In the 1540s, toward the end of Muromachi period, along with Christianity, the Portuguese ‘introduced’ Japanese to numerous delicious items, such as tempura, pumpkin (kabocha), pão de Castela (bread from Castile/Spain) and not so delicious, tobacco and firearms. As for tempura and pão de Castela, evolve they did… neither looked nor were made anything like how they were initially introduced. We all know how Japanese are brilliant in taking things, further improving them and actually producing and selling in more volume than the countries where they originated. Evolved pão de Castela, which is called Kasutera カステラ (Castella) in Japan, is one of the most sought after and confections especially sold for auspicious events. All over Japan, there are stores which sell nothing but Ká.sú.té.rá.
Although some have expressed/written about how difficult Kasutera is to make/bake, I have not experienced any difficulty. Some have given instructions to bake it in cardboard/wooden boxes which is not necessary. Success in baking Kasutera is achieved by creating a flat, smooth, evenly browned, top surface and smallest bubble-sized sponge. The Kasutera seen in the right photo was baked in a specially built, commercial oven with shelves that sway/shake in the oven (like a mini earthquake) while baking. To bake one almost like those commercially baked, the key is in the egg-beating and carefully following each method step before proceeding.
Castella • Kasutera • カステラ
• 6 large whole eggs + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature – whites/yolks separated
• 180 gr (¾ cup + 1 Tbsp) sugar – caster sugar preferred 
• 150 gr (1 cup + 3 Tbsp) bread flour sifted twice
…………….(all-purpose unbleached flour also works with softer texture)
• 3 Tbsp honey dissolved in 3 Tbsp hot water, and cooled
 If caster sugar is not sold in your neighborhood, grind same amount of granulated sugar in a food processor for 3~5 minutes.
◊ Prepare equipment needed. One-pound bread pan works perfectly but I used a 22cmX22cmX5cm (8.5″x8.5″x2″) baking pan, sprayed with non-stick spray or greased and lined with parchment paper (as shown in the photos). Also needed is a large sieve which can be used for sifting the flour and straining the batter.
◊ Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 160°C/320°F.
◊ First, using standing mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg-whites on high speed
until bubbles form. Gradually sprinkle half of the sugar (90 gr), 1 Tbsp at a time, beat
until firm (not stiff), occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl if needed.
Put the bowl with meringue in refrigerator.
◊ Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat egg-yolks with other half of the sugar (90 gr), until foamy and creamy.
◊ Take the meringue out of the refrigerator, using a balloon whisk, in three parts, trying not to destroy the egg-white foam, fold in yolk mixture into egg-whites, until combined.
◊ In 3 to 4 batches, sprinkle flour into the egg mixture while folding in the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl.
◊ In 3 batches, pour in the dissolved honey and fold in the batter.
◊ Empty batter into the sieve over a bowl. Use a silicone spatula to push the batter though the sieve if needed. (This may be done directly over the prepared baking pan but it may cause a mess.)
◊ Pour strained batter into the baking pan slowly.
◊ Tap the baking pan onto the counter as many times until hardly any bubbles surface. With the back of a spoon, smooth top of the batter.
◊ Bake for 30~40 minutes, or until warm brown color on top and bamboo skewer inserted into the center comes out moist (not dry).
◊ After removing from oven, tap the baking pan 3 times (to avoid sponge from shrinking/sinking). Holding the parchment paper, remove cake form the pan (do not remove the lining). Place it on a flat, large platter or a baking sheet. Place two cups/bottle-jars, taller than the cake, on each side (to keep plastic-wrap from touching the cake surface). Plastic wrap the platter air tight and place it in the refrigerator. Let it chill completely, overnight.
◊ When ready to serve, carefully remove the parchment paper. Using a thin, serrated, long knife, wiping with a damp towel each time used, holding (the knife) parallel, first cut off the side-crusts (treat for the cook or the bystanders). If baked in bread loaf pan, slice in 2.5cm/1″ thick slices. In this case, cut the square cake into 3 loaves of (approximately) 7cmx21cm (2.5″x7.5″) and cut them into 2.5cm/1″ thick slices.
◊ Serve two pieces each staggered in an individual small plates, or creatively staggered on a serving platter.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?