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Honey Castella

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45 replies to this topic

#1 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 09:00 PM

I tried to make Pichot Ong's honey castella twice, and it sank in the middle. I have seen 5 recipes on the web and one says to beat low 15 minutes, fill pan to top, then weigh it down (like pain de mie?) after the top browns. This would result in a tight crumb sponge, I'm guessing. Is this correct? I'm going to try one more time, this time not greasing the pan and inverting it to cool, like a chiffon. But I was wondering if anyone had first hand experience of honey castella.

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Edited by Mary Elizabeth, 15 July 2008 - 09:14 PM.


#2 SuzySushi

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 09:45 PM

I'm not familiar with Pichot Ong's recipe. This is mine, which I worked out 30+ years ago by trial and error. It's baked in a square pan, not a loaf pan, but the taste is right. The main trick is to not underbeat it.

Kasutera (Castella Cake)

6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Using an electric mixer, beat 3 eggs and 3 egg yolks until light. Gradually adding sugar, beat until the mixture falls in ribbons, about 6 minutes. Beat in honey, pouring it in a stream.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Fold into egg mixture.

Beat remaining egg whites until stiff. Fold into egg mixture.

Bake 45 minutes in a well-greased 9" square pan. Check cake after 30 minutes and if top is golden, cover with foil and continue baking.

Remove cake from pan. Reinvert and let cool on a rack.

Sprinkle top with confectioners' sugar.
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#3 Kuma

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 02:40 AM

The recipe I use (I think I got it here somewhere?):

5 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Honey
1/2 cup sifted flour
2 tablespoons pure Icing sugar

Preheat oven 175c

Beat Eggs, sugar & honey until thick and creamy.

Fold in flour and beat well.

pour batter into greased 23cm X 30cm rectangle tin

Bake 15 mins

Stir mix with a spoon

Bake 15 mins

Stir with a spoon

Bake 15 mins

Allow cake to cool in pan

Dust with icing sugar, slice & serve


This one always works for me. :cool:

ETA: I think the stirring twice while baking means you don't need to press it to get that lovely dense crumb texture. Yummy !

Edited by Kuma, 16 July 2008 - 02:44 AM.


#4 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 11:02 AM

SuzySushi and Kuma--Thank you so much for replying. I'm amazed that strangers can be so helpful. I'll definately incorporate your advice and post a pic when I get it right.

Kuma--One internet recipe said to disturb the surface of the castella several times as it begins to bake, popping any bubbles. That advice is similar to your stirring suggestion, to get the dense crumb that distinguishes it from a typical sponge.

#5 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 11:01 AM

Castella Collapse Syndrome:

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SuzySushi and Kuma--Seven minutes into baking, I ran a chop stick zigzig across the top of the soon to be collapsed castella. I decided to skip the fancy techniques and just bake it in ungreased pan and invert, like a typical foam cake, which gave me the flat top I wanted.

That you very much for responding to my request!

#6 Kuma

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 07:18 PM

Mmm.. I'd still eat the collapsed one :wink:

#7 shinju

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 10:36 PM

Castella Collapse Syndrome:

Posted Image

SuzySushi and Kuma--Seven minutes into baking, I ran a chop stick zigzig across the top of the soon to be collapsed castella.  I decided to skip the fancy techniques and just bake it in ungreased pan and invert, like a typical foam cake, which gave me the flat top I wanted. 

That you very much for responding to my request!

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These are both the cakes you made? When you say you inverted the cake after 7 minutes, you actually did invert the cake right? This is so interesting - I love it. The one on the left is much taller than the one on the right. Big difference in their tallness. The one on the left seems to have more open crumb texture. How did it taste?

I've seen a show of one kasutera maker in Japan and they were using the pullman style bread pan with the top in his shop. I was really surprised at how dark and brown the surface of their kasutera was, but they looked really good.

#8 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 09:25 PM

Shinju--Sorry about my confusing sentence. I tried to be brief and I was confusing.

I baked the collapsed cake in a loaf pan lined with greased parchment, then after 7 minutes in the oven, I disturbed the surface, as suggested in an internet recipe. The point of this, I guess, was to limit the rise and keep the crumb tight and keep the cake from collapsing in the middle. As you see it collapsed all over and became very dense. So I baked the same recipe a second time like a typical foam cake, using an ungreased loaf pan, and inverting it after baking. I got the flat top I wanted, but the castella I see in stores has a finer crumb.

