Japanese Honey Sponge Cake (Castella)

----Ingredients----

  • 2 tablespoons Warm water
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin
  • 70g Honey
  • 180g Bread Flour
  • 180g Caster Suger
  • 5 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Egg Yolks, at room temperature
  • 30g Unsalted Butter, melted
  • [optional] Sugar Crystals

----Equipments----

  • Oven
  • Mixer (stand or hand held)
  • Loaf pan
  • Skewer

 

----Instructions----

1. Preheat oven to 410℉. If you are using uncovered loaf pan ,then preheat to 320℉/160℃.

2. Mix well warm water, mirin and honey. Put aside for further use. Mirin is a kind of sweet Japanese rice cooking wine. It can remove the smell of eggs and be substituted by any other sweet wine.

3. Sift the bread flour with sifter or fine-meshed strainer. Put sifted flour aside for further use.

4. Beat eggs and egg yolks with caster sugar at high speed for 6-8 minutes. At the end, the volume will increase about 4 times and the egg mixture will be thick in pale yellow color. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture will fall in ribbons.

5. Add the honey mixture into beaten eggs, and then beat for another minute at middle speed.

6. Add bread flour gradually into egg mixture at three separate times: add ⅓ flour into egg mixture, mix for about 20 seconds at low speed, then add another ⅓ flour, mix another 20 seconds, at last, add the remaining floor and mix the last 20 seconds.

7. Add the melted butter into batter. And then mix well for about 15 seconds at low speed.

8. If you are not using a nonstick baking pan, cover the inside of the pan with parchment paper. If you are using a nonstick pan, then skip this step.

9. Sprinkle some sugar crystals at the bottom of the baking pan. It will form a layer of crisp caramel when baked well. And it will add more sweet taste to the cake and make it better for coffee and tea. This step is optional according to personal taste.

10. Pour batter into the pan (about 80% full).

11. Use a skewer to draw zigzag lines in the batter to remove air bubbles.

12. Hold the pan about 2-inches above the counter and drop it flat onto counter top. Do this several times to release air bubbles.

13. Put the baking pan on the centre shelf of the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes until the surface is golden brown. The batter will rise a little just at the top of the pan.

If you are using uncovered loaf pan, then bake 35-45 minutes.

14. Carefully add the lid of the baking pan when the surface is golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 320℉. Bake for 30-40 minutes when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

15.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter top. Take out the loaf pan from the oven and then take out the cake from the pan to the plastic wrap.

16. Wrap the cake with plastic wrap with the cake top facing down.

17. Keep the cake at room temperature overnight (at least 12 hours). If it is in hot weather, then keep the cake in the refrigerator.

18. To serve, slice off the sides of the cake with bread knife and cut into ¾-inch slices. You can tell how bouncy it is!

19. It's better if you bring the cake to room temperature before serving. To save for later, wrap individual pieces with plastic wrap and freeze up to a month or keep in fridge up to 5 days.

 

----Notes----

1. Flour should be sifted before use. Sifted flour is easier to combine, thus to reduce the formation of gluten, which will make cake hard.

2. Eggs should be taken out from the refrigerator in advance and get back to room temperature when whisked.  If you forget to take them out in advance, you can soak them in hot water for a while.

3. The two more egg yolks can make the cake has golden yellow color, and rich egg incense.

4. It should be noted to use caster sugar instead of granulated sugar because caster sugar can hold more water and make cake moister.

5. it is important to remember that don't overmix the flour. However, do not be afraid to whisk the batter. It's better to have hard cake than cracked cake.

6. Note that the Castella is made of high-gluten/bread flour. That's why it's particularly bouncy!

7. The plastic wrap can help to lock the moisture in the cake. It is important to wrap the cake ASAP!

I really like the skin of the cake. Sometimes I do not even want to cut them off!

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