If you’re looking for a sponge cake that isn’t too sweet, yet is just as delicious eaten alone as it is with a little extra jam, look no further than a wonderful Japanese Kasutera (sometimes called Castella cake). It’s a variation of an old Portugese recipe from the 16th century with a decidedly Japanese flavor to it.
Japan is the land of simple beauty, and that even shows in its cuisine. Kasutera is traditionally made with only a few simple ingredients (eggs, sugar, flour, honey, and water) and most recipes only vary in the amounts of each that are used. Traditionally, the cake is baked in a wooden box, but considering most of us don’t have that on hand we decided to stick with using a metal bread loaf pan. The reason the wood is traditionally used is to prevent too much heat transferring to the dough and over-baking it. To compensate, we baked at a low temperature (only 320F) and quickly removed the cake from the loaf pan. After adding a little honey-and water glaze after baking, make sure to quickly wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, keeping the top facing down. This keeps the cake wonderfully moist. Keep reading below for this delicious Japanese recipe…
(makes 1 small loaf)
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons bread flour
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- Coat two 7 1/2″x3 1/2″ bread loaf pans with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper.
- Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until combined and frothy. Add the sugar, then beet the eggs hard until the volume of the beaten eggs has increased by about 4 times and the color becomes a pale yellow. Lifting the whisk should make the mixture falls back in ribbons.
- Quickly whisk together 5 tablespoons honey and 2 1/2 tablespoons warm water, then add to the egg mixture. Whisk gently until just combined. Add the bread flour in three separate batches, mixing gently between each batch until all of the flour is just incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into both of the bread loaf pans and use a skewer to draw a zigzag through the batter to remove air bubbles. Lift the pan slightly, then drop flat onto the counter to level and release more air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes, then open the oven door slightly ajar and bake another 3-5 minutes. When removed from the oven, the top of the cake should feel spongy.
- Quickly mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 tablespoon warm water ,and brush it on top of the cake with a pastry brush. Lay out plastic wrap onto the counter, and turn the cake over onto the plastic wrap. Peel away the parchment paper, and completely wrap the cake in the plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 12 hours. To serve, slice the sides off the cake with a sharp bread knife, then cut into thick slices. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Roti n Rice