The two cakes in the picture are the same recipe and same size pan. The collapsed one was too gummy to eat. The tall one was good. I use Pichot Ong's recipe, which has a good taste. I used the genoise method to foam the eggs in the cakes in the picture. For the cake at the top of this thread I got a finer crumb when I made the Ong recipe with a separate foam method.

I'm glad you mentioned the pullman pan, because that was going to be my next experiment. An internet recipe mentioned filling the loaf pan to the top and weighting the top down with a sheet pan once it browned. But I have a nice pullman pan I want to try.

You also mention the darker crust, which I like. The castella I see in stores has a dark brown crust than I am unable to get--I even tried malt powder, which another internet recipe suggested, but that didn't help.

Thank you so much for the suggestion of the pullman pan. If you remember anything else--like, did they bake it the full time with the top on, or did they have the top off at the beginning or the end? did the fill the batter to the top of the pan or half way?--let me know.

Edited by Mary Elizabeth, 27 July 2008 - 12:28 PM.


#9 shinju

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 09:03 PM

Shinju--Sorry about my confusing sentence.  I tried to be brief and I was confusing.

I baked the collapsed cake in a loaf pan lined with greased parchment, then after 7 minutes in the oven, I disturbed the surface, as suggested in an internet recipe.  The point of this, I guess, was to limit the rise and keep the crumb tight and keep the cake from collapsing in the middle.  As you see it collapsed all over and became very dense.  So I baked the same recipe a second time like a typical foam cake, using an ungreased loaf pan, and inverting it after baking.  I got the flat top I wanted, but the castella I see in stores has a finer crumb.

The two cakes in the picture are the same recipe and same size pan.  The collapsed one was too gummy to eat.  The tall one was good.  I use Pichot Ong's recipe, which has a good taste. I used the genoise method to foam the eggs in the cakes in the picture.  For the cake at the top of this thread I got a finer crumb when I made the Ong recipe with a separate foam method.

I'm glad you mentioned the pullman pan, because that was going to be my next experiment.  An internet recipe mentioned filling the loaf pan to the top and weighting the top down with a sheet pan once it browned.  But I have a nice pullman pan I want to try. 

You also mention the darker crust, which I like.  The castella I see in stores has a dark brown crust than I am unable to get--I even tried malt powder, which another internet recipe suggested, but that didn't help. 

Thank you so much for the suggestion of the pullman pan.  If you remember anything else--like, did they bake it the full time with the top on, or did they have the top off at the beginning or the end?  did the fill the batter to the top of the pan or half way?--let me know.

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When you say separate foam method, I assume you are talking about separate yolk and white part? Can you share the recipe you are using? I've tried quite a bit of kasutera recipes over the years and to be honest, I have not been 100% happy with the results. Like you mentioned, too many produce open crumb texture and not fine enough. However, recently I bought a store bought kasutera and I was so disappointed in it so perhaps my standard of perfect kasutera may not be the model kasutera.

What I remember from the show (wish I can remember which one it was), but it was closed off with the top on the whole time. I wish I remember how much they filled it, but I don't remember it. They had a huge tub of foam that they scooped into the pan and top on. The texture was quite dense and very fine looking. If I remember anymore I'll post.

Edited by shinju, 04 August 2008 - 09:04 PM.


#10 shinju

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 09:12 PM

I found the recipe for Pichet Ong's version. His recipe calls for oil. Is that right? It seems really odd to me to add oil to kasutera.

#11 shinju

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 10:58 PM

I was quickly checking Japanese sites for kasutera and found the following one that you may enjoy. They seem to use flatter pan and the batter is quite full going in. As you can see, there is a flat metal on top coming out.

http://www.castella....ll3.shtml#movie

Edited by shinju, 04 August 2008 - 11:02 PM.


#12 sanrensho

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 11:53 PM

I found the recipe for Pichet Ong's version.  His recipe calls for oil.  Is that right?  It seems really odd to me to add oil to kasutera.

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It is odd. I looked at the ingredients of various castella cakes recently while in Japan, and I don't recall oil in any of them.

My gold standard for castella is Bunmeido, but this is coming from an (ex-)Tokyoite.

