Kausutera: Japanese Honey Cake’s Deception of Simplicity~蜂蜜蛋糕:食材跟過程的奇妙關係

One rainy afternoon, I was browsing recipes online, and this recipe for honey cake from Yummy Workshop caught my eye. Honey cake, otherwise known as “Kasutera” is a Japanese sponge cake.  It’s one of my favorite desserts of all time. There was a bakery near my grandfather’s house that used to sell this very cake.  During college, when I was home for the holidays, my dad would stop by this bakery and pick up a few loaves for me to take back to the U.S.  I would keep them in my freezer and defrost a slice throughout the semester, and savor every bite.  Even now, when I have a slice of this cake, I feel like it’s an occasion.

我除了冰淇淋以外, 也是超級喜歡吃蜂蜜蛋糕! 以前住國外的時候, 我爸爸都會趁我回台灣的時候, 幫我買好幾條蜂蜜蛋糕讓我帶回去。 我都會把它們藏在解凍室裡, 一片一片的慢慢吃。 最近發現蜂蜜蛋糕的材料其實很簡單, 只需要麵粉,糖,跟蜂蜜!有一天, 剛好手邊也有這些食材 所以就很輕鬆的開始烤蛋糕。

If I had known that this cake could be made with just four ingredients, ( All purpose flour, sugar, eggs and honey, of course) I would have definitely taken the matter into my own hands a long time ago!

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Ingredients for Honey Cake

After reading the recipe through, I measured out the ingredients and proceeded to calmly bake the cake.  If I was lucky, it would completed just in time for a late afternoon snack.

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Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Beat whites for 30 seconds.

Part of the secret to a velvety Kausutera lies in beating the egg whites… um… I have to admit, I don’t think I beat them for as long as I should have… I think I only had semi-soft peaks.  According to a couple other blogs that I read, the egg whites are supposed to be beaten until you can write a distinct letter on top.

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Add sugar gradually. Beat until soft peaks form.

After doing some more sleuthing online, I discovered that I had really put zero effort in my batter beating.

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This video from Fukusaya bakery makes me feel a bit embarrassed about my lackluster beating (with an electric mixer, no less…)

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Add egg yolks one at a time

But I’m pretty sure I did something right, because my batter was still light and fluffy.  I gently folded in the flour~ make sure you check a few times that all the flour is incorporated! The batter is so airy that the flour tends to hide at the bottom or sides of the mixing bowl.

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Gently fold in the flour

The last step is to add in the honey.  The recipe recommends softening the honey with some water, but since mine was pretty soft already, I just added it straight into the batter.

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Add in the honey

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Fold the honey gently into the cake batter

Another oops factor was that I didn’t have a square baking pan. (I. Know. How. Could. I. Have let this travesty happen? Must remedy this oversight immediately) So I just used an 8-inch round spring form pan, lined with baking paper.

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Pour cake batter into prepared pan

Another mistake that I made was that I forgot that I had to wrap up the entire cake in baking paper and leave it in the refrigerator overnight before eating. (This is to lock in the moisture and flavor of the cake)  Instead, I cut a few slices and ate them as soon as I could make a cup of green tea. Luckily, I recovered my wits after first slice, and wrapped up the remaining slices and put them in the refrigerator.

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However, despite all these mistakes from the beginning to end (I think I only really got the ingredients right) the cake turned out quite nicely. And it tasted (almost) exactly like the store bought kind. Admittedly, the cake was a tiny bit dry, but that of course is totally my own fault for eating it straight out of the oven. As I ate, I also continued to torture myself and read more Kasutera recipes, and realized that real Kasutera cake should have a much finer crumb, “pore less,” as described by Ju, over at The Little Teochew blog.  I also found incredibly precise instructions on the Just Hungry blog, which heightened my curiosity even more.  So, stay tuned for my continued improvements on this recipe. Kasutera, you are my Everest.  (But I will willingly accept the challenge any day).

烤完蛋糕,後來上網研究了一下, 才發覺我真的是誤打誤撞的~其實我蛋白打的不夠久,看了這個影片才發覺我真的有一點偷懶! 而且烤出來的蛋糕其實要冰在冰箱一個晚上才能吃。 (我當然是一出爐就迫不及待的切了一片當下午茶了!) 讓我覺得很不可思議的是, 雖然我步驟很多是錯的, 但烤出的蜂蜜蛋糕還是很好吃, 也非常像市面上賣的。 這下午也讓我領悟到, 雖然食材簡單, 不表示過程是簡單的! 而且有時候, 最簡單的食材,要花不少功夫才變成最好的成果。為了表達我對蜂蜜蛋糕的尊敬,我會再多練習幾次,一定 把烤蜂蜜蛋糕的技巧學好!

Enjoy!

 

(Thank you to Yummy Workshop for the great recipe and clear instructions!)

Honey Castella (Honey Cake) 

Ingredients

  • 5 Egg Yolks (room temperature)
  • 4 Egg Whites (room temperature)
  • 125 g Granulated Sugar
  • 100 g All Purpose Flour (sifted)
  • 50 g Honey (diluted with 2-3 tbsp. hot water)

Directions 

Preheat oven to 325 F or 170 C            Prepare a square 7 inch baking pan (I don’t actually have one, so I used my 8 inch round cake pan, and it worked well!)

  • Place egg whites in mixing bowl and mix with a mixer on high speed for about 30 seconds and start adding in the sugar a bit at a time.
  • Beat until firm peaks are formed.
  • Add yolks one by one and mix on low speed until well combined.
  • Add sifted bread flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Add honey and hot water mixture and mix on low speed until mixed.
  • Pour into prepared baking pan
  • Tap pan on the counter to remove any large bubbles in the batter.
  • Bake in preheated oven for about 60 minutes or until golden brown on top – check with a skewer to see if cake is ready.
  • If ready, take out of oven (with oven mitts) and drop the pan on the counter from about a foot in height to prevent shrinkage. (This is a technique I didn’t know about~ I tried it, and I’m not sure if it made a difference in the size of my cake, but it was fun to try)
  • Cool cake. Revert cake onto a piece of parchment paper and plastic wrap, keep in plastic wrap until ready to serve (at least overnight) to preserve the moisture in the cake.
  • Cut off edges and slice to serve!

(Recipe adapted from Yummy Workshop’s website)

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4 comments

  1. 還記得第一次吃到好吃的蜂蜜蛋糕是長崎的,只是後來都是等有人送彌月蛋糕才有機會吃到。一想到蜂蜜蛋糕就會聯想到寶寶滿月,但我猜你一定是聯想到爸爸的愛吧!^_^

    • 對耶! 現在想起來 小 QQ 的滿月蛋糕就是蜂蜜蛋糕!下次去台中我一定去買長崎的蜂蜜蛋糕來做一點 research 😀
      Thanks for reading ❤

  2. Pingback: Homemade Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts ~ 手工港式蛋撻 « Ciao desserts! 「 焦點心 」

  3. Pingback: Effortless Homemade Almond Tofu 家常杏仁豆腐 « Ciao desserts! 「 焦點心 」


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