Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Simple Eats – Feather Light Fromage Blanc Cheesecake

One of the dining places we used to frequent over weekends was Ichiban, a Japanese restaurant at Parkway Parade as J loved the Tori Katsu Curry there. They have a loyalty card system where diners get a stamp for every 20 dollars spent. The stamps are then redeemable for free food items or dining vouchers. Many a times, we find ourselves falling short of just a few bucks to getting another stamp and of course the stack of Ichiban Fiesta Japanese Cheesecake sitting beside the cashier’s was the best option to “top up our bill”. Over time, we grew to love this cheesecake, buying it at every opportunity, even when we are not dining there.

I saw several fellow friends in the blogging community who have really positive reviews on the Featherlight Cheesecake recipe from Alex Goh’s “Fantastic Cheesecake” and I couldn’t resist the temptation to try it as well.  Cathy from Cathy’s Joy and Jess from J3ss Kitch3n were a great source of motivation so despite not having tried this before, I jumped on the bandwagon and the cake was indeed true to what had been raved; the texture was very soft and light, totally effortless on the palate. Instead of using conventional creamcheese, I decided to use Fromage Blanc for the cake, since I bought a tub earlier in the week from Carrefour to have a taste of the real thing and compare with the ones I’d yielded from my earlier experimentation. Some modifications to the original recipe were made and I’d listed them below.

Wendy from Table for 2 or more,  Wendy from Wen’s delight and Nancy from Bake for a Queen had very good results for this cake and was a great source of inspiration. Jessie from Heartybakes and Tracie from Bitter Sweet Flavours have done it too! All these wonderful bloggers’ work gave me the motivation and confidence to try out the recipe. Do hop over to their blogs for some really good tips on getting it right. And of course, Cathy and Jess had been wonderful in giving me advice as well!

Below is the recipe which I’d gotten from the above mentioned blogs and adapted to include my own changes and modifications to the recipe.

Feather Light Fromage Blanc cake

250g milk
20g butter (I used salted butter)

125g cream cheese (replaced with Fromage Blanc)
50g flour (increased to 70g, see note below)

3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence (replaced with 1/2 vanilla pod halved lengthwise and seeds scrapped)

3 egg whites
1/8tsp cream of tartar (omitted)
80g sugar
pinch of salt (omitted as I used salted butter)

chocolate paste (1 tablesp of Valrhona Dutch-processed cocoa powder with a tsp of hot water)

Method
1. Grease a 20cm (8″) square tin and line with paper and wrap the exterior of the tin with 2 layers of aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 150-160 °C.

2. Beat the cream cheese till smooth.

3. In a heavy saucepan, heat milk, butter and scrapped vanilla pod and seeds until the mixture begans to boil. Reduce the flame to low heat and allow the mixture simmer for another 5 min to allow vanilla to infuse. Cover with lid to prevent too much evaporation from occurring. Incorporate very slowly into cream cheese with gradual additions until well mixed. Set aside to cool down slightly.

4. Fold flour into the warm cheese-milk mixture to form a smooth batter. Beat and stir in egg yolks until well blended to form a creamy batter. Heat the batter over a bain marie to allow it to thicken slightly. Stir continually to prevent curdling.

5. Sieve the mixture to remove any lumps and remnants of vanilla pod. Set aside and meanwhile, in a clean bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add in  sugar, and continue to whisk until stiff peaks.

6. Add a portion of meringue into creamy batter and fold quickly. Pour mixture back into rest of meringue and fold until the whites can longer be seen. Do not overmix. Mix a small portion of the mixture with choc paste from cocoa powder and hot water. This would form a chocolate creamy batter.

7. Pour half of the creamy batter onto the prepared pan . Add some droplets of choco paste batter and begin to swirl with edge of knife or spoon to produce marbling effect. Pour in the rest of the creamy batter. Repeat with more drops of choco paste batter with the swirling effects on top.

8. Place the tin into a larger baking tray acting as a waterbath. Fill up the baking tray to  halfway  with boiling water and tent the top with an aluminum foil. Bake in water bath for 50-60 mins until the centre is set.

9. Turn off the heat but leave the cake inside the hot oven for very gradual cooling. Remove the cake when it has cooled down sufficiently.

Personal Notes

1. Fromage Blanc has more of a thick yoghurt like consistency than the density of creamcheese. Also known as Fromage Frais, this french soft fresh cheese is flavourful but without the heft of conventional creamcheese or marscapone. So the cake is supposed to be lighter. I used Fromage Blanc from Carrefour this time, which I’d bought as a comparison to the one I made earlier. Naturally the 1 kg tub from carrefour is much smoother. :/ But it had a tangy overtone, similar to greek yoghurt which kind of overshadows the sweetness intended. May have to increase the amount of sugar next time. But on a more positive note, the cake was indeed very soft and silky.

2. I strained the Fromage Blanc with a tea towel slightly to remove excess water/whey but even then, it had a slightly more fluid consistency than creamcheese. Hence, the flour proportion was slightly increased.

3. The creamy batter, upon addition of the egg yolks can be strained for a smoother texture. This step is optional but I wasn’t confident of my flour folding procedure so I had better be sure.