I have also tried several castella recipes and have never come even remotely close to the moistness and texture of Bunmeido castella. As you say, the results are generally too light and the crumb too open.

Based on my few trials to date, I would say that it's essential to use an invert sugar (honey, mizuame or some combination thereof).

Edited by sanrensho, 05 August 2008 - 12:14 AM.

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#13 C J Phillips

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 12:13 AM

I too have been trying to make the perfect castella cake, but so far have been stymied. The flavor is good, but they just don't look right or have the right texture. The ones I used to adore in Taipei were dense in crumb but light in texture, about three inches high, slightly eggy, and with a lovely honey flavor. I can't wait to try the above recipes and suggestions; thanks!
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#14 shinju

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 12:57 AM

I found this information with one of the kasutera maker's site. It's roughly translated as

"kasutera needs to be steam baked to make sure that inside is fully baked. Without the top on the heat cannot penetrate the inside properly and the top gets too hard and will not produce beautiful product."

I plan on trying one of the recipes I found online and incorporate some instructions from these sites. Will most likely use a square pan and place a metal cookie sheet on top.

Speaking of Bunmeido, here is a picture of Bunmeido's kasutera. Notice how dark the top is, but that darkness does not penetrate that much into the lighter area. Also, notice the texture, it is very uniform.

Posted Image

Edited by shinju, 05 August 2008 - 01:25 AM.


#15 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 07:21 PM

C T Philips--The Ong recipe has a nice eggy taste--it has extra yolks and a 1:1 ratio of weight of whites to yolks. Yes--"dense in crumb but light in texture" --that's the elusive part.

sanrensho--RE: oil --I compared 7 recipes, Ong's and internet. Two recipes contained only the egg/sugar/honey/flour, 2 added milk, 2 added oil and milk, and Ong's was the only one with only oil added.

shinju--WOW! That video was great! And the photo of Bunmeido's fine crumb and thin layer of dark crust was just what I have been picturing in my mind.

You completely cleared up the covering of the baking cake. The cake went into the oven without the cover, when they pulled it out, it had the cover on. One of the internet recipes said that when the top was brown, you cover it with a sheet pan. I thought that was to press down on the cake to make it dense. But your quote says it is done to steam the interior, and the video shows that the cover is not touching the top of the cake.

The other mystery solved was the occasional instructions to somehow pop the bubbles in the finished batter. The guy in the video stirred the batter in a zig-zag, scraping the bottom, right before it went in the oven.

I have been beating my eggs and sugar to a thick foam, but I noticed the video eggs didn't hold a ribbon and the final batter was very runny. Only the recipe from recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe says that the batter will be thin, and it is similar to suzysushi's above, only with 4 eggs and 1/4 c milk.

I have seen a web site mention the special wooden castella form, like the one used in the video. The cake seemed only about 2" high, right?

I hope you all post your experiments and successes. I'll try again with all the new info. Shinju, thank you again for all that great information.

Shinju--Your website "Back to Square One" is very well done. Beautiful pictures and well written recipes of home-style japanese food. When I clicked "my webpage" I got the Recipezaar site, then from there to your Square One. Maybe we can see a castella recipe on your site?

Edited by Mary Elizabeth, 06 August 2008 - 02:33 PM.


#16 C J Phillips

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 04:08 PM

Okay, today I made SuzySushi's recipe, and it really turned out well. Great flavor, great texture. I baked it in an 11x17" pan (couldn't find any 9x9's around, and I was under the gun, so it had to bake fast and I wanted to make sure it was thoroughly cooked before I shot out of the house). The top, sides, and bottom were evenly brown, the cake moist and eggy and tasting marvelously of honey. I'd definitely make this again!

A couple things I did that were different from SuzySushi's recipe but seemed to work out well: First, I put a cookie sheet both under and on top of the pan; this really helped the cake to cook quickly and evenly. Warning: lightly grease the top pan so that the cake doesn't stick to it! Don't ask me how I know this.

Second, I used a Korean all-purpose white wheat flour that is a lot lighter than American all-purpose, since I've found that it's closer to what's used in Chinese noodle recipes. It has a polar bear logo and green printing; since I don't read Korean, that's all I can tell you about what I used! However, if you can't find it in spite of this excellent and detailed description, a close approximation is 6 parts pastry flour to 1 part all-purpose.

