It’s hard to believe how fast 2012 is moving along already isn’t it? Before you know it we’ll have knocked over one-sixth of the year! One fun way to count down the months has been the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop which has been running now for four months. This month’s hop is hosted by Nic of Dining With A Stud who suggested a timely theme of ‘Love At First Bite’ to commemorate Valentines Day.
For the actual day, I baked up a batch of lovely little cookies (Heart Love Cookies) which used up some of the egg yolk that I was lumped with through two failed macaron attempts (boo to humidity). Those cookies were a homage to my little girl’s ‘heart love’ as I explained in the post :) For the Blog Hop, I thought long and hard about what instilled me with gushy love at first bite and came up with a Japanese tea time favourite: Castella (or Kasutera).
There are lengthy explanations at both Wikipedia and Just Hungry about exactly how Kasutera came to be and what it is but in short, it’s a rich sponge cake (not unlike a Madeira cake) that has its origin in Pão de Castela (bread of Castile) which was introduced to Japan centuries ago by Portuguese merchants. It is primarily flavoured with honey and other than egg yolk, does not require any added fat such as butter or olive oil to make it moist and delectable. Almost healthy! Bunmeido is a famous maker of Kasutera (since 1900) and receiving a gift tin of their rich flavoursome cake is a true treat indeed.
I remember eating Kasutera as a small child living in Japan and just thinking about it fills me with heartwarming memories. It’s a style of cake that I don’t come across too much in Australia sadly, although Utopia makes a similar version of the cake but oil based (a lot of Asian style cakes contain vegetable oils for moisture).
Maki at Just Hungry notes that Kasutera isn’t often baked at home since it’s so easy to get hold of in Japan but since it’s the one item even J-List can’t deliver me from Japan, I chose to make some for the hop. In keeping with the theme of lurve, I decided to make a strawberry flavoured Kasutera (who can resist a pretty pink cake?). Strawberries are also very popular on Valentines Day in Japan.
I have mainly followed the recipe given at Just Hungry but adapted it for the Thermomix as follows. It’s not a hard cake to make but you need to read through the recipe thoroughly so as to not miss a step (I nearly missed the honey glaze). Kasutera is lovely on its own but I served some up with sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit :)
Strawberry Castella (Kasutera)
Note – ingredients were halved from original recipe to make a smaller cake. If you do not have a Thermomix, please refer to original recipe for instructions except baking time should be as given below.
4 large eggs
150g raw sugar (preferred), or use regular granulated sugar, plus a little extra sugar for sprinkling
100g (7 oz) all-purpose or bread flour (not cake flour)
100g strawberries, washed and trimmed
enough milk to make up 1/2 cup of liquid with strawberry puree
1 tsp skim milk powder if desired
2 tbsp honey, plus one extra tbsp for the top
To Make: Pre-heat oven to 170C. Add strawberries to TMX bowl and puree on Speed 8 for 20 seconds. Sieve the puree to remove seeds and set aside in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make up to 1/2 cups of liquid. If you feel there is not enough milk, add the skim milk powder for a milkier cake. Add honey to liquid and combine with spoon. Wash and dry TMX bowl and add eggs and sugar. Insert Butterfly and cook on 50C Speed 3 for about 4 minutes until mixture is pale and frothy and ‘holds’.
Slowly add flour (by the tablespoon) to the mixture while TMX is running with the Butterfly on Speed 3. Once cake mix is well combined, transfer to a medium loaf pan which has been lined with baking paper and sprinkled with sugar on the bottom. Pour in cake mix and leave enough room for rising. Excess cake mix can be put into smaller muffin pans and baked for less time (see explanation in original recipe).
Bake cake for 35 minutes and test with skewer. Mine needed 40 minutes possibly because of the fruit puree. Once done, remove cake and coat the top with the honey glaze (honey mixed with some hot water). When cool enough to touch, remove cake with paper and place into a clean plastic bag (I used a regular shopping bag. Tie securely and allow to cool in fridge for a couple of hours. When ready to serve, remove from fridge allow to reach room temperature. Cut sides of cake off and cut into 1.5/2 cm slices.
(If you can’t see the Blog Hop list, please click through here)