recipe

Castella Cake: the easy Japanese recipe for a fluffy dessert

Total time: 75 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 10 people
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Ingredients
Flour
90 g (3.06 oz)
butter at room temperature
90 g (3.06 oz)
Milk
90 ml (2.9 oz)
Egg yolks
5
salt
a pinch
Honey
2 tsp
Vanilla Extract
1 tsp
Egg whites
5
Sugar
90 g (3.1 oz)

A delicious cake made with only a handful of ingredients? Yes, it can be done! This Castella Cake is an easy Japanese sponge cake, made with flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and honey. It’s also known by its other name, Kasutera. It’s a super light and fluffy cake sweetened with honey.

The cake is said to have been introduced in the Nagasaki area (back in the 16th century), by Portuguese merchants. In fact, the full Portuguese name “Pao de Castela” means bread from Castile, which is why it’s called Castella Cake. The traditional Castella Cake uses only four ingredients (flour, eggs, sugar, and honey), but we added a few extra.

Unlike a regular sponge cake, which relies on leavening agents like baking powder to make it rise, this cake only uses eggs, which makes it super delicate and fluffy. It’s light as a feather and almost melts in the mouth. This is the softest cake ever and so easy to make!

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What is Castella Cake?

Castella cake gets its name from the light and fluffy Pao de Castela that Portuguese merchants introduced to Nagasaki in the 16th century. But there is something special about this cake.

If you look at the ingredients list of the Castella Cake versus that of a typical cake, you might see a remarkable difference. Usually, cakes rely on leavening agents like baking powder, baking soda, and some acidic ingredients to cause them to rise. In this cake, the whipped eggs are enough to make this cake light and fluffy.

In Japan it’s so popular, you can find it in stores all over the country.

Castella Ingredients

Traditional Castella Cake only has four ingredients:

Bread flour – make sure to use bread flour with a high percentage of protein

Eggs – don’t use an egg substitute, eggs are critical in this recipe as it creates lift

Sugar – this adds sweetness to the cake

Honey – this adds just a light honey flavor

How To Make Castella Cake

Melt the butter and combine it with the honey, salt, and egg yolks, whisking it all together until thick and foamy. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites. Keep in as much air as possible (don’t beat again, just fold in the egg whites).

Pour the batter into a baking pan and cover with parchment paper. Bake in a water bath (or bain-marie) at the times and temperatures specified. Slice and serve!

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Tips

Use high-protein flour. This means the flour will have enough gluten to allow the cake to rise properly.

To make sure the cake rises enough, you must beat the egg yolk mixture until thick and creamy.

Don’t skip the sifting process, otherwise, the cake won’t be as light and fluffy.

Once you add the flour, don’t overbeat the mixture.

This cake shouldn’t be made gluten-free as it needs gluten to rise.

If you see that it cracks on top, it could be that your oven temperature is too high (use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is accurate). Leave the cake in the oven to cool, if it cools too fast, it might also start to crack.

Using vanilla extract can reduce the eggy flavor in the cake.

For a green matcha cake, add 1 ½ tbsp high-quality matcha green tea powder to the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine.

This recipe is different from a Taiwanese Castella Cake that is more like a souffle and is a bit more jiggly.

How To Serve Castella Cake

Serve the cake with your favorite fruit preserves and ice cream.

How To Store Castella

Store Castelle Cake in the fridge (in an airtight container) for up to 2 days. You can also freeze them. Wrap individual slices in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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Instructions  

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Melt butter with milk together, add honey into the mixture.

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Whisk sifted flour into a large mixing bowl, together with a pinch of salt.

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Add the egg yolks and whisk to combine.

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Whip egg whites with sugar until stiff peaks form.

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Fold whipped egg whites into the batter carefully, to keep in as much air as possible. Pour the batter into 20×20 cm pan, covered with parchment.

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Place the pan over a bain-marie and bake at 150C/300F for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 140C/290F for 15 minutes and finally bake the last 20 minutes at 130C/270F.

Notes

Make sure to bake the cake long enough so that it is fully cooked on the inside.

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