Up till about the 1980, cheesecake was unheard of in Singapore. We had only cakes from confectioneries with loads of Swiss meringue, they are in all shapes and sizes.
I learned how to make cheesecakes around late 1980s, and was amazed by it. It is a totally different taste that does not involve butter. One thing I remember, is that making cheesecakes in Singapore always involved using condensed milk. In fact, a lot of baking required condensed milk. All households had some condensed milk stored away in a jar somewhere in the house.
Condensed milk was a staple in many families, and it is no wonder it also became a staple in our recipes. We hardly heard of creams and buttermilk, just always condensed milk. Creams and whipped creams also appeared in bakes about middle 1980s.
I saw a friend post her condensed cheesecake and she asked me what the problem was. There was a separation of the mixture and a higher temperature at the beginning of the bake should settle it. But it pique my interest to develop a spongy cheesecake using condensed milk. Ah, spongy cheesecakes are even later additions to the Singapore diet.
The first spongy cheesecakes, or Japanese cheesecakes appeared around mid 1990s, and at Yaohan, a Japanese departmental store. They had branches at Orchard and Thomson, but they closed down in 1997 and exited from Singapore. Yaohan brought lots of great teenage memories for me, when I grew up loving their snacks. Japanese soft cheesecakes were one of them.
This cheesecake does not shrink after baking, should not crack and is easy to bake. I like simple recipes, so this is one. My scale is out of battery, so I created this recipe using the tablespoon. I have converted it to grams too, in case it is useful.
1/2 carton (125g) cream cheese
2 Tbsp condensed milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
3 egg yolks
4 Tbsp sunflower oil (or any cooking oil)
5 Tbsp plain flour (or corn flour if gluten free is desired, there's no difference in taste or texture)
3 egg whites
4 Tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
- In a thermomix add the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest, temperature 70C and speed 2. (or use a water bath)
- Stir in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Do not beat.
- Stir the oil and then the plain flour.
- Set aside.
- Make a meringue at medium speed (Kitchenaid speed 4 for 4 minutes) to stiff peak.
- Fold the cheese mixture into the meringue, 1/3 at a time.
- Pour batter into a 6 inch cake tin, lined bottom and sides.
- Preheat oven at 165C.
- Line the outside of the cake tin with foil, and then into another bigger cake tin, and fill the outer tin to 1/2 the height of the smaller cake tin. This is called a bain marie or water bath.
- Place the water bath with the cake into the oven, middle shelf, switch the oven to 160C.
- Bake for 50 minutes until top is browned.
- Remove the water bath and let the cake stand for 5 minutes inside the oven, with oven door ajar.
- Remove from oven and let the cake cool to room temperature.
- Cool cake in the fridge until cooled completely, about 30 minutes in my fridge.
- Now, it is ready to be served!