecake comes out soft and fluffy because the water bath helps to maintain moisture in the oven while the cake bakes. It does take an hour to bake though, and another hour more or less to let it cool down slowly inside the oven. If you take it out right away, it might shrink way too much and we don’t want that.
By keeping it in the oven, it gradually adapts to the slowly changing temperature, minimizing shrinkage. It still does shrink quite a bit though since it is technically a soufflé, so just be warned. Now you know why Japanese Cheesecakes are so small. 😀
In any case, this flavor combo is really nice. The matcha makes its presence felt without being overwhelming just because of the way its layers are distributed inside the cheesecake. I honestly like this airy version compared to the Western type of cheesecake since those are so heavy. Japanese cheesecakes are also flavorful without being too rich, which makes them perfect for teatime!
Green Tea Zebra Japanese Cheesecake
Makes one 5-inch Japanese cheesecake
- 20 grams butter
- 125 grams cream cheese
- 100 mL milk
- 50 grams all-purpose flour
- 10 grams cornstarch
- 80 grams fine granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1. Before anything, prepare the cake tin. Lightly grease and line with parchment paper the bottom and sides of a round 7-inch springform tin. Wrap two layers of foil around the bottom half of the tin to prevent water from seeping in.
- 2. Find a large baking dish that will fit the springform tin and fill it 1/4 of the way full with water. Place the baking dish without the springform pan in it into the center rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
- 3. In a bowl over a double broiler, add the cream cheese, butter, and milk. Whisk together until melted, smooth, and lump-free. Cool the mixture over an ice bath.
- 4. Once cool, fold in the flour, cornstarch, and the 3 egg yolks. Mix well.
- 5. In another bowl, whisk the 3 egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. The mixture will be opaque and will form a soft curl when beaters are lifted. Make sure there is no liquid egg white at the bottom.
- 6. To the cream cheese mixture, add 1/3 of the egg white mixture to loosen it up. Add the remaining egg white mixture in 2 batches, gently folding until well-mixed and no more streaks remain in the batter. Do not over-mix so the batter does not deflate. It should look airy. Divide the batter evenly in two bowls.
- 7. Mix the matcha green tea powder with the hot water until a paste is formed. Add this into one of the bowls of cheesecake batter. Fold until well combined.
- 8. Alternately pour the green tea and plain batter, 3 Tablespoons at a time, into the center of the prepared springform pan. Add the next batter to the center of the previous batter each time so that it will spread, looking similar to a target with a bull's eye.
- 9. Carefully transfer the cheesecake into the water bath in the oven, making sure not to tilt the batter in the pan. Bake in the water bath for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is golden brown. The cheesecake should still be jiggly when you check, but DO NOT take the cheesecake out of the oven yet.
- 10. Switch the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cake cool down slowly inside with the oven door slightly ajar. A sudden change in temperature will cause the cake to shrink too much and collapse. By allowing it to cool down gradually inside the oven, the cake will just shrink to about half its size but will maintain its shape. Chill thoroughly before serving. You can also brush it with 2 Tablespoons apricot jam mixed with 1 Tablespoon water to give it some shine and sweetness.
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