Castella Cake – カステラ
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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
- 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.
Keywords: Cake, snack, vegetarian
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