Next up: Kuma's recipe and a visit to the local muumuu shop.
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#17 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 04:46 PM

New improved castella:

Posted Image

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I used Ong's recipe, but substituted 24% milk for the 12%oil. I beat the eggs and sugar on low speed for 15 minutes to keep the bubbles small and the batter runny. After I poured the batter into the pan, I tapped the pan on the counter, which burst some top bubbles, then ran a spatula through the batter like on the video, then tapped the pan again to burst the new bubbles that rose up. Then covered when the top was brown. I inverted the cake pan after I took it out of the oven, because I feared collapse. This is what I got. Definately tighter crumb. A little rubbery--I bet that is why Ong used the oil.

#18 Kuma

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 04:55 PM

Warning: lightly grease the top pan so that the cake doesn't stick to it! Don't ask me how I know this.

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:laugh: I can guess...

#19 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 10:32 PM

One more question--Does everyone turn your cake upside down when you take it out of the oven, as it cools, to keep it from falling in the center? Or is that not a problem for you all?

#20 C J Phillips

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 11:03 AM

I know that you're supposed to do that, but I didn't yesterday, and the cake turned out just fine. I'm just a rebel, I guess.
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#21 shinju

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 08:36 PM

One of the key issue is to cover the cake once it bakes in a plastic for at least 1 night - 12 hours.

I'm not sure about the use of milk or oil in kasutera. If milk is used, it should be very minimal. Of the ones being posted by non kasutera makers, I see half use milk and others not. Some do use a bit water, honey, or something similar. The two being posted by kasutera shops, they do not use oil or milk.

I have one in mind for trying, and will let you know how mine comes out.

Edited by shinju, 07 August 2008 - 08:56 PM.


#22 shinju

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 08:41 PM

BTW, Mary Elizabeth, the dark areas are much more uniform now. The first ones were a lot darker on top that extended inwards than the sides or bottom.

#23 sanrensho

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 09:56 PM

I am thinking of trying this recipe, while I still have some Bunmeido castella in the fridge to compare:

http://braunsato.blo...-entry-270.html

Just eggs, flour, granulated sugar, mizuame and zarame (coarse sugar). I may substitute the mizuame for honey.

Castella, at least the traditional kind, should have no oil, milk or leaveners. Having said that, I've had a lot of cheap, sub-par castella sold at bakeries and supermarkets. Those may have used some of the above ingredients.
Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#24 shinju

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 10:03 PM

I am thinking of trying this recipe, while I still have some Bunmeido castella in the fridge to compare:

http://braunsato.blo...-entry-270.html

Just eggs, flour, granulated sugar, mizuame and zarame (coarse sugar). I may substitute the mizuame for honey.

Castella, at least the traditional kind, should have no oil, milk or leaveners. Having said that, I've had a lot of cheap, sub-par castella sold at bakeries and supermarkets. Those may have used some of the above ingredients.

View Post


Oh, good, please try it and let us know so that perhaps we can make the perfect kasutera. I have one baking as we speak and will post the results tomorrow after it sits in the plastic overnight.

#25 shinju

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 10:14 PM

I am thinking of trying this recipe, while I still have some Bunmeido castella in the fridge to compare:

http://braunsato.blo...-entry-270.html

Just eggs, flour, granulated sugar, mizuame and zarame (coarse sugar). I may substitute the mizuame for honey.

Castella, at least the traditional kind, should have no oil, milk or leaveners. Having said that, I've had a lot of cheap, sub-par castella sold at bakeries and supermarkets. Those may have used some of the above ingredients.

View Post


I looked at this recipe and it's quite similar to the one I'm testing tonight. Mine uses 4 eggs, 100 gram soft flour, 110 gram sugar, 2 T honey, and 1 1/2 T warm water. This ones does not separate the eggs, but whip for 5 minutes and and add honey and water. Combine flour in thirds mixing.

Temperature originally at 180 degrees for first 7 minutes. Remove and cover with pan, reduce to 170 degrees for for 35 to 40 minutes.

After removing from pan with cookie sheets, cover completely with plastic wrap and plastic for 12 hours.

We will see how this ones goes. I'm using a square pan lined with baking sheets.

Edited by shinju, 07 August 2008 - 10:19 PM.


#26 sanrensho

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 11:44 PM

BTW, Bunmeido had a seasonal Yogurt Castella on sale (680 yen for 1/2 block size) when I went through Narita Airport.

