Castella cake

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Castella:

these cakes the size of toddler beds and when the knife goes in, the cake kinda goes wubba wubba wubba. Wubba wubba wubba. It is transfixing. I had to have one, and the only way was gonna happen is if I baked it myself, so here’s my recipe. It’s really just a simple sponge cake, called “Castella.” Portuguese traders introduced it to Japan in the 16th century.

As near as I can tell, the more popular version in Japan these days has cheese in it. This does not. This version seems to be more associated with Taiwan. It’s just a simple egg sponge baked on the scale of a toddler bed. The first thing you’ll need is a cake pan, and then you’ll need a bigger one, ’cause we’re gonna bake this in a water bath. That right there could work, but the castella cake would not go wubba wubba very much when you cut it — too much rigid surface relative to its pudding-like inner mass. The pan’s just too small — too short, especially.

INGREDIENTS

  • large eggs 
  • 200 g sugar (1 cup)
  • 200 g bread flour 
  • 80 ml honey 
  • 2 ½ Tbsp water 
  •  

I wanna bake in this tall-sided pan that I’ve got. Those walls are three inches, almost 8 centimeters, so what can I put this inside? My big roasting tray where I do my Thanksgiving turkey. Just barely fits. Use whatever pans you’ve got. You could probably use those big disposable aluminum ones if you wanted.

I worked out a simple formula for calibrating the recipe to any pan’s dimensions. It’s in the description. Math is your friend. Now I’m gonna pour some water in here. Doesn’t have to be hot yet. We’re just testing to see how much the inner pan is gonna displace. It looks to me like those jiggly cake bakeries in Taiwan and such use steam injection ovens. The best way to simulate that at home is by baking in a water bath. You’ll see what it does. Hah, the inner pan is floating. I’ll push it down a little, but honestly, it’ll probably still float with the batter in it.

This cake is mostly air. The water does not have to come all the way up the sides. Now the inner pan can come out, and I’ll load that into the oven. Rather than trying to pour hot water into the oven later, we can just let that heat up with the oven. I baked a dozen of these damn cake in a weekend and found 325 F to be the winning temperature in my oven. That’s 160 C. And I’m not using my convection fan. I find the fan makes the top of the cake crack. Now you’re gonna need a huge bowl and another huge bowl. Time for the batter, and when I studied all the Castella recipes..make whipped cream.

I could find, it became obvious that the varying ingredient quantities I observed all kinda orbit around the same, simple, whole number proportions. I think this must have been the mother recipe. It’s by weight. 4 parts eggs to 1 part fat, 1 part milk, 1 part flour, and 1 part sugar. I’m not saying all the recipes do that, but they all seem to be doing slight variations of that, and I think it’s a great place to start. My pan is 432 square inches, so according to my little formula, we’re gonna need 20 eggs. Yes, 20.

The mass of this cake is literally half egg, and we need to separate the whites from the yolk. I normally do that bypassing the yolk between the two sides of the shell but in every one of these jiggly cake videos from the bakeries I see people unloading all the eggs whole into a big bowl, and then going in with their hands to separate out the yolks. You can just kinda pass it between your hands and eventually, the white will slither out between your fingers. Put the yolk into the other giant bowl.

Castella cake
Castella cake

This works, but here’s the catch. If you rupture one, and I mean just one of these yolks and some of the yellow leaks down into the bowl with all the whites, you will have just wasted all of these eggs. We need to beat the whites, and their proteins won’t foam up of there’s any fat in the bowl. The yolk has a ton of fat. I do not understand why the manager of a Castella bakery would trust their employees with this procedure.

I would totally have them separate the eggs one at a time in a separate bowl, keeping each white quarantined until it’s clean. Gah, I burst one! Get it away, get it away! Whew, I’m sweating. Luckily that’s not a problem thanks to the sponsor of this video, Native Deodorant, whom I’ll now briefly thank. It sounds kinda funny, but if a chef were to make deodorant, I’m pretty sure Native is what they’d come up with. Look at these scents: Coconut and vanilla, herbal citrus, cucumber mint — that one’s my favorite, for sure.

I love cucumber in just about anything. My wife has been on me about switching to an aluminum-free deodorant for a long time. Aluminum salts plug up your pores — that’s how they work, but that has caused me some problems that I won’t describe in detail in a food video. That’s a little joke for all you history buffs. Anyway, Lauren’s used Native for years. The scents are super classy. They sorta remind me of cocktails — in a good way, especially that citrus one. Tons of scents to choose from and they last all day long, even in a hot kitchen. Now, we’ve got 20 eggs separated. If we look at our mother’s proportions, we can calculate how much we need of everything else.

