Making castella cake at home is so easy! This popular Japanese sponge cake only requires 5 ingredients and minimal prepping. Honey lovers, you are in for a treat!
You can’t go to Japan without having castella.
Even if you tried to avoid it, it would find its way into your stomach somehow. But that’s not a bad thing since it’s quite light and really yummy. And today I’m going to show you how to make it from scratch!
I should mention that my recipe uses more honey than the traditional castella recipe simply because I love the taste of honey (so I wanted more of it in my cake).
What is Castella (Kasutera)?
Castella, pronounced kasutera in Japanese, is a Japanese confectionary (wagashi in Japanese) that hails from Portugal. It’s a simple sponge cake made with flour, eggs, sugar, and starch syrup, and baked in a rectangular mold. Derived from the name Pão de castella, which means “bread from Castile”, this cake was introduce to Japan in the 16th century, from Portuguese missionaries based in Nagasaki.
The reason why castella made its way to Japan is because the cake had a long shelf life, which meant sailors who were out at sea for months could store it for a long time.
What’s interesting about this particular cake is that there is no confectionary called castella in Portugal. The closest cakes resembling castella in Portugal are the madeira cake and pao de lo, b0th sponge cakes.
Nowadays castella can be found in different flavors such as honey, matcha, brown sugar, and chocolate.
Ingredients for Castella
Only 5 ingredients are needed for this recipe which makes it one of the easiest cakes to make!
- Bread Flour: Also called strong flour, bread flour has more protein than regular flour which results in the cake having a higher rise and more elasticity. If you cannot find bread flour, don’t worry – you can go ahead and use all-purpose flour. I’ve made it with all-purpose flour and the castella was still moist and delicious.
- Sugar: Castella is a sweet Japanese sponge cake mainly made with sugar, but for this recipe I’m only using 6 tablespoons. The rest will be sweetened with honey to give the cake more depth of flavor and floral notes.
- Eggs: 3 large eggs at room temperature. It’s very important that you do not use cold eggs as the temperature will affect the baking time. One way to quickly warm up your eggs it to put them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before using them.
- Honey: Use good honey for this as it will be the main flavor of your castella! I’m using raw organic honey for its strong floral notes and complex flavors.
- Water: Just a little water to loosen the batter.
- Salt: Salt is optional but I think adding a pinch always makes everything taste better.
How to Make Castella
- Start by preheating your oven to 320Fº (160Cº).
- Grab an 8″x 4″ loaf pan and brush it with oil, or use cooking spray. Set it aside.
- Sift the flour into a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, break the eggs and mix with a hand mixer.
- Add the sugar to the eggs and turn the speed to high. Mix for 4-5 minutes until the color turns a pale yellow and the texture has thickened.
- Turn the speed down to 3 or 4 and mix in the honey, water, and salt.
- Add one third of the bread flour and continue mixing until the flour is combined. Repeat this step twice more until all the bread flour has been combined.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake in the middle rack for 35-40 minutes. Stick a skewer in the center of the cake – if it comes out clean it’s fully cooked. If not, leave it in the oven for an additional 5 minutes and do another skewer test.
- Mix 1 tablespoon honey with 1 teaspoon water and brush the mixture on top of the cake.
- Flip the cake over and place it in a storage bag while it’s still hot. Fold the bag so that all sides of the cake are pressing against it – alternatively you could wrap the cake in plastic wrap – and leave it on the counter for 12 hours. This will help the flavors develop.
- Slice off the brown sides of the cake, but leave the top and bottom as is, and cut the cake into 1-inch thick slices.
- Voila! You just made Japanese castella cake. Now go enjoy it!
What to Serve with Castella Cake
When it comes to cakes, Japanese palate is more delicate than the Western one.
If you go to Japan and try their desserts you will notice that they are generally not as sweet as they are here in the US. The best way to describe Japanese desserts is that they have less of everything (sugar, fat, toppings, etc…) which is something I personally prefer.
Even their cheesecakes are lighter!
Castella cake is usually served on its own but you wouldn’t be going overboard by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream – it won’t be too sweet I promise.
You can also serve castella with:
- Iced matcha latte
- Thai iced tea
- Mugicha (iced barley tea)
- Strawberry apple compote
- Japanese style pumpkin purin
Did you like this Castella Cake Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Castella Cake – カステラ
This popular Japanese sponge cake only requires 5 ingredients and minimal prepping. Honey lovers, you are in for a treat!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 8 slices 1x
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature (do not use cold eggs)
- 100g bread flour (about 2/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (about 90ml) granulated sugar
- 60ml honey + extra for brushing
- 1 tablespoon water
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 320ºF (160Cº).
- Brush the bottom and sides of an 8”x 4″ loaf pan with oil or use a cooking spray.
- Sift the flour in to a large bowl and set aside.
- Place the eggs in a large bowl and mix using a hand mixer.
- Add the sugar and mix on high speed for about 4-5 minutes, until the color turns a pale yellow and the texture has thickened.
- Turn the speed down to 3 or 4 and add the honey, water, and salt. Mix for 1 minute.
- Add about a third of the bread flour and mix until combined. Repeat the same step until all the flour has been used. The entire process shouldn’t take more than a minute or so.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and tap it a few times on the counter to remove some of the air bubbles.
- Bake in the middle rack for 35-40 minute, until golden brown and fully baked. To test the doneness of your castella, stick a skewer in the center of the cake – if it comes out clean, it’s ready. If not, bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Take the cake out of the oven and place it on the stove top. Mix 1 tablespoon honey with 1 teaspoon water and brush the mixture on top of the castella cake.