4. As this cake does not employ a rising or levening agent, the meringue was the chief source to maintain the “airy” texture of the cake and give it height. So the meringue part is crucial in making this cake. Fold in the meringue as what one would do for a chiffon. I would experiment with addition of cream of tartar and perhaps even egg white powder to stabilise the meringue further in future bakes.

5. The pan was tented with aluminum foil and oven temperature kept at the lower range of 150 °C to prevent the top from browning  too much and potential cracking on the surface to produce a “volcano growth”. The baking tray was also kept at the lowest part of the oven. This seem to be a bit of  “overdoing” as the top did not brown much as what I’d hoped it to be. But no volcano growths thank goodness.

6. The waterbath pan should be almost if not completely dry when it nears the end of the baking process. Do not add more water if so. If it dries too quickly, e.g. less than halfway, then hot water needs to be replenished.

7. Leaving the baked product in the oven to allow the temperature to decrease very gradually seemed like an important step. As Sonia from Nasi Lemak Lover had shared in her blog for the Japanese Cotton Cheesecake, this helps to reduce the risk of the cake collapsing or sinking too much.

A small compilation and sharing from what I’d learned from all the wonderful ladies mentioned above. Hope this is would be useful in helping you achieve the soft cottony textures desired. It certainly helped me. 🙂

I’m submitting this for Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011) hosted by Jean from Noms I Must.

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22 responses

  1. very beautiful swirls and the texture divine! now you can bake more!

    April 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    • firebirdie

      yeah! definitely will do more cheesecakes since J likes the textures as well. Will experiment with other flavours like pandan, orange and the soy bean milk one you told me about!

      April 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

  2. I was just looking at some of the bloggers’ posts on the ever so famous cheesecake and you neatly listed all of them (more posts for me to look at) in this post 🙂

    Just wondering about the milk portions though – you doubled the portion while halving the rest?

    April 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hi janine! the proportions are exact to what’s listed in Alex Goh’s book I believe? I took a leap of faith to follow what’s on Wendy and Nancy’s blogs and cross-referenced with the others. The ingredient modifications I made are

      – using fromage blanc in place of creamcheese
      – increasing flour portion
      – using vanilla pod in place of extract
      – using cocoa powder and hot water for paste
      – omitting salt and cream of tartar

      There’s another recipe attempted and circulated amongst the blogging community and that’s for “japanese cotton cheesecake” which is so similar but yet so different!

      April 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  3. Alan, as usual your post is so rich with info. I love how you shared your personal notes on the recipes. Thanks so much for taking the time do that and for your generosity in sharing them with us. I am now hopping off to check out other bloggers who have baked this cake. Oh, I like the composition used in your photos. They made a piece of simple cake looks very classy!

    April 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hi Veronica! Hope this is of help to you! Do give it a try and hop Stitch and the rest of your family would like it!

      April 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm

  4. 好漂亮,照片也很美:)

    April 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    • firebirdie

      谢谢你!我也非常喜欢你的摄影风格!

      April 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  5. Your instructions are very detailed – I shall try making it. Thanks !

    April 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    • firebirdie

      great to be of some help 🙂 Do try and let me know the outcome!

      April 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

  6. Ahhhh okay I see – I confused it with the Japanese cotton cheesecake instead! Cos I remember that recipe requiring 6 eggs and half the amount of milk. Thanks 🙂

    April 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    • firebirdie

      6 eggs is a horrific reminder of my fugly looking kueh lapis! try baking it, Janine! 🙂

      April 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

  7. I love the swirl effect! Your cheesecake looks so inviting~ 😉

    April 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    • firebirdie

      thanks cathy! especially for being so encouraging all the time!

      April 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

  8. alan, great job! this looks really soft, i’ve seen a few making this cheesecake but i didnt know they are from the same source! must be really really good. the marbles rea beatiful too! thanks on the info on fromage blanc, so that could be a subsitute for greek yogurt too?

    April 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm

  9. firebirdie

    Hi Lena! it’s very soft indeed! This is a very well circulated recipe tried and tested by many. So what are you waiting for? lol

    IMHO, I think that yoghurt would probably be a tad too watery for it altogether. Might have to do more modifications to the recipe, and at the risk of taking away the light softness from it.

    April 19, 2011 at 1:19 am

  10. mmmm, now i feel like baking one too! haha
    maybe I’ll use nutella for the swirls!

    April 19, 2011 at 1:31 am

    • firebirdie

      ah! good idea on using nutella!!!

      April 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

  11. This is a gorgeous cheesecake – beautiful, delicate marble, and I love that it’s ‘feather light’, since I can pretend it won’t add anything to my hips lol

    April 21, 2011 at 1:07 am

    • firebirdie

      Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for dropping by! I wont pretend that its fat-free but using low fat Fromage blanc certainly helped, at least with the guilt part! oh yeah, I love love love your “Desordre Vert’”! you are so talented to have created your own entremet! will try to make it soon!

      April 21, 2011 at 1:52 am

  12. Syn

    The two glasses at the back look really distracting. You seemed really fond of placing glasses at the background? You should perhaps place them at a better position or do away altogether. No point placing something within a picture that doesn’t do anything to enhance it.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:44 am

    • firebirdie

      thanks for the comments 🙂

      April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

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