Castella, also known as Kasutera, is a traditional Japanese sponge cake prepared using bread flour, sugar, honey, and eggs. It is a type of wagashi (a traditional Japanese sweet meat) consisting of dark brown top and bottom crusts. The inside of this cake is a creamy yellow and its texture is very moist and bouncy.
There are many varieties of this Japanese delicacy, prepared using ingredients such as powdered green tea, brown sugar and honey, and they also come in various different shapes. Sold almost everywhere in the country, castella is usually accompanied with green tea or iced coffee.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The name originates from the Portuguese “Pão de Castela”, which means “bread from Castile”.
Castella was introduced to Japan in the 16th century by the Portuguese missionaries who travelled to the Nagasaki area (which used to be a Portuguese trading outpost). Many Portuguese sailors used to carry castella with them since they were at sea for several months and castella could be stored for a long period of time.
However, castella has gone through several changes over the course of time, with its taste finally suiting the Japanese palates.
Japanese Castella Recipe
- Eggs - 6
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Bread flour - 1⅔ cup
- Honey - ⅓ cup
- Warm water - 2½ tbsp
For the Honey Syrup
- Honey - 1 tbsp
- Warm water - ½ tbsp
- Begin by preheating the oven to 320ºF (160ºC). If you’re using a convection oven, make sure you reduce the temperature by 25ºF (15ºC) to 295ºF (145ºC).
- Next, take parchment paper and cut it in such a way that it fits the baking pans. You may require two loaf pans (8½ x 4½ x 2¾ inches).
To make the batter
- Take a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift the flour twice.
- Next, take some honey in a small bowl, add warm water to it and whisk well.
- Attach the stand mixer to the whisk attachment. Crack the eggs into the mixer’s bowl and whisk well.
- Once done, add sugar to the whisked eggs and beat the egg-sugar mixture on high speed for about 5 minutes. Keep in mind that if you use the handheld mixer to beat the eggs, it might take more time. However, the volume of the eggs would be greater and the texture would be thicker. In the end, you will find the colour of the eggs to be pale yellow.
- Now, transfer the honey mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk for about 30 seconds on low speed until all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Put in the bread flour in three batches. Add the first batch and whisk at low speed for about 15 seconds. Then, add the second and whisk for the next 15 seconds. Lastly, put in the final batch and whisk until all the ingredients are combined, but make sure you don’t overmix. This will take you approximately 1 minute.
- Take the loaf pans and brush them with oil.
- Place the parchment paper on the pans and ensure they stick properly to the pans. If required, brush more oil into the pan.
- Transfer the batter to the pans at about 80% full.
- Make sure you get rid of the air bubbles in the batter by drawing a zigzag line through it with the help of a skewer.
- Next, hold each pan about 2 inches above the surface and let it fall flat onto the surface. This ensures leveling of the batter, and repeating this procedure several times helps release the air bubbles.
- For about 35-40 minutes, allow the batter to bake at 320ºF in the middle section of the oven. You’ll know it’s done once the cake turns golden brown in colour and a skewer inserted into it comes out clean.
- Prepare the honey syrup by combining the honey with warm water in a bowl. Once mixed properly, brush the tops of the cakes with syrup using a pastry brush.
- Take the hot cakes out of the pan and place them top down on a plastic wrap. Carefully remove the parchment paper.
- Instantly cover the cakes with plastic wrap for them to retain moisture. Place the wrapped cakes in the refrigerator and keep them overnight (or at least 12 hours). Remember to place the top side facing down. This enables the cakes to develop a smooth and moist texture.
- After storing them overnight, take the cakes out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature. Get rid of the four sides of the cake and slice the cake into ¾- to 1-inch-thick slices, and voila! Your castella is ready to be served!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1216Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 558mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 239gFiber: 3gSugar: 155gProtein: 33g