Japanese Vs. New York Style Cheesecake
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The earliest known cheesecakes are believed to date back to ancient Greece. The Greeks are credited with creating the first cheesecakes, called plakous, which were simple cakes made from cheese, honey, and wheat. These early cheesecakes were popular during the first Olympic Games in 776 BCE, where they were served to athletes as a source of energy. The Greek physician Aegimus even wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes in the 5th century BCE, highlighting the importance of this dish in ancient Greek culture.

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Over time, the Romans adapted it and called their version of the cheesecake libum. The cheesecake also became popular in other European countries and in England. Much later, in the 20th century the New York Style Cheesecake became extremely popular. These cheesecakes were made with a high ratio of cream cheese, heavy cream or sour cream, eggs, and sugar, baked on a graham cracker or cookie crust. The baking process involved a high temperature initially, followed by a lower temperature to ensure a firm texture with a slight browning on top.

In Japan, a lighter, fluffier version of cheesecake emerged, known as Japanese or "cotton" cheesecake. Influenced by European baking techniques, Japanese Cheesecake incorporates whipped egg whites to create a soufflé-like texture, distinct from the dense New York Style Cheesecake. This variation is known for its airy, jiggly texture and subtle sweetness.

The Japanese Cheesecake and New York Style Cheesecake share common ingredients such as cream cheese and eggs, they diverge significantly in terms of texture, flavour, baking techniques, and cultural contexts. The Japanese Cheesecake, with its airy and fluffy consistency, gentle sweetness, and delicate baking process, appeals to those who prefer lighter desserts. On the other hand, New York Style Cheesecake is dense, rich, and tangy. 

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The ingredients for Japanese Cheesecake typically include cream cheese, eggs, sugar, milk, and sometimes a small amount of flour or cornstarch. The use of whipped egg whites plays an important role in achieving its airy texture, while cream cheese provides a mild tanginess and richness. The overall flavour profile leans towards a gentle sweetness, making it less intense compared to other cheesecake varieties.

In the case of the New York Style Cheesecake, the ingredients typically include cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and sometimes sour cream or heavy cream. The high ratio of cream cheese gives it its signature richness and creamy mouthfeel. The addition of sour cream or heavy cream further enhances its texture, resulting in a velvety and decadent cheesecake experience.

The Flavour 

The Japanese Cheesecake is known for its balanced and light flavour. It is less tangy than New York Style Cheesecake due to its lighter texture and lower ratio of cream cheese. The focus is more on its delicate and soft mouthfeel rather than a pronounced cheesiness or richness. The New York Style Cheesecake though is characterised by its pronounced tanginess and richness. The flavour is robust, with a noticeable cheesiness that is complemented by a creamy sweetness. The contrast between the tang of the cream cheese and the richness of the dairy components creates a complex and indulgent taste profile.

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Baking Technique

To achieve the desired texture, Japanese Cheesecake is often baked in a water bath (a pan of hot water is placed in the oven, into which the baking dish that contains the food you need to cook is placed.) This method ensures gentle and even cooking, preventing the cheesecake from drying out or cracking. The water bath helps to maintain the moist and airy consistency throughout the baking process, resulting in a smooth and uniform surface with a slight golden hue.

Unlike Japanese Cheesecake, New York Style Cheesecake is typically baked without a water bath at a lower temperature for a longer duration. This slow baking method allows the cheesecake to set gradually while maintaining its dense and creamy consistency. 

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Japanese Cheesecake has a smooth, pale surface and a soft, jiggly centre when properly baked. It may have minimal browning on top, reflecting its gentle baking process and emphasis on maintaining its delicate structure. The New York Style Cheesecake has a  golden-brown top and cracked surface, which adds to its rustic and homemade appeal. The cracks are a testament to its dense structure and the traditional baking method used to achieve its firm texture.