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CASTELLA CAKE (카스테라 / カステラ).

4 January 2018 10 comments

Hello 2018! First blog post back after the new year and I thought it apt to share a recipe ;) Although this cake looks modest and unembellished, once you've tasted it, you'll know it needs no adornment. And not that this is at all my main focus, but it's pretty healthy going for something this moreish, so no need for any new-year-fuelled guilt!

I've made a decision not to do resolutions this year. And frankly, not to pressurise myself with the whole 'New Year New Start'. I had to run into town today to do a couple of errands and every store seems to be really pushing diet books, salads, active wear, exercise gear etc. I understand, of course, but this year I'm telling myself that any day is the right day to start, whether it's new year, the middle of February or the end of October. I can change my mind, take a different path, at any moment.

I've posted quite a few cake recipes here on BTB, and I think this has surpassed them all to the top of my favourites list. 

Castella cake (or Kastera/Kasutera) is a memory of mine that I haven't eaten since childhood. I didn't even know it as Castella cake back then, just 'cake', that my aunt used to buy when I was treated to a trip to the Korean bakery. It wasn't until F's serial-baker work colleague made some for that week's Friday treat (isn't he a lucky boy?) and he brought some home that I remembered how much I love the stuff.

Castella cake has a uniquely springy, moist texture, and slightly sweet, fragranced, honey taste. 

It appears to be a deceivingly simple recipe but it's almost notoriously difficult to make.. I should know! Because it's nigh-on impossible to purchase in Surrey/Berkshire (I'm yet to find anywhere but if you've anywhere up your sleeve then please let me know!), I've been a busy bee in the kitchen refining my technique...

I started off with this initial recipe which had some good pointers but needed some tweaking as my cakes came out tasting great but looking quite sad, split or sagging. A dozen or so cakes later and I'm really happy with my recipe now, I've made several cakes with this latest iteration and they've all come out just as I wanted! 

So quick, let me get the recipe down here before I can no longer make sense of my scribbled annotations!


3 large eggs
80g caster sugar (I've tried granulated and find caster works better).
100g bread flour
80ml honey

An extra 1-2 tbsp honey to be kept aside for soaking
2 tsp hot water


- Preheat an oven to 160 degrees celcius.

- Butter the inside of a 2lb loaf tin (I find one with sharp corners, rather than rounded, best).

- Prepare some greaseproof paper, by drawing round the tin, drawing out from the corners and cutting - the beginning of this video illustrates it perfectly. Line the tin with the paper, smoothing the paper against the sides so it sticks to the butter, and you've a neat result. 

- Sift the flour (between two bowls) four times. 

- Whisk up the eggs in a Kitchenaid (or large metal/glass bowl with an electric handmixer) until incorporated and slightly foamy. 

- Add the sugar and beat on a high setting for around 6-9 minutes. You're looking for the mixture to become voluminous, pale and creamy, quadruple in volume, and leave ribbons when you trail the whisk around.

- With the machine on slow (around a 2-3), dribble in the honey and mix just until combined (around 20-30 seconds).

- Sieve one third of the flour into the eggs, sugar and honey and whisk on the slowest setting for 15 seconds (I just count to 15, making sure the flour is lightly but thoroughly combined). Repeat with the remaining two thirds of flour until everything is combined. Don't overmix!

- Working fairly quickly, spatula the mix into the prepared loaf tin. Zigzag a metal skewer through the mix to eliminate air bubbles. Hold the tin around 2 inches above the counter and drop flat onto the countertop to eliminate bubbles and level the batter - do this a couple of times.

- Bake in the centre of an oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

- Whilst hot, tip the cake out onto a board covered in cling - it should pull away from the sides of the tin easily.

- Remove the tin and carefully peel the greaseproof off the cake and brush with the honey mixture. Immediately wrap tightly in cling (whilst still hot) and leave to cool. If you can bear it, overnight is best for a better texture, but I can't, and so unwrap and eat after around an hour.

- Greedily scoff. 

A few things to note:

one. // It's paramount that your eggs are at room temperature. If you've forgotten to take them out of the fridge, as I often do, place them into a bowl of warm water for at least half an hour, changing the water as it gets cold.

two. // I've found that a really good quality, finely milled flour makes all the difference. I'm using a locally milled bread flour I found at my local farm shop. I've tried Waitrose own-brand bread flour and my cake dipped quite a bit in the middle, and I found it harder to fold the flour in evenly. 

three. // Whilst you might think you can save time by not sieving the flour quite so much, I've found the more air I can incorporate really helps the texture and bake of the cake - so sorry, no cutting corners!

four. // For a less-traditional, but delicious sticky texture, wait for the cake to cool down for around 10 minutes before brushing with the honey mixture.

five. // I've found rotating the cake through 90 degrees every 5 or so minutes whilst it's initially cooling helps to keep the square shape.

I hope that if you have a go at this one that you love it as much as I do! (and of course share your results with me on my Instagram or Twitter!)

(and if you're feeling at all overwhelmed by this recipe but are still in the need of cake, let me direct you over to this deliciously simple lemon cake. You're welcome ;)

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