I stupidly held back on buying, but will ask my wife to pick one up in a few weeks.

Gratuitous Youtube link:

80s version:

Edited by sanrensho, 08 August 2008 - 12:00 AM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#27 jumanggy

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 01:30 AM

I was wondering how I got here via Google and not the P&B Forum index, hahaha! Found the topic too late, though-- I already made Pichet Ong's Honey Castella. It should make an appearance soon on the Desserts thread. The top of mine didn't brown as dark as the examples here (or Ong's book), but it was still spectacular. The crumb was too open based on the replies here, but it's my first ever taste of Castella, so I didn't mind. That is the fastest that a cake has disappeared in this household.

The reason I was drawn to the castella recipe first (I just received the book) was because of this entry at Cake Chef:
http://www.cakechef....tte1/index.html
If you backtrack to the opening page, the crumb is very dense and the top's very dark-- very appealing indeed. Unfortunately, the recipe called for invert sugar, to which I don't have access (whaddya think? Use corn syrup?). If you watch the movie at the site, he doesn't whip it to a thick ribbon either (Ong's recipe is very thick-- beat it using a hand mixer for 10 minutes over heat, then 6 minutes-- I didn't think it could get any thicker as a whole-egg meringue). Neither does he disturb it while in the oven, I think. There's a step that I can't understand, even with Google Translate-- the step before it goes in the oven.
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#28 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 10:55 AM

Hello jumanggy! Thank you for the link to that great site. I loved the overhead, step by step photos. Can anyone tell me what those 7 ingredients are that are listed at the top of the page?

sanrensho--very cute videos! Thanks!

Edited by Mary Elizabeth, 08 August 2008 - 10:58 AM.


#29 jumanggy

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 11:15 AM

No problem :smile:
400g Whole eggs
280g Sugar
240g Flour
280g Butter (It's translated to "butter fermentation." Er...)
80g Honey
40g Invert sugar
28g Baking powder (!)
The sequence is almost the same-- sweeteners and baking powder in eggs, beat over a flame until 40°C. Whip until thick and pale. Fold in flour, then the butter that has been melted and cooled to 60°C. I'm not sure if there's a step before baking. (Er... It's not like they freeze it or anything like that, right?) Bake at 180°C for 35-40 minutes. Cool inverted? Dunno.

Edited by jumanggy, 08 August 2008 - 11:15 AM.

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#30 sanrensho

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 12:11 PM

No problem :smile:
400g Whole eggs
280g Sugar
240g Flour
280g Butter (It's translated to "butter fermentation." Er...)
80g Honey
40g Invert sugar
28g Baking powder (!)
The sequence is almost the same-- sweeteners and baking powder in eggs, beat over a flame until 40°C. Whip until thick and pale. Fold in flour, then the butter that has been melted and cooled to 60°C. I'm not sure if there's a step before baking. (Er... It's not like they freeze it or anything like that, right?) Bake at 180°C for 35-40 minutes. Cool inverted? Dunno.

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I've made the Butter Castella recipe before. It was good, but nothing like the dense texture of Bunmeido castella. Of course, it could have been my technique.

Couple of notes:

1. The recipe calls for "hakko butter" or cultured butter. This is of course a twist on traditional castella (traditionally no added fats).

2. There is no extra step (before putting in the oven) described in the video or text. Note that one of the Bunmeido sites shows the baker carefully stirring bubbles out of the batter before it goes into the oven, but the CakeChef photo seems to show a decently dense crumb.

3. It does say to invert to cool. You can see it flipped over in the last photo.

I'll add one more tasting note about Bunmeido castella (based on memory, the cakes I have in the fridge are the "maki" type). The Bunmeido process uses coarse sugar mixed into the batter at the very end. If I recall correctly, some of this settles into the bottom skin.

Now on foam and genoise cakes, the skin generally just doesn't taste that great and is a good reason to trim cakes, in addition to the need for leveling. However, the coarse sugar makes the skin on the Bunmeido cakes taste really good. In fact, I usually take a knife and scrape off the "skin" that is stuck to the parchment paper on Bunmeido castella and eat it, it is that good.

Mary, you're welcome for the videos, now I have that jingle permanently stuck in my head. :wink:

Edited by sanrensho, 08 August 2008 - 02:32 PM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...





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