Matcha Castella

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Written by Rae

We went to Bangsan Market, the baking market here in Seoul, and I saw a wooden castella mold.  How cool to bake something in a wooden mold, I thought.  I was immediately attracted.  The first thing that came to mind was a fluffy green tea cake, which is exactly what I set out to make.

I wasn’t sure the history of castella cakes, and was curious because although they come from Japan, the name didn’t sound Japanese at all.  I don’t think I had ever even tried one before.  I just know they are quite popular here in Korea, and were brought here by the Japanese.  Turns out castella cakes were originally brought to Japan from Portugal, but the Japanese have modified it a little bit to their taste.  They have also perfected the baking.  Castellas are made with bread flour, which give them a chewy and bouncy texture.  They also have a few tablespoons of honey in them, which is the predominant flavor throughout the cake.  Therefore, it can be called a honey cake.

I wasn’t able to use my wooden mold for my green tea castella, because I had to wash and dry it before, so I used a loaf pan. It didn’t matter because the cake turned out great . . . especially the marbling.  I followed some tips for making castella, which was to bang the tray a lot and get all the air-bubbles out.  I did this before and AFTER baking, so the cake didn’t invert and sink.  I also inverted the cake for a few minutes on the top after it was done baking, in order to have a smooth top.

The recipe that I used can be found here.  Although, I did change a few things.  I changed the way I marbled the cake, which is that I spread layers of green tea castella batter throughout the pan, rather than dropping 4T of yellow castella and 1 T of green tea.  I also added 1 T of matcha, rather than 1/2 T.  I also reduced the sugar by 20 g or so.

The cake turned out wonderful, and it didn’t sink at all!  I was so happy because sinking is a common problem when making castella.  The taste was light and matcha-y.  It was slightly sweet.  It was bouncy and beautiful.  I am really proud of my first castella!

Ingredients:

5 Eggs separated (total weight 270-280g), at room temperature

120g Sugar (I used 100 g)

100g Bread flour – sifted

2 tbsp Honey diluted with 2 tbsp hot water

1/2 tbsp Matcha powder diluted with 2 tbsp hot water (I used 1 T)

Method:
  • To use the wooden mould, put it on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil as the mould has no bottom, then line the inside with another baking sheet.
  • Place egg whites in mixing bowl and beat at high speed (I’m using Kenwood) until foamy. Add sugar in 2 to 3 increments until firm peaks form.
  • Add yolks one at a time at medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add sifted bread flour and beat until just combined.
  • Pour in honey mixture and continue to beat for 1 minute.
  • Pour batter through a sieve into a large bowl and measure 120g plain batter into a smaller bowl and mix in the matcha mixture, blend well.
  • Spoon 4 heapful tablespoons of the plain batter into the middle of the mould then 1 tablespoon of the matcha batter on top. Continue alternately the batter until you finish them.
  • Slightly shake the mould together with the baking tray a little and use a skewer to drag into the batter from inside out to form the spider web pattern.
  • Bake at preheated at 160C for about 55 mins or skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Drop the cake together with baking tray from a one foot height onto the counter top to prevent shrinkage.
  • When the cake is cool enough to handle, lift up the wooden mould from the cake. Peel off parchment paper and place onto a fresh piece of parchment paper. (I did not turn the cake upside down).
  • Wrap the cake with plastic wrap while it is still warm and leave overnight in the refrigerator to preserve moisture in the cake and flavour to develop.
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