Friday, May 27, 2011

Castella (Kasutera)

I fell in love with everything Japanese after a trip to Hokkaido. Everything there was made with perfection. From the food to the things that they use. Almost any food outlet that we stepped in was serving the best of everything I've ever tasted in my life. Even a simple tasting sponge cake.

The discovery of Castella was a pure accident to me. We were just killing time enjoying some milk ice cream from a farm in Niseko and we noticed a queue forming at the deli. It was a low tourist season and Japanese, unlike Singaporeans, do not usually queue up for something. The next moment, we smelt something wonderful. Just like a typical Singaporean, we joined in the queue! Sadly, the Castella was sold out before we could even see it. We went back to our resort but my greedy hubby just couldn't get the smell off his head... well, he drove back to the farm and got the next batch of Castella fresh from the oven.

Everything was history after we had that 1st Castella from Niseko. It was so good that we finished a 25cm x 25cm cake before we could take a good picture of it. Since we do not travel to Japan that often, I decided to try baking a Castella.

Before I started, I was studying the recipe from Just Hungry and looking at the notes from Little Teochew. It seems to me that this sponge cake is a lot like making a Genoise. As I am a lazy baker and depended largely on my stand mixer, I warmed up the eggs and sugar using a heat pack while running the whisk at speed 3-4. As the mixture gets colder, I will warm up the heat pack in the microwave and wrap it around the bowl. It took me a good 20mins to get a stable mixture.

I've never seen a sponge cake that can withstand that much beating! After observing this video, I used my whisk to fold in the flour, honey and milk. With much guts, I poured the batter into the tray from great heights and stirred the batter in the pan in a zig zag manner using a spatula.

I have to say that the final outcome tastes very close to the Japanese made Castella but even after following the instruction to store the cake in a sealed bag in the fridge while still hot, I still feel that it is a little dry. Moreover, the cakes in Japan was served fresh and were still good when left in the open for a few days despite the dry weather there. Perhaps I should adjust the baking time and milk volume the next time. :)

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