A typical large chicken egg minus its shell weighs about 50 grams. 50 x 20 eggs is a kilo, 1,000 grams of eggs. All the other ingredients should weigh 1/4 of that, right? So we need 250 grams of fat in the yolks. Some people apparently use melted butter. That’d have a nice flavor, but vegetable oil will get you a softer texture, and I think this castella cake is entirely about the texture. Oil is what I see the pros using in the videos.

Time for the milk. 250 grams of milk. Now for 250 of flour. All-purpose flour would probably be fine, but most people seem to use cake flour, and I think that makes sense. Cakes built on egg foams can sometimes be a little tough, so it makes sense to use a softer flour. Now, there are some small additions that are not covered by the macro formula. A lot of recipes call for a little cornstarch, and I think it’s good.

It makes the interior crumb of the castella cake finer, more pudding-like. I’d use like a tenth of the weight of your flour, so I put in 25 grams. A giant glug of vanilla. Though, the easiest way to play with different flavors here would be to put in different extracts. Maybe do some orange extract plus some orange food coloring. Whatever. And then salt. I would do like a heaped teaspoon for this much. That apparently works out half a gram of salt per egg, if you want to know.

The last thing we need to measure is our sugar into a separate bowl. And this is where I deviate from the mother formula a bit. I’ve gotten a glossier top on the cake when I use a little more than 1 part sugar. What is that, 270 grams? OK, I lied, one more thing to measure — a little cream of tartar into the egg whites. Acids make egg foams more elastic, and thus more able to mix with other ingredients without deflating.

Some people say it’s 1/4 teaspoon for every four egg whites, some people say it’s twice that. I don’t need to be exact. And you don’t have to use the cream of tarter. A lot of people use a little lemon juice or white vinegar instead.

Then we’ll just beat this up into a foam. Not in a million years would I make this castella cake without some kind of electric mixer. Took about 5 minutes to get it that fluffy. We don’t have stiff peaks or anything yet. That’s fine. We’re not done yet. In goes like half the sugar, and we’ll beat this until it goes noticeably firmer and glossier. Some people mix the sugar in with the whites from the start, but that can keep your foam from ever forming. It’s safer to mix in the sugar gradually at the end.

The sugar will significantly strengthen the foam at this stage — make it way firmer. You can see now I’ve got like medium peaks — peaks that flop over. When I’ve taken it all the way to stiff peaks with the sugar in it, I’ve gotten cakes that puff up more in the oven, but the top cracks more, if that matters to you.

Now we just go right into all the other ingredients. Just blast it with the mixer until it’s really smooth. Some people apparently sift all their dry ingredients into the bowl — I see no point. The mixer is gonna smooth

Castella cake
Castella cake

everything out. Don’t worry, you’re not gonna develop the gluten and make the castella cake tough. We’re using cake flour and there’s hardly even any of it in there. The structural matrix of this cake is egg, not wheat. Now I’m just gonna start stirring in my meringue. It’s easier if you do it in a couple installments. You might have it in your head that you need to gently fold in the egg foam lest you deflate it. But you’d never be able to get a homogenous mixture here through folding.

There’s just too much meringue. It’s more meringue now than cake — twisted and evil. I’m just mixing that until I don’t see any streaks of yellow anymore. I’ve seen people in the Taiwanese bakeries straight-up whip these together in the stand mixer, and their cakes still come out like pillows. The only reason I’m using a spatula is that I’d have to totally submerge my hand mixer to keep using it in here. Alright, time for the pan, and you’ve gotta line your pan in parchment paper. Sponge cakes are both sticky and delicate — a deadly combination when it comes to extracting something from a pan.

How you line yours will depend on the dimensions of your castella cake and your roll of parchment. But I’ve got a couple of little strips for the two sides and one big one down the middle with enough excess on either side that I can use it as a sling later to lift the cake out.

Don’t worry if things are collapsing or not lying flat — the weight of the batter will hold everything down. This batter came out particularly thin. I think that has more to do with how stiff I beat the meringue as opposed to any of the other ingredient proportions. But I definitely find I get a smoother, more attractive top with a thinner batter. There, look, I don’t even need smooth that out with the spatula. In this goes to the water bath, and you’ll probably have to just drop the pan in, which will result in a little splash, but that’s fine. An initial burst of steam in the oven will probably be good for the cake.

