Baking

Strawberry Castella (Kasutera)

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.

Strawberry Castella

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).

SABH - Love At First Bite

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.

Strawberry Castella

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.

Strawberry Castella

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)

 

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Miss Kimbers @ Fruit Salad and Mixed Veg

    February 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Wow this looks so yummy. I have never heard of a Kasutera before but I want to try it:)

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks! I have to say the strawberry version was fun but the classic honey flavoured, plain Castella is hard to beat. Next time :)

  2. Lizzy (Good Things)

    February 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Hiya, this looks and sounds delicious!

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Hey :) Thanks! I enjoyed scoffing it lol

  3. Nic@diningwithastud

    February 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I’ve never heard of Castella. It looks so wonderfully moist and delicious! Almost healthy ;) haha. Thanks for joining the hop :)

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks for hosting. Much fun as always! Castella is so Japanese in spite of being a cake/baked product :)

  4. Tenille @ My Family Table

    February 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    This sounds absolutely lovely, no wonder you have fond memories. I might make this for my daughter; she adores strawberries.

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you. The strawberry wasn’t a pronounced flavour but I didn’t have overly juicy, flavoursome berries this time :( Look out for ripe and red berries.

  5. JJ @ 84thand3rd

    February 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Yum! How lovely and simple, and I have a soft spot for desserts that invoke memories of childhood. Thanks for sharing!

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks JJ. I think it’s that simplicity that appeals to the Japanese and hence this cake being an enduring favourite :)

  6. Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    February 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

    What a pretty cake – I love the pink color!

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks! I’m hoping to make it again for my little one’s birthday. Of course her cake has to be pink!

  7. Julia {The Roasted Root}

    February 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    These treats look moist and flavorful! I would definitely be eating my portion with whipped cream and berries! Awesome!

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks :) I rather enjoyed it :D

  8. Jennifer (Delicieux)

    February 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve never heard of Kasutera, thanks for introducing me. Your strawberry version looks divine.

    • Monica

      February 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Thank you :) It’s a Western sweet but somehow quintessentially Japanese.

  9. Nic

    February 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Yum! Looks good. I’m not a huge fan of cake, because I normally find it too dry, but this one looks like it is anything but dry, and another great way to use a few eggs!

    • Monica

      February 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Thanks! Oh I think we all don’t think much of cake when they are dry! I think the eggs help greatly along with the honey in Castella.

  10. Christina @ The Hungry Australian

    February 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Oh yum – I love the sound of this cake. Gorgeous flavours and strawberries are so perfect right now. Lovely!

    • Monica

      February 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Thanks Christina :) It’s hard to beat strawberries in summer although they’ve been a bit hit/miss in WA this year :((

  11. Michelle

    February 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I love the combination of the Japanese cake with strawberries. I lived in Japan 10 years ago and your most made me feel “natsukashiii”

    • Monica

      February 27, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Thank you :) I wish I had those plump Japanese strawberries to work with! Ahh to be able to visit Tokyo again…

  12. tasteofbeirut

    August 2, 2013 at 5:44 am

    I was just telling my friend who is a pastry chef, trained in Paris, of kasutera, and she had never heard of it! I made it twice and love it, it is a challenging cake; this version sounds wonderful, I cant wait to try it and if it is a success will post about it and of course link to the source. Love the idea of flavoring it with strawberry, I had tried it with grape molasses, which was OK but not exciting.

    • Moni

      August 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Oh great! I really love Kasutera and while the strawberry version was lovely, I do like the original :) I think it would work nicely with green tea or Japanese black sugar which I might try later this year. Thanks for visiting :)

  13. nosh_cyclist

    November 5, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Hello, I’d like to try this recipe but isn’t it missing one step? At one point do you add the strawberry puree to the mixture?

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