Castella is a Portuguese cake from Japan. (I’ll let that sink in for a moment.) Apparently, ancient Portuguese travelers brought this light, eggy sponge cake to Japan and it’s stayed ever since.
I only got wind of this cake because my globe-trotting sister was in Japan on business and brought back a castella from some famed Japanese bakery that uses holier-than-thou eggs. (But seriously, it was a delicious cake.) But the castella tasted an awful lot like a genoise sponge cake, so I had to look up the recipe.
Sure enough, it’s exactly like making a genoise sponge, i.e., beating tons of air into eggs and sugar before adding the other ingredients and baking. But the castella is even simpler because there’s no fat added so there’s no risk of the foam deflating. (If you haven’t made a genoise sponge, take my word for it, adding fat to an egg foam creates a ticking time-bomb of a batter.)
However, because of the added honey, this light sponge retains a surprising amount of moisture. You use bread flour as well, so that the final product as a good, elastic structure.
- 2 eggs
- 80g caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 25g honey
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 50g bread flour
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease and line a medium-sized loaf tin. (Mine’s 4″ x 9″ x 3″.)
Step 2: In a metal or glass bowl set over a stove-top pan of simmering water, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt together until all the sugar and salt have dissolved and the mixture is lightened and thickened. (This should take about 5 minutes.) Check out my genoise sponge post for pictures of this step.
Step 3: Transfer the egg mixture to your mixer and beat on high for 5 minutes. In the meantime, mix the honey and hot water together. Add slowly to the egg mixture.
Step 4: After 5 minutes, the batter should be even lighter and thicker and should have doubled or even tripled in volume. Sift in the bread flour and fold that in carefully.
Step 5: Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Drop the tin from about a foot’s height twice to release larger air bubbles, but no more lest you knock out all the air. Bake for 40 minutes.
Step 6: After removing the cake from the oven, drop it on the counter again from a foot’s height to release any large trapped air pockets. After it has cooled for 5 minutes, turn it out upside-down on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely. Cut thick slices with a serrated knife and serve.