You bake a castella cake in a water bath for two reasons. One is to create a steam environment in there that will keep the top from setting up hard and restricting the upward expansion of the cake. The other reason for the water bath is to keep the sides of the cake from overcooking. Water can get no hotter than its boiling points, and 212 F or 100 C is well below the temperature needed to brown anything. The water will keep the sides of the cake pan relatively cool. A smaller Castella might need an hour.

This needed an hour and a half before it looked ready to test by poking it with a skewer. Nope, still too wet on the inside — look at the crumbs clinging to the skewer. If you’re afraid your top is gonna burn before the inside is done, you can always just turn down the heat. Or turn it up if the top isn’t browning fast enough. Like 10 minutes later, there we are — skewer comes out clean. Time to lift this out, and I see no reason to unload a giant pan of hot water right now. I’d say just turn off the oven and come back for it when it’s cool. In the bakery videos, they turn the cakes out by inverting them onto a big cutting board.

But ours is only the size of a couch cushion, not a toddler bed, so we can simply grab the ends of the big parchment piece and sling the cake out without folding it over on itself and breaking it or anything. We can pull all the paper off now. If we didn’t bake it in the water bath they’d be very brown. Come on, man, look at that — it just looks like the airplane seat that you can use as a

Castella cake
Castella cake

floatation device in the unlikely event of a water landing. Look at it jiggle! Time for the big moment, and you’ll want the longest knife you have. They have these crazy-long ones at the bakeries. That whoops right there — that’s what happens when you don’t have a long enough knife. So obviously it looks awesome, and it feels awesome — but does it taste awesome? Honestly, when you eat it while it’s still very warm, I think it kinda tastes like farts. Remember, it’s half egg, and eggs have sulfur in them. That taste really does go away, though, as the cake cools.

I don’t know if that’s the sulfur off-gassing or breaking down or what, but the cooled cake does taste nice. I do think this is mostly about the novelty value of making something so springy and pillowy. How much of that is air? Well, I can show you precisely how much. Those hydraulic press videos are my second-favorite sub-genre of oddly satisfying YouTube videos, the first of course being jiggly cake cutting. You can make this taste more interesting by putting in different flavorings, or some chunks, like chocolate chips. People do that, maybe we’ll try that another time, but for now, let’s just revel in this simple pleasure — wubba wubba wubba. Wubba wubba wubba. Wubba.

with chocolate touch:

Prepare an 8-inch square cake tin Put in Linoleum Bake Mat Oil Paper, the corners with clips to prevent them from falling off, set aside Preheat oven upper heat 165°C, lower heat 175°C Prepare 8 eggs Carefully separate the egg whites and yolks per egg about 60g Sift Cake flour, cornstarch unsweetened cocoa powder corn starch is used to reduce gluten Increase the softness of the cake Corn oil, microwaved for 1 minute 30 seconds, heated to about 90 degrees Other lighter oils such as canola oil can also be substituted Pour it into the flour immediately and mix well with a whisk Add 50�rk chocolate chips If the chocolate is bigger, it needs to be chopped Stir gently and wait for 2-3 minutes to completely melt Add milk immediately and mix well It is normal for oil-water separation to occur Then add 8 egg yolks and mix well Add fresh milk and mix well You need to add fresh milk according to the flour absorb.

Because different brands of cocoa powder have a large water absorption Add about 10 grams each time for adjustment Total recipe is 100g fresh milk Lemon juice and salt are added to the egg whites It also makes the protein more detailed There should be no oil and water in the egg bowl to avoid affecting egg whites The key to the success of this Castella cake is egg whites Poorly beat it is unstable and prone to expansion and retraction over beat it is easy to dry and crack Lift the beater and bend the rear end Add egg yolks to batter Add in the egg beater for the first time and mix well Back into the egg white After that, use the spatula to mix from bottom to top Add chocolate chips and mix well After stirring well, pour into the mold Pour into the cake tin about 10cm high And then finally the batter will stack up like this It is

Castella cake
Castella cake

proved that the stirring technique is correct without defoaming Evenly distributed to four corners Add chocolate chips on the surface If you don’t want the surface to crack, you don’t need to add chocolate chips Because the chocolate grains will sink down due to gravity And the cake goes up, it is easy to cause cracked surface Add 70 degrees warm water to the baking tray under the Castella cake.

tin Bake at up 155 ° c and down 165 ° c for 65 minutes When out of the oven, carefully press your finger on the surface of the Castella cake to check If there are significant dents, bake for another 5 to 10 minutes It’s normal to retract a little after it’s released Ripping the baking paper around This cake has been cool for a while The degree of retraction is about Push back and forth with a long knife Chocolate flavor is very strong and very soft There are chocolates, which are very tasty ⋯⋯

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