- Flip the cake over using a plate and transfer it to a plastic bag while it’s still hot. Fold the bag so that all sides of the cake are pressing against it – alternatively you could wrap the cake in plastic wrap – and leave it on the counter for 12 hours.
- Slice off the golden brown sides of the cake – except for the top and bottom – and cut 1-inch thick slices. Serve.
For leftovers: Leave the cake in a storage container with an airtight lid to prevent it from drying. It should keep for about 4-5 days on the kitchen counter, or 8-10 days in the fridge.
Freezing: Wrap each slice individually and save them all in a storage bag or container with a lid. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 141
- Sugar: 18.4 g
- Sodium: 318.2 mg
- Fat: 2 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.5 g
- Fiber: 0.3 g
- Protein: 3.9 g
- Cholesterol: 69.8 mg
Keywords: Cake, snack, vegetarian
I tried out this recipe a couple days ago, and it was excellent! A lovely cake to have a slice of with coffee for breakfast. I was craving this kind of cake after seeing it in a Japanese bakery, and even though I used all-purpose flour, it still hit the spot. It was just the right amount of sweet, spongey, and fluffy.
I did not sift the flour (never do, I usually don’t find the difference noticeable), and used an 8×4 inch rectangular pan. It was done at 35 minutes for me. I turned the cake out onto a plate but regretted it, as the top crumb layer of the cake stuck to the plate, which subtracted from the beautiful appearance of the cake when it first came out of the oven. I scooped up the crumbs and glaze from the plate and tried to spread it out on top of the cake so it wasn’t so bare, and it looked alright. Next time, I will turn the cake directly out onto the plastic wrap and skip the plate. The cake also refused to come out even after loosening the sides until it had cooled for a few minutes, so the part about transferring “while the cake is still hot” was not possible this time.
It lasted 4 days on the kitchen counter in an airtight container, though after the first day the top of the cake (where I’m guessing the most glaze was concentrated) became very mushy and did not taste good. I cut the top half centimeter off the cake when serving after the first day to avoid the mushy part.
I will definitely make this again. Please let me know if anyone has tips to stop the top of the cake from getting mushy beyond day 1. Thank you for this recipe!
Hi Caroline, your cake looks amazing. I can’t wait to make it! Just a question on after brushing the honey after the cake comes out from the oven followed by flipping the cake out and wrap it in cling wrap, does it mean the top of the cake will be sticking to the cling wrap? Which side of the cake needs to slide off after 12 hours? Also I believe I have 9 x 5 inch pan too, if I want it to get the same look as yours, will it be 1.5x of the recipe provided? Will the temperature needs to adjust accordingly too? Thanks in advance. Mich
Hi Mich! The cake will absorb the honey so it doesn’t stick to the cling wrap at all 🙂 As far as measurements for a 9×5 pan I am not too sure… I think 1.5x might be too much so I would personally stick to the original measurements or increase them all by a quarter at most. The temperature should be fine as it is in the instructions 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!
Why are you set u[p so your recipes can not be saved to Pinterest?
Hi Michael! The website is being redesigned so the Pinterest option has been temporarily disabled. It will be back up soon 🙂
Hi! How can I change the ingredient amount for an 8 inch round pan?
Hi Van, I think a 9-inch round pan would be closer to the actual conversion. But I still think it would work, you might need to adjust baking time to make sure it doesn’t overbake or underbake. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂
Hi, this cake looks amazing and I plan to make it one day! I only have a 9×5 inch loaf pan, though. Do you recommend any alternations so I can use a 9×5 pan or should I just buy the pan you used? I was thinking of just multiplying all of the ingredients by 1.5 and then keeping the temperature and bake time the same, but I would like to hear what you’d recommend. Thank you.
Hi Shizu! I think using a 9×5 pan will work just fine. The cake won’t be the exact same shape as the pics on my blog but the taste will be just as good 🙂
This cake is to die for, our family have made this for a long time. Actually thought it was a secret recipe :O) didn’t realise you could freeze it so now i know. thanks
I would like to make this recipe into cupcakes instead. How long should I need to cook for??
Hi An, I’m not sure about cupcakes but my guess is that it would take about the same amount of time that a regular cupcake would take – so probably 15-20 minutes.
I baked in a cupcake pan for 20- 23 minutes and it came out perfect! Everyone in the family loved it especially my kids! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I always wanted to try making Castella. This one is very simple and tastes good too. Definitely one of my favorite recipes now!
Thank you so much An! and I’m so happy your kids loved it too! 🙂
My husband is also half Japanese and grew up eating this cake. He’s very specific about the taste and texture of this cake. I’ve made it now 5-6x and he says it’s almost identical to what he grew up eating.
Room temp eggs is a must and mixing long enough to get a little thicker. I skip the glaze part since each time I’ve tried it, it hasn’t come out the way I’d hope. However, the cake is excellent without it. I do wrap in Saran Wrap and leave for 12 hours before eating.
Thank you for this recipe – it’s a family favorite with my 2 kiddos too.
Wonderful Christine! I’m so happy it’s a family favorite 🙂 ❤️
This was a truly delicious cake! The honey flavor is distinct without being overpowering and the cake is moist. Mine came out slightly chewy as I used the wrong sized loaf pan (too big, so the cake is flatter) but even with that mistake, it is an incredible cake I will now add to my rotating repertoire!
So glad you like it Zoe! Thank you for sharing your cooking experience 🙂