Castella Recipe: Regular, Matcha and Houjicha
Castella is a popular Japanese sponge cake. This cake was introduced to Japan by Portuguese merchants back in the 16th century. At that time, use of dairy products was not normal in Japan and it so happened that the Pão de Castela (the Portuguese name for this cake that means “bread from Castile”) was one of the few European cakes that did not use dairy products in its recipe. This was the reason why this cake survived in Japan...and eventually evolved into the current Japanese version called “castella”.
Different households will have many variations of the castella recipe. Here we introduce a recipe in three flavours that we have tried ourselves (and they turned out good too!) Regular, matcha and houjicha castellas.
200 g bread flour (not cake flour)
300 g sugar
50 cc honey
50 cc cooking oil
50 cc milk
**3 tbsp matcha (or 3 tbsp powdered houjicha*)
*Use an electric mill to ground regular houjicha tea leaves to a fine powder.
**Just omit the matcha or houjicha if you want regular castella.
You will need:
9” x 9” cake pan & parchment paper
large bowl (for mixing)
large pan (big enough to hold the large bowl)
Pre-heat oven to 370℉ (about 190℃). Spread parchment paper over the cake pan.
Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Put hot water in the large pan. Keep the bowl warm by putting it in the large pan. WIth a electric whisk, whisk (at high speed) the eggs and sugar until very thick (might take a long time...10~15 mins). The mixture should be thick and consistent enough that you can write letters on it with your finger.
Add honey, milk and oil and whisk for another minute.
Mix the tea (matcha or houjicha) and flour. Slowly sift into the batter while continuously whisking.
Put the batter into the cake pan. Bake at 370℉ (about 190℃) for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature down to 300℉ (about 150℃) and bake for another 30 minutes. Check by sticking a toothpick in the cake. If nothing sticks to it when you pull it out, then you can take cake pan out of the oven.
Let it cool a bit. When it is cool enough to touch (but must still be warm), take the cake out of the pan and wrap it with the plastic wrap. Make sure it is thoroughly sealed in. (Note: If you let the cake cool down to room temperature without wrapping, your castella will become dry.)
Let it cool down and put in refrigerator for one day.
Use a sharp knife and cut into small squares. Serve with Japanese tea!