Tag Archives: Japanese Cakes

My Fascination with A Simple Sponge Cake ~ Castella!

I have this fascination with a simple sponge cake I found in Japan.  It is Castella or to the Japanese, Kasutera (カステラ).  It is Portuguese in origin but the Japanese made it popular … or rather it originated from pão-de-ló, a portuguese cake.  Most of the castella cake businesses started in Nagasaki, a port town in Kyushu, and which was naturally influenced by imports from foreign ships in its early days.

~ Original Castella Cake from Fukusaya ~

~ Original Castella Cake from Fukusaya ~



In my first few weeks at CIAML, I asked Chef Sebastien about this cake.  I guess Castella is not popular outside Japan.  The other country where Castella is popular is Taiwan, since the country was previously occupied by Japanese for years in her history.  I wanted to know how the cake can be so evenly baked and cut.  I passed Chef a cd containing a pix of the cake, and a summary of some information I found on the net, and I believed he has not viewed the file on the cd yet.  Ha! 

During my recent trip to Osaka, I bought one from Fukusaya for BK and myself, and another bigger one to bring to the hotel where I was last attached to.  To many, it was just a 蛋糕,literally mean Egg cake.  Oh well, it is.  It is a sponge cake made of  sugar, flour and eggs, and starch syrup(?).  The original version is honey-flavoured.  Now it comes with Matcha flavoured and Cocoa flavoured.  Most of the pastry team at the hotel gobbled the cake before a second look, while a few appreciated the cake for the texture, taste, and simplicity.  Do you have the recipe?  The Pastry Chef asked.  I believed it is widely available on the net, it was the precision in baking resulting in a evenly flat cake and the packaging that made this cake special, at least to me.

I simply love it ~ a simple, honest and perfectly baked moist piece of art.   


Castella evenness

~ Castella evenness ~

It is a perfect cut!

BK and I shared half the cake over supper one night with hot milo, a local chocolate drink.  Then I got to finish the rest for breakfast over the last 2 mornings, because I got to wake up later than him to have a leisurely breakfast.  A light sugar crunch on the bottom, a subtle honey flavour, a light evenly fluffy texture, with a perfect flat brown top.

And the packaging ~ yes, you can trust the work of Japanese packaging.  Meticulously wrapped and boxed to keep the cubiod cake intact.

~ part of the packaging ~

~ part of the packaging ~


~ Castella box ~

I didn’t manage to take a picture of the full packaging, I was all ready to taste a huge mouthful.  Then another.  And another.


~ Matcha Castella from Bunmeido ~

~ Matcha Castella from Bunmeido ~

I searched in my digital pix collection and found a pix of the full packaging of a Matcha flavoured Castella I bought last year from Narita Airport, Japan.  I was transiting at the airport enroute from California to Singapore, and found the matcha version from 文明堂, or Bunmeido.  The Bunmeido version was pre-cut, also evenly. 

It is definitely not going to be my last bite for this simple sponge cake.  It was perfect-o!  My fascination continues