Monday, 29 December 2014

Cotton Cheesecake

I never tasted cheesecake until I was in my early 20s and even then I was never sure about a heavy rich filling on top of a crunchy biscuit base - although my first cheesecake had more of a soggy base.
As time went on I realised there are so many different types of cheesecakes about and it was just finding the right one for me. 
They can be baked, fridge set or even steamed! 
They can have a biscuit base, sponge base or even no base at all.
They can have chocolate, fruit or just on its own.
The possibilities are endless!

East asians are more likely to prefer a lighter sponge style cheesecake that has been dubbed "Japanese Cotton Cheesecake". It is so light and so moist that one of my friends who first tried this cheesecake even said, "it's like eating a cheesecake cloud!" 
I have also had others who are not so fond of it because they are stuck in their ways of liking the rich creamy sweet desserts that they are used to.
Japanese Cotton Cheesecake is by far my favourite cheesecake, although I had never tasted one from an actual bakers - until this year when I was in Hong Kong. I still prefer my version because the one I bought had a weird artificial taste and weird texture.
This wasn't just my opinion, even my sister in law who loves cotton cheesecakes turned round and told me that mine was better than the one we had in HK.

This bought one left me so disappointed but also quite proud that mine tastes better.

It isn't hard to make, but it is hard to perfect. I would always get frustrated as to why my cheesecake looked like a volcano but after some searching for tips on how to make it look pretty, I was ecstatic when I finally made a pretty (and tasty) cheesecake. 
Don't get me wrong, I still like the rich creamy cheesecakes that have the crunchy biscuit base - ONLY if it has a crunchy biscuit base. My mum makes hers with a sponge base and topped with jelly - as much as I love my mum and her cooking, I don't particularly like that combo. Something about sponges being put with ingredients that soak in to the sponge makes me wanna gag (trifle is the worst).

It took a lot of practice for me and to this day, I still make the "rookie mistakes" because I tend to fall back in to bad habits. 

The pans I use are the traditional pans that are used by bakers in East Asia to make these cheesecakes so it may be hard to source these styles of pans in the UK. I had to get mum to buy them from Hong Kong for me. Don't be disheartened if you can't get them because deep round cake tins work too but make sure it is NOT loose based! If you only have a loose based tin, wrap it up in tin foil so no water gets in. Remember to adjust cooking time when baking them in different sized tins. 2 of these tins should equal to two 6" or 7" deep round cake tins. 
If you live in the UK and are interested in buying these pans, please get in touch and I can see what I can do about sourcing them over here.

Right, without further ado here is the recipe:

 Cotton Cheesecake

160g Cream Cheese
25g Butter
120g Milk

40g Plain Flour
30g Cornflour

4 Medium Egg yolks

4 Medium Egg whites
Cream of Tartar (about 1/8th of a tsp)
100g Caster Sugar
Pinch of salt


  • Line your tins with baking parchment.
Ensure the parchment goes above the sides of the tins.
  • Preheat oven to 160ºC and move the rack you intend to bake on to the lowest section of the oven.
  • Place all ingredients from A) in to a heat resistant bowl, place on top of a pan of barely simmering water and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk until it is slightly thick.
  • Take off the heat and whisk in B).
  • Once combined, whisk in C).
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites from D) until it is all foamy, then add the Cream of Tartar and salt. Continue to whisk until soft peaks start to form. 
  • Gradually add the sugar - a little at a time - until the whites are stiff and glossy. Try not to overbeat!
I love the look of whites when they reach the stiff peak stage!
  • Fold the whites in to the Cream Cheese mixture in 2-3 batches, using the balloon whisk. 
  • Once combined, you can use a large spatula to complete the folding process to ensure all whites are incorporated.
  • Gently pour the mixture in to the baking tins.
  • Bake in a bain marie in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in to the cake.
  • If you have a very cold kitchen, take your cheesecakes out of their tins and complete the cooling process in the switched off oven with the door ajar.
Best to try and take off the parchment immediately after it comes out so as not to get the wrinkles you see here.

I love flavouring mine with Pandan! 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Coffee Chiffon

I love Chiffon cakes. Fact.
Easy (ish) to make, no fuss and no need to decorate.
Light and moist texture that can be eaten on it's own with a good cup of coffee/tea.

I remember the first time I made this coffee chiffon, it was for my brother's birthday and he specifically requested not to have a cake made for him (due to the fact that he's not a fan of sweet things) but I couldn't let him go without a birthday cake. He loves coffee, so I searched for ages for a coffee chiffon recipe and when I eventually found one that I was kind of satisfied with, I reduced the sugar by almost a half; using what knowledge I already knew about Chiffon cakes, at the time, to tweak the recipe. 
I used cream for the middle to add an element of freshness - it worked wonderfully and the bro really enjoyed it. Happy days!

Bro and Ella with his birthday cake.

The second time I made this, the texture was even better but the sponge lacked any flavour of coffee and I was so gutted. The reason was simple, I changed the coffee I was using. 
The coffee I used the first time was made using Nescafe Original coffee granules.
The coffee I used the second time was made using Nescafe Azera. 
Now, Azera costs more and is supposed to give a more "authentic" barista style coffee so it baffled me as to why it tasted of nothing when added to the cake!
My advice to anyone trying this recipe out, is to play around with the coffee you use and once you find the perfect one, don't change!
I am still searching for the right coffee for my Coffee Chiffon - once I find it, I will be amending this post!
If you find the perfect coffee to add to this, please comment below and share with us!

For now, I hope you like this recipe.

Coffee Chiffon
300g Plain Flour
150g Caster Sugar
1tbsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
125ml Vegetable Oil
150ml Fresh Coffee
8 Egg Yolks

8 Egg Whites
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
90g Caster Sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
  • Sieve the dry ingredients from list A in to a large mixing bowl.
  • Make a well in the flour.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients from list A in to the well and mix with a balloon whisk until the mixture is smooth, but make sure you don't over mix it.

  • Beat the whites and Cream of Tartar until foamy, gradually add the sugar from B and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

  • Fold the stiff whites in to the coffee mix in 2-3 separate batches - I use a balloon whisk for this but you can use a spatula, whatever is easier for you.

  • Fold carefully but quickly until all egg white lumps are gone and then use a large spatula to complete the folding.

  • Pour carefully in to a Chiffon Tube Pan. Lift the pan an inch or 2 above the work top and drop it - do this a couple of times to remove large air pockets.

  • Bake for about 65-70mins - remembering that different ovens vary so check after 60 mins - using the skewer method to check it is done. Cool upside down in the tin for at least 20mins. I usually let it cool completely in the tin.

  • To remove the cake, use a thin sharp knife and run it around the side of the cake and tin, then once you have taken it out, run the knife along the bottom and inside the tube part to get the cake off the rest of the pan.

You can decorate it however you like - maybe with a caramel sauce? Fresh cream? Sprinkled with walnuts? 

I prefer it plain with no filling or icing and have it with a nice cup of tea.

I Decorated the one below with a chocolate ganache and filled with a whipped ganache.