You’ve probably heard of castella cake before, as it’s a very popular cake in Japan.
It’s praised for its simplicity and delicious flavor! But just in case you haven’t heard of castella cake before, we’ll go into a bit more detail about what makes this cake so great.
What Is Castella Cake?
Castella cake is a sponge cake that is raised with egg foam. It’s a type of wagashi, which is a Japanese traditional confectionery.
It’s a very light, spongey cake that is very popular nowadays.
You can get castella, also known as kasutera (カステラ) at just about any corner store in Japan.
It has been enjoyed by people around the world for thousands of years — and pretty soon by you, too! It doesn’t require many ingredients, but that doesn’t mean it is very easy to make.
Ingredients for Castella Cake
You only need four ingredients for this super simple sponge cake — chances are you already have everything you need in your kitchen.
Grab bread flour first. Bread flour is the best for this recipe, as it has more protein and will have a higher rise. If you don’t have bread flour, don’t worry. You can also use all-purpose flour.
Also Read: Self Raising Flour Recipe
Sugar is your next ingredient. The recipe only uses six tablespoons, as the cake’s main sweetness and flavor will come from honey.
That brings us to our next ingredient: honey! Raw honey is best, but whatever you have is just fine.
And finally, you need eggs. It’s important that your eggs are room temperature — cold eggs will not work. They will affect the overall baking time of the cake.
You will also need salt and water. The salt is optional, but a pinch of salt can enhance flavors in dishes!
How to Make Castella Cake
If you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to get started on whipping up a delicious cake!
- Get started by preheating your oven to 320 degrees, 160 Celsius, and greasing an 8×4 inch loaf pan. Set it aside for later.
- Sift 2/3 cup of flour into a bowl by itself, breaking 3 eggs in their own bowl off to the side. Break and mix up the eggs with an electric mixer.
- Now add 1/4 cup of sugar to your eggs, and mix with your mixer on high speed.
- Mix the sugar and the eggs together for four to five minutes, or until the mixture’s color becomes pale, and it has thickened.
- Once your egg and sugar mixture has thickened up, turn the speed of the mixer down and add four tablespoons of honey, a pinch of salt, and one tablespoon of water.
- You’ll want to mix everything in your egg bowl for about a minute before you begin to add your sifted bread flour.
- Add a third of the flour and mix it until it is combined — continue to add the flour one third at a time until it has all been mixed into the main batter.
- Now that your batter is done, you can pour it into your greased loaf pan. Be sure to tap it on your counter a couple of times to get any air bubbles out of the way!
Baking the Castella Cake
All there is left to do now is place your loaf pan on your oven’s center rack for 35 to 40 minutes. You’ll want your cake to look golden brown.
Check your cake by sticking a skewer into it — if it comes out clean, it’s done! If it comes out dirty, bake it for an additional five minutes.
Once it’s finished baking, take it out of the oven, brushing it with a honey and water mix. Stir together one tablespoon of honey and one of water.
Now flip the cake over onto a plate and move it into a plastic bag while it’s still hot, making sure the bag is sealed tightly around it without any air inside.
You can also wrap the cake in plastic wrap if you don’t have bags.
Once the still-hot cake is secured in plastic, you’ll want to leave it be on the counter for 12 hours.
Once 12 hours have passed, you’re ready to chow down! Cut off the golden-brown sides of your cake, and cut into slices to serve.
Remember that it may take a few tries before you get the cake right. Don’t give up right away! You can do it!
Recommended Read: 15 Mistakes To Avoid When Baking A Cake
You might be wondering if there are there any other castella cake flavors, and the answer is yes.
There are a few different flavors of castella cake, including matcha and chocolate.
To make matcha castella cake, you’ll need a few additional ingredients.
For a matcha castella sponge cake, you’ll need eggs, sugar, flour, milk, honey, and matcha green tea powder.
For chocolate, you’ll need sugar, flour, honey, eggs, and cocoa powder.
There are other flavors and kinds of castella cake too, including brown sugar and baby castella. Baby castella are tiny, bite-sized cakes.
History of Castella Cake
Castella cake has a backstory as rich as the flavor of honey. Also, Castella sponge cake was first brought to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century.
Ships would come into Japanese ports that were open for foreign trading, and their sailors introduced this cake to the people of Japan.
Since the cake was and still is easy to store for long periods of time, it was proved to be very useful to people who found themselves out at sea for months at a time. As the years passed, the recipe used to make castella cake changed to suit the tastes of Japanese citizens, bringing us the recipes we know today.
In more recent times, this cake is popular in festivals and celebrations, as well as a casual afternoon treat.
Taiwanese vs. Japanese Castella Cake
Since castella cakes originated in Taiwan, it makes sense that their recipes would be different.
