I learnt about the magic of sake kasu during my trip to Japan earlier this year. It is the byproduct of sake filtration, and bears the same sweet wine-like taste and aroma as sake. It can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, like in this recipe for Miso Soymilk Paitan Rawmen. Today I will feature it in a dessert – baked cheesecake.
As I have no experience with sake kasu desserts, I searched online for ideas and came across one by Peaceful Cuisine. I tried it two times and on the second round, I adapted it to my preferences. The changes I made were to substitute cane sugar with maple syrup, reduced the amount of sweetener and coconut oil, and added kudzu starch (an unprocessed starch-based thickener similar to corn starch) because the first time I made it, the cake was too liquid. I also changed the crust from an oat-based one to a coconut shortbread.
If you are looking for a change from the usual raw cashew cheesecake, this baked one will not disappoint. It is filled with the inexplicable aroma and fermented sweetness of sake balanced with tart lemon. With lesser nuts and oil, it is also much lighter on the digestion. Sake kasu may be a difficult ingredient to hunt down. You can try Japanese specialty stores or go direct to sake breweries. In Singapore, the online store Zairyo imports it from Japan. I bought mine from Japan as a souvenir and love using it now and then.
This recipe uses soy milk, which is naturally high in protein. When soy protein meets acidic lemon juice, it curdles to form tofu-like product that sets the cake, in combination with the other starches and almonds. For a soy-free version, you could replace the soy milk with full-fat coconut milk, but you would also have to add a protein agent such as protein powder to achieve the right consistency.
Sake Kasu Baked Cheesecake (Vegan, Gluten Free)
Baked vegan gluten-free cheesecake filled with the inexplicable aroma and fermented sweetness of sake balanced with tart lemon. Try it for a change from the raw cashew cheesecake.
Coconut Shortbread Crust
- 25 g (4 tbsp) coconut flour
- 10 g (4 tsp) arrowroot flour
- 27 g (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) coconut oil
- 20 (4 tsp) maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch Himalayan salt
Sake Kasu Layer
- 160 ml (2/3 cup) organic unsweetened soy milk (see notes for soy-free version)
- 30 g (2 tbsp) full-fat coconut milk
- 54 g (1/4 cup) sake kasu
- 54 g (1/3 cup) cashews soaked for 4-6 hours
- 27 g (1/4 cup) almond flour
- 13 g (4 tsp) rice flour (blend white rice in a spice grinder and sift)
- 13 g (4 tsp) kudzu starch
- 48 g (3 tbsp) maple syrup
- 24 g (1 1/2 tbsp) lemon juice & zest
- 15 g (1 1/2 tbsp) coconut oil
- Handful fresh blueberries (do not use too much or the cake will be watery)
Blind Bake the Shortbread Crust
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Line a 12x12 cm baking pan with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut and arrowroot flours. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt until emulsified. Slowly pour in the wet mixture into the flour mixture and mix. The dough will be very wet at first, but will dry up as the coconut flour starts to absorb the oil. Wait for 1 minute, then knead the dough with your hands to form a dough ball. If too dry, add a splash more liquid sweetener or oil, 1 teaspoon at a time until it comes together. If it is too moist, add more coconut flour, same 1 teaspoon at a time. You want to get a soft buttery dough ball.
Set aside at room temperature for 5 minutes to let the coconut flour absorb the liquid.
Press the crust in the bottom of the pan and puncture the crust with a fork about 10-15 times. This prevents the crust from puffing up as it bakes.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cool completely. Meanwhile, proceed with the sake kasu layer.
Prepare the Sake Kasu Layer
In a blender, combine the soy milk, sake kasu, almond flour, and kudzu starch. Blend on high speed for 1 minute until a thick cream.
Add the maple syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice and zest. Blend again on medium-high speed until well-combined and emulsified.
The consistency of the final mixture is quite watery, but do not worry. Pour the mixture over the pre-baked pie crust. Drop a handful of blueberries on the surface. Do not add too many blueberries or it will cause the cheesecake to be watery.
Bake at 160°C (325°F) for 60 minutes, or until cake is golden on top.
Remove from oven and let cool completely in the refrigerator or freezer before slicing.
Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Adapted from Peaceful Cuisine.
Soy-free version: replace soy milk with full-fat coconut milk and add 12-15g (1/2 scoop) plant protein powder, preferably unflavoured or vanilla.
I added soaked cashews which gave a firmer consistency.