4.91 from 10 votes

Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake

Don’t be fooled by the picture, this is a cheesecake, not a sponge cake. I have seen Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake all over the internet for years, but hadn’t come around to trying it until now. My fellow instagram baker, Silvia Colloca, just sent me her latest cookbook, Love Laugh Bake!, and she has a version of this internet sensation made with mascarpone.

The name, cotton soft, refers to the texture of the cake, which is far lighter and almost soufflé-like compared to the New York or custard style cheesecakes in my repertoire. Silvia also used fruit in the batter, so there is a layer of berries that rest along the bottom, creating a base in this otherwise crustless cheesecake. In her book she uses blueberries, but I had raspberries on hand and they worked perfectly. The only other change I made to this Japanese cotton soft cheesecake was to use gluten-free flour (there is very little flour in the recipe, so it adapts without compromise), since I was bringing this dessert to a party and the host is gluten-free. It was a big hit and I will be making this cheesecake again and again.

Silvia has generously shared the recipe below.

Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François
Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François
Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake

Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake

The name, cotton soft, refers to the texture of the cake, which is far lighter and almost soufflé-like compared to the New York or custard style cheesecakes.
4.91 from 10 votes
Course: cheesecake
Cuisine: Desserts
Author: Adapted from Silvia Colloca


  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 1 cup (250ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 140 g caster sugar super fine sugar
  • 6 large eggs separated
  • 1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
  • Zest of one orange + 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 60 g flour I used gluten-free all-purpose, but wheat flour is what Silvia originally calls for
  • 12 g corn starch cornflour
  • 1 cup (150g) berries, plus more for serving
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar


  • Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Grease and line an 8 x 3 Inch cake pan with parchment paper. The paper should go up above the rim, since this cake will soufflé slightly as it bakes.
  • Beat the mascarpone and 70g of the sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, then add the cream slowly. (Silvia has you add them all together, which does work, but I found it got smoother, faster, when I added the cream slowly to the cheese mixture). Add the yolks one at a time and mix to combine between each. Mix in the vanilla, zest and juice. Whisk together the flour and corn starch, then gently fold them into the cheese mixture. Fold the berries into the batter.
  • Whip the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until foamy. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the egg whites as they whip on medium speed. Turn up the speed and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the cheese batter. Immediately pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
  • Bake the cheesecake in a water bath for 50-75 minutes. It will depend on the temperature of the ingredients you started with. The cheesecake will be set on top when gently tapped with your fingers, but will still feel a bit wobbly. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the cooling oven for at least an hour.
  • Refrigerate the cake until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours. Run a knife around the edge the cake and remove the parchment from the edge. Run the pan over the stove for just a few seconds, then invert the cake onto a flat surface, then invert again onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, then add fresh berries.
  • Or you can cover the cake with Mascarpone cream and berries. Combine 2 cups (450g) mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, teaspoon vanilla extract in a stand mixer with whip attachment and beat until the cream is soft peaks. Don’t over whip or it will feel greasy.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Thank you Silvia for sending me your beautiful book, Love, Laugh, Bake! Looking for tips to perfect your cheesecake? Check out my how-to make cheesecake post!

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15 thoughts to “Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake”

  1. Hi Zoe
    Love your site.
    2 quick questions:
    Can I use normal all purpose flour ?
    Can I use frozen berries ?
    Thank you

  2. Hi Zoe, my mom taught me to mix the berries with flour before adding them to the mixture so the will not sink to the bottom. Hope this helps

    1. Hi Francesca,

      Yes, it works like a charm. I think it was her intention for them to create a layer at the bottom for this cheesecake, but you can certainly try having them suspended in the batter.

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. Please explain the instruction: “run the pan over the stove for just a few seconds, then invert…”. I can’t quite visualize what you mean? Also, WHY do you do this? Aside from my bafflement, I definitely am going to try this recipe!

    1. Hi Jacquelyn,

      If you are on Instagram you can always watch my videos that I create to show you exactly how to make my recipes. The visuals are so helpful.

      Putting the pan over the heat of the stove for a few seconds releases the cake from the pan, so that it will slip out easily when you invert it. You need to do this when not using a springform pan. You can use a springform pan if you are CERTAIN it won’t leak in the water bath.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Lamar, Yes you can, but it may not have quite the same texture because cream cheese is a lot firmer than mascarpone, so it’s definitely going to affect the texture. It will still taste great!

  4. I am a bit confused about the corn starch ( corn flour.
    I googled the difference:

    Corn flour is very finely ground cornmeal, typically used as a coating for fried foods. It is made from the whole kernel of the corn, while cornstarch is made only from the ground endosperm. Usually, though not always, corn flour-the coating-is written as two words while cornflour-the other name for cornstarch-is written as one word.

    I am assuming U mean cornstarch

    1. Hi Karina – thank you for noticing! Yes, Zoe is referring to corn starch. I updated the recipe to reflect “cornflour” in parenthesis next to the corn starch in the ingredients list to avoid confusion in the future.

  5. You are an angel! I have been looking for a GF Japanese cotton cake for a long time. Tried some that didn’t work. While I have not tried your recipe yet, I know it will work because it u it a from you! Thank you thank you!!

  6. My 1st attempt at this wonderful sounding dessert.
    It was easy to put together. The only real change I made was to lower the sugar amounts.

    It is chilling …
    Tomorrow is to do my own critique. I always want to really taste my 1st attempt.
    I was sooo excited when I saw how beautifully it rose.
    My cake pan is 8”x2.5.
    So I added parchment to make a substantial collar cause the cake does rise.. like a soufflé ! But… it doesn’t fall like a regular baked soufflé does!!!

    1. Hi Tim, Zoë has not tried it herself, so can’t say for sure, but she suggests trying 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp of vanilla paste. Because it’s a paste (and depending on which one) it’s likely pretty strong, so if you like a stronger vanilla flavor, experiment with closer to 1/2 tsp.

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