The biggest difference between Japanese and Taiwanese castella cakes is that the Japanese cake is slightly gooey, springy, and has a dark crust. Taiwanese is jiggly.
The Taiwanese cake is closer to a soufflé than a sponge cake. These changes stem from the slightly different ingredients the Taiwanese recipe calls for.
Traditional Japanese Desserts
But castella cake isn’t the only delicious dessert that comes out of Nagasaki in Japan. There are other treats you can make at your home – just like this one!
- There is a treat called rusks, which is also a very popular food. Rusks are dried castella cakes, which are a crunchy treat commonly dipped in chai. Think of rusks as a kind of biscotti.
- Another way to eat castella cakes is to turn them into a roll and fill them with sweet bean paste. It’s a cake sandwich called Mikasayama. Mikasayama can also be filled with cream, jam, and chocolate.
- Another kind of cake you should look into making is dorayaki. Dorayaki is a little dessert made out of two small cake-like pancakes with sweet bean paste in the middle of them. They have a subtle flavor that will make you want more than one.
- And finally, if you’re looking for a teatime treat, Yori Yori might be something to consider! Yoriyori is a sweet biscuit that is typically enjoyed with tea. These biscuits are however of Chinese descent, but the Yori Yori we’re talking about come from Japanese chefs.
Castella Cake: FAQs and Tips
Like any other recipe, there are always tips to make everything easier. From using room-temperature eggs to adjusting the oven temperature to fit your recipe, there are tons of tips to help you make the best cake possible.
So, below are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to make castella cake.
To make the best cake possible, we’ve brought you some of the most helpful tips out there:
- The first is to keep an eye on your oven. Since different ovens have different ways of operating, you may have to adjust the baking time or oven temperature.
- Since these cakes are traditionally made in a wooden frame, one of the best ways to help your cake bake evenly is to use a lined baking pan. It may also help to set your oven to a lower temperature.
- To prevent your castella from shrinking once it comes out of the oven, bang it on the counter a couple of times before allowing it to rest.
- You should also bang the pan with the unbaked batter on your counter before it goes into the oven.
- And finally, placing your castella to bake on the lower rack of your oven will yield the best results.
How to Make Vegan Castella
If you’re vegan and still want to try castella cake, that’s not a problem at all!
You’ll have to adjust the recipe, and gather up ingredients you’re comfortable with. So, you’ll need a vegan egg replacement, sugar, vegan honey, bread flour, baking powder, and aquafaba.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease your loaf pan, setting the pan aside for later.
- Measure out your egg substitute, and place one cup of aquafaba in a bowl. Begin whisking the aquafaba with an electric mixer on low speed.
- Gradually sift the sugar into the aquafaba and increase the speed of the mixer. It’s sort of like making meringue. You should beat the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes.
- You’ll know that mix is ready when it is light and fluffy with stiff peaks.
- Mix the vegan egg and 1/3 cup of vegan honey and then add it to your aquafaba and sugar mixture. Use a spatula to mix them gently.
- Then sift in your cup and a half of flour and teaspoon of baking powder, adding it to your wet mixture a half cup at a time. Fold it lightly.
- All there is left to do is bake it for 30 to 40 minutes, coat it with honey, wrap it with plastic once it’s finished, and leave it be for at least 8 hours.
Once it’s sliced, you have successfully made vegan castella cake!
How Does Castella Cake Rise?
You might be wondering how castella cake rises since there isn’t any baking powder or yeast required in the basic recipe.
Traditional castella cake rises thanks to a bottomless wooden frame. When the sides of the cake are properly insulated, the cake will rise.
Another factor in how the cake rises is the eggs. When the eggs are at room temperature (instead of cold) it will allow the cake to bake and rise properly.
What Should I Serve with Castella Cake?
Castella cake can be served with teas and coffees — it also makes a great breakfast cake, too!
Since castella sponge cake has a very light, mild sweetness, it pairs very well with green tea. It’s also quite delicious with iced coffee, too!
How Do I Store Castella Cake?
Castella cake is very easy to store away.
Wrap up individual pieces of the cake with plastic wrap, and choose a storage method.
It can be stored at room temperature for three to five days, in the fridge for five to seven days, and even for a whole month in the freezer.
You can also turn your castella cake into rusks, which keep for about three months when stored away properly.
If you’re looking to give castella cake as a gift, it’s best to wrap each piece individually before placing the cake in a larger container.
Enjoy Your Castella Cake!
Now you know everything there is to know about making your own castella cake! Whatever flavor you choose to bake, we’re sure it will come out amazing.
Get out there and get baking! Whether you’re making it for a festival or for a quiet afternoon with coffee, we hope you love this fluffy sponge cake as much as we do.
Which flavor cake is your favorite? What do you like to serve with castella cake? Leave us a comment down below and let us know how your cake came out. We always look forward to hearing from you!