Japanese Coffee Castella Cake

עוגת קסטלה קפהWe absolutely adore Japan. The culture, the landscapes, the people, the mystery, the blend of traditional and modern, the food, the desserts, everything. We’ve been there three times already, and we’re planning to visit again soon. By the way, Mamush is in charge of planning our trips, and according to the map she prepared, we’ll need to spend at least two years there to see everything she has planned for us 🙂

עוגת קסטלה קפהעוגת קסטלה קפהDuring our visits to Japan, we were introduced to one of our favorite cakes in this special country—the Castella cake. Castella is a classic Japanese sponge cake that used to characterize the Nagasaki area, but today you can find it in every corner of Japan. Originally, Castella comes from Portugal, where it’s called Bolo de Castela, meaning Castilian cake. In the 16th century, when Portuguese traders began arriving in Nagasaki, they brought with them products that were unique and new to the Japanese, including Castella cake, which was perfect for the long journey.

עוגת קסטלה קפהעוגת קסטלה קפהThe original Castella cake is a very delicate golden sponge cake, airy and moist, without any strong flavors or different colors. Today, of course, you can find various variations such as matcha, chocolate, almonds, and more. The most important ingredient in the cake is eggs, so it’s recommended to use very high-quality eggs. In Japan, they use Mizuame syrup as part of the cake’s sweeteners, but since it’s less accessible in the West, I mainly use honey.

עוגת קסטלה קפהEvery time we returned from Japan, we stocked up on quite a few of these delicate cakes, sold in a long rectangular unit that is cut into small rectangles or in individual rectangular slices wrapped in plastic, as the Japanese know. Recently, during a visit to one of the new coffee shops in Paris, we tasted a Coffee Castella Cake and fell in love. Immediately, we turned to Akira Takahashi, the Japanese pastry chef at the place, and together we decided to cook the cake for you, including the recipe!

עוגת קסטלה קפהSo first, a recommendation for the coffee. The name of this great coffee shop is Pontochoux Cafe. The café is located in the northern part of the Marais, adjacent to the trendy Pontochoux restaurant, and it’s actually owned by the same owners. There, you can drink excellent coffee and enjoy the wonderful pastries of Takahashi, such as an amazing Mont Blanc, Castella cake, black sesame financiers, green tea Panna Cotta, and more.

עוגת קסטלה קפהTakahashi agreed to share the recipe with me, and when I made it at home, he was online with me to advise and assist. During the preparation, I realized how much professionalism is required for making this simple cake. Although I’ve made it several times before, I’m still not completely satisfied with the result, and each time I feel that I’m improving more and more. By the way, this Coffee Castella Cake fits perfectly as a sponge cake in my Tiramisu recipe.

עוגת קסטלה קפהImportant tip: Pay very close attention to the quantities and weigh every ingredient carefully; accuracy is crucial for Castella. Additionally, the pearl sugar at the bottom of the mold is critical for the success of the recipe and for preserving the cake’s fluffy texture over time. Good luck! 🤞

עוגת קסטלה קפהCoffee Castella Cake
23cm square pan, 7cm height 

Ingredients
175g egg yolks
115g honey (I use Acacia honey)
25g Muscovado sugar or brown sugar
225g egg whites 
110g sugar
170g all-purpose flour
20g fine grind coffee (like for espresso)
30g butter, melted
25g whole milk

Pearl sugar

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit), grease the pan, and precisely line it with parchment paper. Sprinkle pearl sugar on the parchment paper (see image).
2. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks, honey, and Muscovado sugar by hand. Place the bowl over a bain-marie and whisk continuously until it reaches a temperature of 35-37 degrees Celsius (95-99 degrees Fahrenheit). Set aside to cool.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip egg whites with one-third of the white sugar, continue whipping, and gradually add the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form.
4. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg yolk mixture. Whip until a uniform mass is obtained.
5. Transfer the egg and yolk mixture to a large bowl.
6. Mix together the flour and coffee powder, and add one-third of the mixture to the egg mixture. Fold gently and add another third each time, folding until a uniform mass is obtained. Be careful not to deflate the mixture; gentle folding is crucial.
7. Pour in the melted butter and milk and continue folding until fully incorporated into the batter.
8. Pour the batter over the pearl sugar scattered on the bottom of the pan and smooth the top. Run a knife gently in a figure-eight motion through the batter to release air bubbles.
9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is stable. Remove from the oven and invert onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
10. Peel off the parchment paper from the cake gently so that the side with the pearl sugar is now facing upwards. Flip it back (now the pearl sugar will be the bottom) onto a large, deep baking pan lined with parchment paper and let it cool slightly.
11. While the cake is still warm, wrap the pan in cling film and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
12. Remove from the refrigerator, cut into squares, allow to come to room temperature, and serve.
*It can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature. The cake improves with time.

Bon-Appétit
Sharon

Comments

  • 28 February 2024
    Julia R

    Hi Sharon
    Thank you so much for your generous sharing of your experience.
    I faithfully follow your work and try many of the recipes you publish and they are all so accurate and always succeed and their cultural diversity is charming to me. Thank you for a cake from the Japanese culture that you have not yet known🇯🇵
    Julia R

    reply
  • 28 February 2024
    Kevin

    This sounds delicious. I have never used pearl sugar. Do you use Swedish or Belgian pearl sugar?

    reply
  • 28 February 2024
    Raynira

    Hi Sharon Thank to sharing your amazing recipes with us I’m literally obsess with your account. Is muscovado dark or light? Thank you

    reply
  • 29 February 2024
    mitakshij@gmail.com

    Hi the recipe is sooo tempting. But I’m vegan. Can u plz share a vegan recipe of the same too.

    reply
  • 29 February 2024
    Siswahju Winoto

    Hello,

    What type of flour do you use? Cake or All purpose flour?

    Merci!

    reply
  • 10 May 2024
    Kina

    Is it 30 grams of butter before or after melting?

    reply

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